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Cruisin in the Fusion: Does Ford’s Latest Hybrid Earn its Green Cred?

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday December 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

After six days and more than 400 miles of real-world road testing of the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, I am happy to report that the car has earned its green cred. It travels more than 600 miles on a single tank of gas and provides instantaneous MPG performance, based on current driving patterns. I took it all across Southern California during the holiday season, from the San Clemente shoreline to the San Bernardino mountains. All without stopping once at a gas station.

As I’ve written elsewhere, what I have found most appealing about the Fusion Hybrid is its unique Eco-Gauge digital dashboard. The display acts as an efficiency driving coach. Driving green is almost a game, as I aimed to maximize the number of digital green leaves I could earn by moderately accelerating and decelerating.

In terms of overall fuel economy, I averaged 36.6 MPG (that is combined city and highway driving). On the highway, I averaged 44.4 MPG (a higher rating than the 41 MPG that the EPA reported). While driving up the mountains, my fuel economy dipped significantly due to the increased power needed to climb 3000 feet of elevation, over 11 miles. On the way down, however, I hardly used the gas pedal at all – just regenerative braking and cruise mode – and I averaged 99.9 MPG. Not bad, eh?

In terms of styling, many of the comments I received from others was that it was a smooth-looking mode of transportation. The model I drove came fully loaded with leather seats, satellite radio, and an 8-inch navigation screen, making this otherwise mid-size vehicle seem somewhat of a luxury car (with a sticker price of $30,000).

No doubt the Fusion Hybrid will also appeal to those who are turned off by the distinctive Prius shape. One family member who was visiting from the Midwest remarked, “I like it because it looks like a normal car.”

Lastly, I have to say that the Fusion’s features designed to minimize emissions are impressive. Like other full hybrids, the Fusion does use all electric mode when starting up or coming to a stop. This makes for guilt-free driving in stop-and-go traffic. But the Fusion also takes a second or two longer to shut off when parking so that any fuel emissions left are properly evaporated at the right temperature.

The Fusion Hybrid is one of the first of Ford’s next generation of electric vehicles that will soon be on the market. Ford plans to have the Eco-Gauge installed in nearly all of its models by 2013, and is planning on releasing a plug-in hybrid and full battery-electric vehicle in the next two years as well.

As one of my uncles said this morning, “I don’t usually think of Ford when I think of hybrids, but now I do.”

Shannon Arvizu is a clean tech strategist and educator. You can find her at www.misselectric.com.


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