The Ford Fusion Test Drive Event…. An Eye Opening Experience

Here’s a diversion from all of the usual techie/nerdy talk that you usually see on this blog. A car review.

My wife and I got invited to a Ford test drive event in downtown Toronto last night. Seeing we still have a bitter taste in our mouth from our recent experience with our Toyota Matrix, we decided to check it out. Ford was showing off the new 2010 Fusion. They had all the models there including the Fusion hybrid which they hope will take the hybrid crown away from Toyota.

The event itself was held at the Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place and well put together. You registered, signed a waiver, and got a buzzer that would go off when it was time for your test drive. And there was ample food and drink (no booze of course) available. Not only that, Ford had two Fusions including one hybrid for you to climb in and out of. The first thing that I noticed is that the build quality is better than what I am used to from a North American car. Is it perfect? No. Some of the body panels (mostly the front bumper) on the hybrid that I looked at were misaligned. But you had to touch them to find out about that. Still, it’s way better than Chysler and GM products that I’ve seen recently. The second thing I noticed was the fact that the interiors were very nicely put together. I also got a chance to try out Microsoft Sync. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, Microsoft software in a car must really suck. But it worked quite well. I was impressed.

We test drove both the 4 cylinder and the hybrid versions on a track that Ford had set up in a parking lot. Both cars handled extremely well. They felt firmly planted to the road and you could push the car to do sharp turns without feeling like you were going past the point of no return. The hybrid is especially good. I test drove a Toyota Camry hybrid recently and the steering felt numb and the brakes felt weird. Basically you felt disconnected from the driving experience. Not so with the Fusion Hybrid. It drove ALMOST exactly like the 4 cylinder. The brakes still felt a bit weird, but way less so than the Camry hybrid. Chalk that up to the regenerative braking system which charges the batteries when you brake. The steering was exactly the same as the 4 cylinder. Oh yeah, Ford says that it can get 61 MPG in the city which is way more than the Camry hybrid. The fact that it can run up to (according to Ford) 75 Km/h on electric power alone likely has something to do with it along with the fact that it shuts the engine off at stoplights as well. Another cool feature is that you can get instant feedback on how “green” you’re driving. If you look on the right side of the instrument panel, you’ll see leaves and branches. The more economically you drive, the more leaves you’ll see.  I can see this becoming a game to some people. Hopefully they keep their attention focused on traffic and not on how “green” they can drive.

The only bit of feedback that I’d give Ford is this. When you invite people out to test drive your car, ensure that you have ample FREE parking. We had to pay $9 to park our car which wasn’t cool. Having said that, the fact that we got two $50 gift certificates to the Rosewater Supper Club likely offsets that. But still, free parking would have been nice.

I have to admit that being a child of the 80’s and making jokes about Ford standing for “Found On Roadside Dead” or “Fix Or Repair Daily” because of Ford’s lack of reliable vehicles (other than pick up trucks), I was really impressed with what I saw. Clearly Ford has turned that image around and if the rest of their lineup is like the Fusion, Ford can compete and beat any car company. If you don’t buy what I’m saying, go to a dealer and drive one. In closing, if you’re looking for a mid sized family sedan, check out the 2010 Fusion. I think it competes well with the usual suspects (being the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry) and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised about how good it is.

Ford Fusion Hybrid

P.S. If Ford is reading this, if you give us a really good trade in value on a low mileage 2009 Toyota Matrix XR AWD, we’ll consider jumping ship to Ford.

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