2015 Ford Fusion Energi Review
Plug-in hybrid adds ‘Energi’ to Ford Fusion lineup
THE PROS & CONS
What’s Best: Recharging the Fusion Energi is a breeze by simply plugging it into a normal household outlet.
What’s Worst: Trunk space is compromised by the enlarged battery pack in the Energi model.
What’s Interesting: This car will operate in electric mode at speeds of up to 136 km/h.
Unless the majority of your driving is spent on short commutes or jaunts in and around town, the 2015 Ford Fusion Energi isn’t a car for you.
But if the latter describes your driving behaviour and you’d like to be part of the ‘green revolution,’ then I would suggest you take a look at the Fusion Energi, which shares a powertrain with Ford’s compact C-Max Energi.
Both are plug-in hybrids or PHEVs (plug-in electric vehicles), as they are known in the industry. These cars operate in either electric or gasoline mode.
Where the Fusion Energi differs from traditional hybrids is that it has a battery in the trunk that can be charged from the power grid, producing an all-electric range of up to about 32 km.
After the electric power is depleted, the vehicle switches seamlessly to conventional hybrid mode.What makes this plug-in interesting is that Ford says the car is capable of hitting a speed of 136 km/h (85 mph) in electric-only mode.
I didn’t test it at that speed, but I did drive it in electric mode on the highway so for people who have short commutes, even if it involves highway travel, the Fusion Energi might work for them.
Plug-in hybrids have yet to become as mainstream as the traditional hybrids. The Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius plug-in and the aforementioned C-Max Energi make up the main competition for the Fusion Energi, although a new wave of plug-ins is expected in the coming months.
So think of the plug-in hybrid as sitting somewhere in the middle of the technology hierarchy between the conventional hybrid and the fully electric vehicle.
The Fusion Energi has a lot going for it; styling-wise it is a winner both inside and out.
But the rub in the ointment of this five-passenger mid-size sedan is the price— it starts at $38,399 in base SE trim and $40,599 for the top-shelf Titanium model. That puts the Energi right at the top of the Fusion price range.
Our Fusion Energi Titanium tester priced out at $49,039 when you add in $6,840 in options plus $1,600 in destination and delivery charges. However, some provinces have incentives for green vehicles.
The Fusion Energi, for example, qualifies for green licence plate in Ontario and is eligible for a provincial government rebate of $5,808. British Columbia has just introduced a new program with rebates of up to $5,000 for plug-in hybrids.
The Fusion Energi has been on the market since 2013 and for the 2015 model year has only minor changes in standard and available features. A rear view camera is now standard; while the SE and Titanium trim models have available upgrades like 17-inch, 10-spoke aluminum wheels.
Ford has been working with hybrids for years and has more than 200 patents alone on the plug-in hybrid power-split technology on the Fusion Energi.
The Energi has a 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine combined with an 88 kW electric motor, powered by a lithium-ion battery. Combined, the two produce 188 hp and 129 lb/ft of torque and power is delivered through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The lithium-ion battery in the trunk area can be charged using a standard 120-volt convenience cord in about seven hours, while the time can be cut down to about two-and-a-half hours with an available 240-volt home charging system.
However, the battery cuts the trunk space to 232 litres (8.2 cu ft), down from 453 in the basic Fusion, as the battery itself is much larger than the one in the traditional Fusion Hybrid.
Plugging in the Energi is a breeze— simply attach the charge coupler to the plug-in port on the driver’s side front fender. The port has an LED light ring around it divided into four quadrants to represent the status of the recharge. Charging is complete when all four quadrants are lit.
Other than the reduced trunk space and the hybrid technology, the Fusion Energi is like any other car. In Ontario, the green licence plates and the charging port are the only tell tale signs that this is something different. The sleek, modern styling sets it apart from many other hybrids and plug-in hybrids, but the rear seat headroom suffers because of the steep sloping roofline as on the regular Fusion models.
In electric mode, things are dead silent inside the cabin, other than a bit of tire noise. Things return to normal when you switch to gasoline mode, but electric power in the hybrid system continues to build up through regenerative braking.
Our Titanium model was a top-shelf model, equipped with optional features like a moonroof with universal garage door opener ($1,250), active park assist ($600), heated/cooled seats ($600), heated steering wheel ($200), adaptive cruise control ($1,500), navigation system ($800), driver assist package ($1,450) with a lane keeping system and blind spot detection system plus Ford’s unique rear inflatable seatbelts ($190).
Sync with MyFord Touch is standard fare as on all top-end Ford products. However, the Fusion Energi also boasts the latest generation SmartGauge with EcoGuide that provides instant fuel economy ratings on a pair of 4.2-inch screens. In the cluster on the right, images of green leaves indicate overall driving efficiency.
The other cluster shows a number of screens with information about how the car is being driven. For example, brake coach helps the driver optimize the regenerative braking system through better braking technique.
All this adds up to a more fuel-efficient ride with a fuel consumption rating of 2.7 L/100 km gasoline and electric combined and 6.1L/100 km gasoline only. The onboard computer showed a rating 5.4L/100 km during our week with the car.
So while there is a premium to be paid for the Fusion Energi over the basic Fusion and even the Fusion Hybrid, this is a car that allows you to go green without making any sacrifices when it comes to styling.
And for those who do short commutes, it offers plug-in electric charging with a range of up to about 30 km.
2015 Ford Fusion Energi at a glance
BODY STYLE: Four-door, mid-size sedan.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel drive with plug-in hybrid technology.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery (total system 188 hp, 129 lb/ft) with a CVT transmission.
CARGO VOLUME: 232 litres.
FUEL ECONOMY: 2.7L/100 km gasoline and electric combined and 6.1L/100 km gasoline only.
PRICE: Fusion Energi SE $38,399; Titanium $40,599, as tested $49,039 including $1,600 destination and delivery charge.