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Rental Review: 2019 Ford Fusion SEL Hybrid
From the Crestline to the Fairlane to the Taurus, Ford has consistently had a solid value family car in it's lineup. That's all about to change as Ford cashes in all its chips on the SUV and CUV craze. The Ford Fusion will be sunsetting in 2020 after 14yrs on the market, despite still being a popular selling vehicle. I recently spent a week in Texas with a Fusion Hybrid. It's come a long way from the 2010 model I had. However, this was also my first hybrid experience and there's definitely differences.
Bodywise, the Fusion has remained relatively the same since 2013. It has received mild refreshes in recent years, including LED brows and re-sculpted tail lights. Despite this, the car still looks relatively fresh. Interior-wise, very little has changed since 2013 which is good and bad. Sync has definitely improved over the years but I have never really cared for the overall dash layout as it's too hard feeling. The rotary gear selector takes a little getting used to and, unfortunately, there is no way to row gears manually in the Hybrid version. There is simply a "L" selection for when low gears are needed. You also have selections below the shifter for hill assist and ECO mode, which adjusts acceleration and shift points for better economy.
If you plan to carry a lot of stuff in the trunk, you might have issue with this car. Due to the hybrid batteries, a good section of the trunk space is eaten up. Trying to stuff two 26" Pullman suitcases in the trunk can be a bit tricky and good luck having room for much else after that. You must also be mindful that the engine battery is also tucked away in the trunk. The interior is comfortable with plenty of room and adjustability. I found myself not being fatigued by the seats, even after 3+ hrs of rolling through Texas Hill Country.
The Hybrid pairs the DuraTec 2.0L I-4 with a bank of Li-Ion batteries. The pair work together fairly well. In city driving, it is very easy to rely only on battery power to get around. When a quick boost to freeway speed is needed, the hybrid system supplements the DuraTec's power with the batteries. The batteries are recharged via regenerative braking. This happens when the brakes are applied, when you coast or when driving downhill while cruising. The trick is balance, which can be a bit frustrating.
The car offers several gauges that can be called up via steering controls to help guide you to be as efficient as possible. If you want to get the most efficiency as possible from this car, you have to drive it every day is Sunday. That means light acceleration, VERY light braking and constant cruising speed. Hills will negatively affect cruising efficiency. Jackrabbit acceleration or even brisk on-ramp acceleration will affect efficiency. Braking by far can be hard on efficiency. Anything harder than a light press of the brake pedal noticeably affects regen ability. To get 100% regen, you have to practically toe-touch the brakes then ride them to a soft stop. Any hard inputs on either the accelerator or brake pedal will 'ding' your score, which is monitored by a coaching system. Your trip results will be displayed when you shut the car off, which will include EV miles and engine miles driven.
However, that system does what it is supposed to. In 1000mi of mixed driving, which included interstate, hills and plenty of city driving through Austin and San Antonio commute traffic, I managed a mixed 43.5 MPG. 23Gal on 1000mi is nothing to sneeze at. There were some trips, when I babied the inputs to the maximum, where I returned trip results past 50MPG. Where I live, I sadly would not be able to repeat these results. California traffic is much too volatile.
This car is perfect for the commuter who wants to squeeze every last drop of gas from their tank and doesn't mind having to provide light inputs to do it. If you are a person who travels with a lot of luggage, or have traffic patterns which are erratic, you won't get as much efficiency as you think. Another tip: Buy used. Many rental car agencies sell the Fusion Hybrids used at half price with less than 50,000mi on the odometer.