Taking a page from Ragu, Ford is giving buyers of the 2013 Ford Fusion more choices than they can probably comprehend. Five different powerplants (three gas, hybrid, plugin-hybrid), two transmissions, and FWD/AWD options. They call it the "power of choice" and we agree it makes Ford the most "pro-choice" automaker.
The old Ford Fusion on its Mazda-shared platform is gone. In its place is the "global" platform that underpins the European Ford Mondeo — a car we've been harassing Ford to bring for years.
Ford's scrapped the Gillette close-shave grille for a muscular, kinetic, slightly pissed Euro-style derived from the Ford Evos but without the magical doors and wagon shape.
Also gone is the line-topping V6, kicked out in the company's naturally-aspirated six-cylinder putsch. This missing engine choice gives Ford some breathing room for the Taurus, which offers the EcoBoost V6 and will have to somehow remain a viable alternative to the better-looking, surely cheaper Fusion.
The trio of gasoline engines start with the baseline carry-over 2.5-liter four-cylinder (170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque) attached to a six-speed automatic. A fine engine for a rental car. The two EcoBoost options make buyers choose between what they value more: power or efficiency?
If the choice is efficiency a buyer can opt for the 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder (179 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque), which promises the best fuel economy of any non-hybrid mid-size car with a projected 26 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. It's more than adequate power for a midsize and more proof that hybrids aren't the only way to achieve economy. It's also the only trim available with a six-speed manual transmission.
The power-hungry desperate housewife can opt for the 2.0-liter EcoBoost (237 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque) in either FWD or AWD configuration. Ford appears to be dropping the "Sport" moniker from the AWD fusion and replacing it with the line-topping "Titanium" trim borrowed from the Mondeo. This will be available only with the SelectShift six-speed automatic they keep pretending is a manual.
This makes sense as the Fusion Sport wasn't actually sporty, although we doubt the Fusion Titanium's body will be made from actual titanium. All Fusions share the same suspension, which offers MacPherson struts up front and an independent multi-link setup out back.
Tired of drive-train choices yet? No? Ok, there's also the return of the Fusion Hybrid, which ditches the 2.5-liter engine for a smaller 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder. This should offer 47 mph in the city and 44 mpg highway. That city number is within a single mile of the Prius.
The final choice is the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, which Ford is calling the most fuel-efficient mid-size car in the world. It's expected to produce more than 100 MPGe, better than the Chevy Volt and, possibly, the Prius plug-in. More on that here.
Ford will also jam the Fusion with every bit of technology they can muster (lane guidance, SYNC with voice, blind-spot detection, active park assist, MyFord Touch) and airbags everywhere you can imagine.
The car will be built in both Mexico and, eventually, Michigan. In a wonderful reversal of fortunes, Americans will get the car later this year and Asia/Europe will have to wait until 2013.
We haven't driven the car yet, but on specs and looks alone the Fusion trumps most of the competition. And specs are how people who wake up one morning and decide they want a mid-size sedan — the world's dullest car class — make their decisions.