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Ford Fusion Hybrid easy on the eyes and drives nice, too

The new Ford Fusion hybrid is as nice to drive as it is to look at.

  • Choosing a car at dealership. Thoughtful grey hair man in formalwear leaning at the car and looking away

It is worth repeating that only vehicles that are new or substantially changed are eligible for testing under AJAC’s Car of the Year rules. That is why this year this incredibly popular vehicle class is represented by just four very diverse models.

Two — the Ford and the Toyota — represent their makers’ latest hybrid offerings, while the others — the Chevy and the Mercedes — provide spirited performance through sport-tuned suspensions and turbocharged engines.

Best Family Car over $30,000:

Ford Fusion Hybrid

Price (base/as tested): $29,999/$33,399

A hybrid at home on a handling course? Yes, as it turns out. Perhaps because our Fusion is now also Europe’s Mondeo, a certain level of chassis competence is baked right in — this car is as nice to drive as it is to look at. And AJAC agreed as well, as it named the Fusion Hybrid the winner in this segment. It’s quicker than the 118 hp rating suggests, making the cramped trunk the biggest compromise in owning the hybrid model. Ford’s touch-screen interface and some cheap-feeling interior pieces detract from what should still seriously challenge the Malibu for a class win.

Chevrolet Malibu

Price (base/as tested): $24,995/$36,810

The previous Malibu represented a considerable upgrade from the car upon which it was based. That trend continues here. Designed to be sold globally, this latest Malibu’s wheelbase was shortened 11.4 cm, resulting in slightly less rear seat legroom — one area in which the new model isn’t better. The LTZ models tested featured GM’s impressive new 259 hp 2.0 litre turbo engine and a buttoned-down chassis that felt right at home slaloming through pylons.

Although it’s a hatchback rather than a sedan, it’s possible that the new Mercedes B250 will make entry-level versions of the C-class redundant. While equipped with almost $10,000 in upgrades, my tester’s roomy interior still looked like it belonged in a vehicle costing $20,000 more, and this new B-Class just feels much more mature and upscale than its predecessor. With a substantial 258 lb.-ft. of torque from its standard turbocharged 2.0 litre four cylinder, it’s quick too. If not a class winner, it’s certainly a standout offering.

Mercedes-Benz B250

Price (base/as tested): $29,900/$38,190

Although it’s a hatchback rather than a sedan, it’s possible that the new Mercedes B250 will make entry-level versions of the C-class redundant. While equipped with almost $10,000 in upgrades, my tester’s roomy interior still looked like it belonged in a vehicle costing $20,000 more, and this new B-Class just feels much more mature and upscale than its predecessor. With a substantial 258 lb.-ft. of torque from its standard turbocharged 2.0 litre four cylinder, it’s quick too. If not a class winner, it’s certainly a standout offering.

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Price (base/as tested): $35,700/$35,700

I’ve liked the Prius ever since driving the second-generation model when it became available in 2004. The Prius has represented a technological tour-de-force for over a decade, yet I was underwhelmed by this new plug-in version. For the nearly $10,000 difference in entry price from a conventional Prius, the limited pure-electric range (approximately 22 km) doesn’t seem worth it. The interior’s materials trailed well behind the others here, too. The Prius’ technical brilliance remains, but my hybrid pick in this group would be the Ford.

  • Ford Fusion Hybrid easy on the eyes and drives nice, too
  • Ford Fusion Hybrid easy on the eyes and drives nice, too