Modern Motoring: 6 takeaways from the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid

APPEARANCE

All 12 Fusion offerings look quite similar on the outside and the clear way to distinguish which model is which is to check the trunk for badging.
The current generation Fusion has very clean design lines and still evokes a slight Aston Martin-esque feel to the front end. While there’s not much wiggle room for outlandish design in a four-door car (except for the new Civic lineup) Ford is riding the wave nicely with the existing design that’s one of the better looking sedans on the road.
Sure, on the option sheet there are spoilers, LED lights, various rim styles, etc. but the basics are that it’s a well-designed, premium looking vehicle that’s hard to mistake for anything else.

THE NEW ROTARY GEAR SHIFT

In what’s becoming a new trend for automakers, the traditional gear stick has been done away with for the 2017 Fusion. In its place is a rotary dial, similar to the Jaguar/Land Rover approach (minus the cool yet gimmicky collapsing trick) that frees up lots of space for cup holders. Laugh all you want but more and more of us are spending extended periods of time in the car, and Starbucks mocha-choca-blah-blah-blah drinks, water, or soft drinks to accompany your choice of McMeal are part of that. 
Previously, the cup holders were placed too far back and as a result, there were plenty of complaints about spills from the front occupants. Ford listened and put them further up, where it’s easier to lift and store your beverage of choice.
During my test week, I still made a few grabs at the non-existent gear stick due to muscle memory for many other media cars I test plus my own 2004 standard Accord.
I do like the rotary transition route because of the added space up front and like most things automotive, change will eventually be embraced. Well, unless you’re talking about those awful automatic seatbelts or record players in many late 50’s Chrysler models.

PRICING

Of the 12 Fusion offerings, there are three that fall beneath the “Energi” (plug in hybrid) umbrella.
My top of the line tester, the Platinum, rings the register at an MSRP of $45,088 and highlights include a sunroof, aluminum sport pedals and ventilated, premium leather trimmed front seats.  
Also standard here is the advanced auto park assist and adaptive cruise control.
The mid-tier Titanium trim sees a sharp price drop to $37,288 with highlights that include heated front seats and leather trimmed sport seats. 
The SE trim at $35,088 gives you most of the benefits of an entry level trim (cruise control, compass, leather steering wheel, LED fog lights, etc.) and the benefit of a remote starter for those cold winter days. There are plenty of boxes to tick off on the option sheet for those who feel the SE is too “bare bones” for their liking.
Since Energi, regardless of trim, is eligible for up to $7,730 in Ontario Government EV Rebates, you can get into the SE trim for as little as $27,358, which is a steal considering all the potential fuel savings over a few years.

WHAT’S POWERING THE ENERGI?

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The Energi is powered by a 2.0L Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid Engine that provides 188 combined horsepower and 129 lb-ft. of torque. A 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery (smaller than some of its competitors) benefits by only taking 2.5 to 3 hours to charge on a 240V system and between 6 and 8 hours on a 120V one. 
Range-wise, I consistently squeezed out 29-33 km per full charge. Of course, that figure will fluctuate depending on driving styles and how intense your need for HVAC controls are, among other things.
If your round trip to work is between 20 and 30 km, there’s a good chance that you’ll see a drastic reduction in your gas rewards points while seeing a slight bump in your electricity costs.
I’d like to have seen a bit more torque given that there’s an electric portion of the engine and I’ll talk a bit more about that further down in this review.

The Energi takes up to 53L of regular gasoline and when combined with a fully charged battery, can take you nearly 1,000 km, or roughly from Mississauga to Montreal, round trip. 
Seeing as most mid-sized gasoline-only sedans churn out 600 km per tank, the extra 400 km makes a huge difference.
And with charging stations constantly increasing in availability, it’s becoming more alluring to lean towards a plug in hybrid option.
Fuel economy is impressive at 5.6 L/100 km combined for the gasoline portion and 2.4 Le/100 km equivalent combined gas and electric. 
Between the massive rebate and the miserly fuel economy, there’s a strong argument to be made for the Energi being on your short list for your next vehicle.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi’s drive feel reflects what type of car it is, and that’s one which focusses on function over fashion, so to speak. With all the extra weight of the hybrid system, there are a few extra seconds needed to reach highway speeds and to get up to city speeds from a stop. Keep in mind that buyers of this car aren’t looking for raw power; they’re looking for weekly cash savings at the pump.
While it’s not the quickest car, it does offer a stable and comfortable ride, which to me outweighs the ability to beat other cars to the next red light.
The cabin is very quiet when in electric-only mode (good work, engineering team) and the ultra-comfortable seats will make your Mississauga to 500km away and back trips that much better.
I’ve always associated acceleration with cooking ribs on the BBQ: slow and low, where if you keep your RPM below 2,500 for each gear change and take the few extra seconds to get up to speed, your gas/electricity consumption rates will remain low.
The SYNC 3 system has been well received and is easy to operate, further enhancing the drive quality.

IF YOU WERE IN THE MARKET FOR A PLUG IN HYBRID, WOULD YOU BUY THIS?

I would because for me, it makes plenty of financial sense.  Even though I have a home office and my clients are scattered throughout all parts of the GTA, and I love to go on 100+ km drives as often as possible (1-2 times a week), the nearly 1,000 km range makes it an easy choice. 
The fit and finish scores high marks for me, especially the interior. If I’m spending hours in the car weekly, the Energi’s high-end interior is where I want to be.
Having several plug in stations close to my house makes it convenient if I’m out and about, along with the under 3 hours of 240V charge time. 
The rebate is also very helpful at pricing the car in the mid-$20k mark. While I’d want the Platinum trim, I’d only need the SE.
Do I care that there’s only 232 litres of trunk space (107.6 litres less than the hybrid and 220.9 litres less than the gasoline) in the Energi? Nah. I can still toss groceries in the trunk and there’s still the entire rear seat to utilize. 
If you’re a family of 4 or 5, things can get tricky, seeing as it’s likely that children/young adults who come with sports/dancing/activity gear will challenge the sparse trunk space.
If you’re responsible for carting around one or two other people and some guitars (like I am), then this is right up your alley if you’re in the market for a plug in hybrid.

Enjoy the full gallery below: