The first time I saw the Ford Fusion at a media preview, I remember thinking how attractive it was with its Aston Martin-esque look. After driving it, I felt that there was maybe some ‘oomph’ missing, but Ford has tweaked the styling and injected some power with the new Sport performance package.
For 2017, Fusion receives less than a mid-cycle refresh, but gets some noticeable changes. Up front there’s a new nose and aggressive front bumper with deep air inlets. The grille is stretched a little wider and new LED headlamps light the way. Racy rims on 19-inch rubber make the fastback profile look faster and a sharp rear spoiler finishes the look.
With the Fusion Sport, buyers now have five powertrains to choose from. Here comes the ‘oomph’ in the form of a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 with 380 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a 6-speed automatic with steering wheel shift paddles, but without a manual option.
Inside, the Fusion cockpit has materials that look and feel better than previous editions. The changes work from the center console out with a new, Chrysler-like rotary gear-selector knob. There’s also a metal ring and open area under the console that provides more usable space.
The metal foot pedals are slick – literally. One gripe I had was for the piano black (gloss black plastic) trim, as it easily scratches. My test car came with Sync 3, the latest version of Ford’s interactive infotainment system that still is not as driver-friendly as competitive cars and the screen is too small.
The front leather and synthetic suede seats in the Sport might be a little firm for some. In the rear three passengers will fit, but two will find it comfortable with a decent amount of foot space. Ford did a good job of isolating passengers from exterior wind and powertrain noise. If you opt for the sunroof, you will lose a lot of rear headroom.
All Fusion Sports come with all-wheel drive, and the power gets sent to all four wheels – meaning no torque steer. Acceleration is greatly improved. Once you get all that front-biased mass moving, this car really goes. The Sport’s suspension is a little firm, but it has continuously controlled damping that adjusts for potholes and other road irregularities to lessen the impact.
The 19-inch tires put down a big, grippy footprint. However, weight upfront doesn’t build a case for sport sedan status as it plows through the corners and doesn’t feel comfortable trying to slice through a curve. It does stay flat and body roll is not pronounced, but weight transfer is not quick. In slow speed traffic, you can quickly dart in and out of openings. Steering feel is good, reaction is quick and you feel a connection to the pavement.
The 2017 Ford Fusion is a throwback sedan of sorts to the V8 powered mid-size sedans of the early 70’s. Even with its warts, the Fusion holds its own with tough competitors by delivering good value that starts at $33,750.