DETROIT, MI - My, my how times have changed. I remember when the Ford Fusion was the automaker's slickest car. It had the new three bar grille, chrome framed taillights and an edged style roof. It really did look like the future. Arguably, it was the Fusion, along with the Ford Explorer, that kept a fair amount of revenue rolling into Ford headquarters.
Now the car seems a bit dated, especially when compared to the all new Ford Taurus and the new offerings at Lincoln. However, the midsize sedan market has always been fueled by function and reliability rather than style. And that's where the Fusion remains a formidable competitor.
Before I get to the Fusion's equipment, I spent my week with the sedan using it as family hauler. My daughter visited with her daughter and the Fusion accounted itself well. The trunk swallowed the rather sizable though lightweight stroller.
We didn't have to contort to secure the car seat in the back. Securing my 20 month old granddaughter in that seat was literally a snap. And most important the Fusion did its job, most of time that my granddaughter she was in that car seat she sleep.
That fact attest to the smoothness of the Fusion's ride, its ease of handling, its cornering without a lot of body roll, and a very quiet powertrain. And while driving, my daughter and I talked to each other without having to talk over road or wind noise. In fact, I heard my granddaughter snoring.
I was surprised that my daughter was surprised by the Fusion. I did'nt think somebody in their mid-twenties would be familiar with the Fusion. Still, she didn't' remember the car as being that stylish, its interior fit and finish that good and she certainly didn't remember all the creature comforts.
To keep the 2010 Fusion relevant, Ford has endowed it with some equipment that in years past could only be found in luxury brands. I was a bit startled by the rearview camera with cross traffic alert and the blind spot warning system.
I had an SEL model that was powered by a 3.5 liter V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual gearbox is available. My test vehicle had an EPA rating of 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the HWY that's not bad.
If you need better mileage, a four cylinder powered Fusion, one that uses E85 fuel and a hybrid are also available. It's sort of a Fusion for every gasoline budget.
My test car was outfitted with SYNC. The system fully integrates most Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital media players, providing hands-free cell phone and music selection capabilities - plus new 911 assist and vehicle status reports with no monthly fees. There was satellite radio and auxiliary as well as USB jacks.
A now retired Cadillac executive told me years ago that as the quality evens out the most successful automakers will be the ones that take the best care of the customers during the first 100,000 miles. It looks like Ford overheard that conversation.
I didn't take the time to find out how to change the hues but the Fusion's ambient lighting system allows drivers to choose from seven base colors - ice blue, purple, blue, orange, red, white and green. The lighting gave my test Fusion a soothing ambiance, it was set on orange.
Ford has also partnered with some highly respected brands. The SYNC system was developed by Microsoft. And the Fusion's 390 watt 12 speaker audio system was developed by Sony. After a week with the 2010 Ford Fusion, I thought to be a comfortable, functional and well equipped midsize sedan.
And I was really surprised by the sticker: the base price of my test vehicle was $23,975. Add on options and the price of my ford Fusion came to $30,825.