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Old 12-11-2006, 01:55 AM   #1
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Default First Drive: 2007 Ford Fusion SEL AWD (CanadianDriver.com)

First Drive: 2007 Ford Fusion SEL AWD (CanadianDriver.com)


An all-new model for the 2006 model year, the Ford Fusion is a midsize four-door sedan with decent handling and attractive looks, and perhaps most importantly, good value in its class. The price of the 2007 base SE Fusion is up by $300 to $23,299, but that's a reasonable price increase considering it offers significantly more standard equipment.

New standard features for '07 include standard side air bags and curtain airbags on all versions, an upgraded audio system with satellite radio and an input jack for an MP3 player, a fold-flat front passenger seat and an anti-theft perimeter alarm system. The top-line Fusion SEL ($25,599) also receives new heated side mirrors with 'puddle' lamps, an electro-chromatic rearview mirror, a compass and automatic headlights. A DVD-based navigational system is also a new option.

Perhaps the biggest news for 2007 is the availability of all-wheel-drive on both SE and SEL trim lines, making it one of only two mid-size sedans under $30,000 available with all-wheel drive (the other is the Subaru Legacy).

At Ford, the Fusion is known internally as their first "digital" car, as the design and engineering was done in a completely digital environment. Although based on the Mazda6 with which it shares a number of common components, the Fusion is a little longer, wider and taller, with completely different styling.

A Mazda-designed 160-hp 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine is standard equipment on SE and SEL models, and it's coupled to a nice shifting five-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic transmission ($1,200).

The SEL upgrade adds fog lamps, 17-inch tires and wheels, climate control air conditioning, an upgrade to wood or piano black interior accents, a six-disc in-dash CD/MP3 player, a leather wrapped steering wheel and an analog clock.

The all-wheel-drive (AWD) versions, which start at $28,799 for the SE AWD and $30,699 for the SEL AWD, come only with a 221-hp 3.0-litre V6 engine which is mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission (no manual is offered).

My well-equipped test car was an SEL V6 AWD with optional power moonroof ($1,150), a rear spoiler ($300), leather seats ($1,205), an audio upgrade ($200) and a navigational system ($2,300). These items brought the total price to $35,954.


The Fusion's fat bent-bar chrome grille, which ushered in a new face for Ford passenger cars, is a refreshing change from the previous oval theme. The crisp new lines and big headlamps give the Fusion a distinctive and quite striking front appearance.

I still find the rear view a little disappointing. Those large gaudy taillight clusters look out of place on an otherwise polished design. Other than a small AWD badge on the trunk lid, the all-wheel drive version looks like any other Fusion.

Interior impressions

My Fusion SEL AWD had black leather upholstery with attractive exposed stitching and perforated centre panels. Other classy touches included a centre-dash chrome-ringed clock and glossy piano-black trim.

I liked the pull-up lever style park brake, which fits with the car's sporty character. The optional navigational screen, however, should be positioned higher in the dash, as you have to take your eyes completely away from the road ahead in order to view it while driving.

New for '07 is a front passenger seatback that folds down flat: it's a handy feature that makes it possible to slide-in an extra-long item through the trunk when a rear seatback (60/40 split) is also folded.

Rear passenger space is particularly good and soft front seatbacks allow additional knee room. The trunk is also a good size and external hinges don't crush your belongings when you close the lid.

For improved safety, 2007 Fusions now include front seat-mounted side air bags and roof mounted side curtain air bags as standard equipment. A child seat compatibility check did not show up any major problems. The upper anchor (tether) location for the rear centre seat position, however, is close to the seatback and this could make it difficult to get a tight cinch on a tether strap, depending on the design of child seat.

Driving impressions

Here in Vancouver, my first few days with Fusion AWD were the typically 'wet coast' winter kind. The AWD traction advantage over its front-drive counterpart was only barely noticeable. Then the snow started to fall, and as it continued to fall, and fall, my appreciation of the Fusion's all-wheel-drive system went up and up. The Fusion's all-wheel-drive system is a completely passive acting system that automatically distributes drive to all four wheels when needed. And while other cars were spinning wheels and having difficulty moving, my test Fusion was a sure-footed pleasure to drive.

On wet roads the 'Sport Sedan' qualities of the underlying Mazda6 chassis are evident. The Fusion feels structurally tight and has nicely weighted steering and excellent road manners.

The driving position is first-rate with a mix of power and manual seat adjustments. Large side mirrors normally help offset the rear vision constraints of the rear window. However, I found they are positioned too low on the door and when the snow accumulates on the window ledge it partially blocks the mirror.

The V6 engine is super-smooth and quiet most of the time. It growls a bit when you push it, but it's not unpleasant and is a willing worker. The horsepower numbers (221 hp) are good for its size and it's reasonably quick, but don't expect tire-smoking acceleration.

The six-speed automatic is a smooth performer that's obviously geared for economy. At 100 km/h the engine is spinning under 2000 rpm. A manual-mode shift control is not provided - pity.

Official fuel consumption figures for the AWD Fusion are 12.6 L/100 km City and 8.2 L/100 km Highway. That's a little thirstier than the front-wheel drive Fusion which offers 11.4 L/100 km City, 7.4 L/100 km Highway. Of course, in the winter, fuel consumption will be worse.


Great on snow and ice, the new Ford Fusion AWD takes the stress out of Canadian winter driving.

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