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You’re Gonna Like the Way You Look: Good Thing This Car Is More Than a Pretty Face. Next Big Changes Are a Year Off

What changes will make it different?

Probably very few, considering updated styling and features are coming for model-year 2017. This sporty midsize sedan will likely continue mechanically unaltered as well.

Why should I wait for the 2016 model?

Little reason, other than rolling the dice that some unanticipated upgrade would be cool enough to offset the relatively short shelf life of the ’16 model’s styling. Still, even with altered aesthetics expected for ’17, today’s version of this five-passenger four-door looks good enough to eventually be considered a high point of family-car design. Who can predict if the same will hold for the freshened Fusion?

Should I buy the current 2015 instead?

If your priority is getting the most for your hard-earned buck. With no fundamental changes due for 2016, you could save hundreds of dollars and still get a fashionable car with plenty of lean-forward connectivity, convenience, and gas- and hybrid-powertrain technology.

Will the styling be different?

No, with the possible exception of some new color choices, maybe different wheels. The styling that debuted with this car’s model-year 2013 will carry on, reflecting its roots as a sedan sold globally. That means a fashion-conscious European approach to design, an approach that in this case does not place a premium on expansive rear-seat room. For a spacious rear seat, shop such rivals as of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Passat and Subaru Legacy. Look for the return of three trim levels: base S, midlevel SE, and posh Titanium, plus Luxury and Titanium versions of the Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid.

Any mechanical changes?

Nothing of note. The European DNA helps make this one of the best-driving midsize cars on the market. Don’t look for Ford to mess with one of the broadest powertrain lineups in the class. And this will remain among the few in its competitive set available will all-wheel drive (AWD) in addition to front-wheel drive. Three gas-only engines and a pair of hybrids should return. The nonhybrid choices are a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that should again have 175 horsepower, a turbocharged 1.5-liter four with 181, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four with 240. All gas engines will again link to a six-speed automatic transmission. The turbos are members of Ford’s EcoBoost engine family and the 1.5-liter should again be available with an optional start-stop system. Expect the 2.5-liter to be standard on S and SE trim levels and be limited to front-wheel drive. Available on the SE and likely again confined to front-wheel drive should be the 1.5-liter. For an extra $300 or so, this engine gets a stop-start system designed to save gas by automatically shutting off when the car is stopped and automatically restarting when the driver lifts from the brake pedal. Also available on the SE and standard on the Titanium will be the 2.0-liter with front- or all-wheel drive. The Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid will retain a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in combination with an electric motor supported by a lithium-ion battery pack. Net output should remain 188 horsepower for both. And both will return with front-drive only and a gearless continuously variable transmission (CVT) in place of a conventional automatic. The Energi, however, can get an initial charge via the electric grid and travel up to 19 miles on battery power alone compared with just a few for the conventional Hybrid model.

Will fuel economy improve?

With no anticipated powertrain changes, EPA ratings should repeat at 22/34/26 mpg city/highway/combined with the 2.5-liter engine. The 1.5-liter turbo should again rate 24/36/28, or 25/37/29 mpg with stop-start. Look for 2.0-liter to return at 22/33/26 mpg with front-wheel drive and 22/31/25 with all-wheel drive. After discovering a testing error, the automaker in 2014 revised downward ratings for the Hybrid and Energi. So those should hold at 44/41/42 mpg for the Hybird and 38-mpg combined for the Energi, which also earns an 88 mpg-equivalent rating that takes into account its electric-only propulsion potential.

Will it have new features?

Hard to think of one it doesn’t already have. Standard or optional, depending on model, will be such features as lane-departure warning with automatic steering correction; foreword-collision warning; blind-spot information with cross-traffic alert; radar adaptive cruise control; heated steering wheel; remote engine start; inflatable rear safety belts; even hands-free parallel self-parking. Even the S should come nicely stocked with power windows, mirrors, and locks; air conditioning; cruise control; trip computer; keyless entry; and a four-speaker CD audio system with USB port and the company’s Sync voice-recognition audio and cellphone interface. Choosing an SE should again get you all that, plus a power adjustable driver’s seat, upgraded audio with additional speakers, and exterior keypad entry. Look for the Titanium trim to build on those features with the 2.0-liter engine, sport-tuned suspension, larger alloy wheels, upgraded front seats, a 12-speaker Sony stereo, navigation system, and the Sync-extending MyFord Touch infotainment interface.

How will 2016 prices be different?

They’ll be higher. Estimated base prices here include the manufacturer’s destination fee, in this case, around $830. Look for the S model to start around $23,500. Figure the SE at around $25,000 with the 2.5-liter engine, $27,400 with the 2.0, and $29,990 with the 2.0 and all-wheel drive. Estimated base prices for the ‘16 Titanium are $31,700 with front-drive and $33,700 with all-wheel drive. Expect the Hybrid to begin around $28,400 in SE trim and around $33,400 in Titanium form, with the Energi starting around $35,850.

What Is the Expected Release Date?

Probably sometime in the second quarter, 2015

Best competitors:

Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat.

What’s a cool feature?

This carmaker’s courage in tapping its global portfolio to bring Americans a mainstream sedan that looks and acts anything but. Sharing its design DNA with the company’s highly respected overseas Mondeo model means genuine European road manners. It’s exceptionally well controlled and composed, and breaks from tradition by offering a modern, all-four-cylinder lineup. Then there’s the styling, which looks far richer than these prices would suggest. Of note is a grille inspired by nothing less than an Aston Martin. That’s no coincidence: Ford owned the exotic British brand while this generation Mondeo/Fusion was in development.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]