What changes will make the 2017 Ford Fusion different?
Fresh styling, new features, and two new models — one of them the most powerful car in the class. It’s the most significant update to this popular midsize sedan since its model-year 2013 redesign. The facelift is a subtle but effective tweak of the already handsome nose. New features include the automaker’s upgraded Sync 3 infotainment interface, plus driver assists such as adaptive cruise control and frontal-collision warning. New at the top of the line is the luxury Platinum model. Also added is the Sport model with 325 horsepower, 25 more than any rival.
Why should I wait for the 2017?
To experience Ford’s best efforts to keep up with – and in some ways, outshine – the competition. The class sales leaders — Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima – have all undergone major updates recently, while the Chevrolet Malibu and Kia Optima are all-new for 2016. None, however, will match the ‘17 Fusion’s variety of powertrain choices: three turbocharged engines, two types of gas-electric hybrids, and available all-wheel drive (awd). Waiting gets you the styling, features, and engineering that’ll see this car through to its next full redesign, likely in 2019 as a ‘19 or ‘20 model.
Should I buy a 2016 model instead?
If the minor styling updates matter little to you and you’re uninterested in the Platinum’s entry-luxury airs or winning road races with the Sport. The Sync 3 upgrade and new safety features are selling points, true. But you’ll almost certainly have to spend more for a 2017 car that isn’t fundamentally different from the ‘16. And factory and dealer incentives on the ’16 should become alluring as Ford clears inventories to make way for the revamped models. With its European flair and Aston Martin-inspired grille, the ’16 Fusion certainly won’t look outdated, even next to those recently facelifted rivals. It’ll still offer a wider variety of engine choices than most, and only the Subaru Legacy, Chrysler 200, and Buick Regal will match it for the all-weather security of available awd.
Will the styling be different?
Yes, but hardly enough to make the ’16 seem stale. The main change is to the nose, where the grille and headlamps are reshaped. The grille on base S, volume-selling SE, and upscale Titanium models gets a multi-bar motif while the Sport gets black mesh and the Platinum bright mesh. LED headlights and fog lamps are newly standard or available, depending on trim level. The cabin reprises the automaker’s rather blocky approach to design but does innovate for ’17 by replacing the conventional center-console-mounted transmission lever with a rotary dial that you turn to select a gear. Accompanied by a neat little lever to operate the electric parking brake, it’s a clean, contemporary arrangement and makes it easier to reach the console’s bins and cupholders. The Sport model introduces front bucket seats with extra lateral bolstering and upholstery that’s a combination of leather and imitation suede. Trendy diamond-pattern leather dresses up Titanium and Platinum seating, with the Platinum further fancied by exclusive antiqued Coca upholstery and a steering wheel wrapped in premium Venetian leather.
Any mechanical changes?
Yes, and they’re pretty significant. All the non-hybrid models switch to an 8-speed automatic transmission, from a 6-speed automatic. The intent is smoother response and improved mileage. Standard on the Sport and available on the other models are steering-wheel paddle shifters. As for engines, S and SE will again come with a serviceable but unexciting 175-horsepower 4-cylinder. Expected to remain optional on the SE is a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder from the carmaker’s turbocharged EcoBoost engine family. It’ll likely increase to around 195 horsepower, from 181. Also optional on the SE and likely to be standard on Titanium and Platinum is an EcoBoost 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that’ll probably bump to around 245 horsepower, from 240. A 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 gives the Sport 25 more horses than the Nissan Maxima and 30 more than the Chrysler 200, the two closest power challengers in the class. All-wheel drive will be standard on the Sport and available in place of front-wheel drive on models with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Returning to pair a 4-cylinder engine with electric-motor power and a continuously variable automatic transmission are the Fusion Hybrid and the Fusion Energi. The former is a conventional hybrid that recharges via regenerative braking and can run for only very short distances on electricity alone. The Energi is a plug-in hybrid that draws an initial charge from the grid and can travel about 20 miles before the gas engine kicks in to operate it as a conventional hybrid.
Will fuel economy improve?
It should for the returning engines thanks to the new transmission’s additional gears, although 2017’s horsepower increases could negate some of the advantage. Look for the 2.5-liter to improve on 2016’s EPA rating of 26 mpg city-highway combined. The optimistic view has the 1.5-liter bettering its 28-mpg combined rating. (If Ford again offers the 1.5 with an optional stop-start system, it ought to beat 2016’s 29 mpg combined.) The automaker will aim to improve the 2.0-liter’s ratings of 26-mpg combined with front-drive and 25 with awd. Fuel economy won’t be a Sport priority, but its smaller displacement turbo engine ought to be more efficient than the 25-mpg-combined rating managed by the Maxima with its naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 and the 22-mpg combined logged by the awd Chrysler 200 with its naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6. Look for the Fusion Hybrid to repeat at 42 mpg combined. The Energi should again rate 88 MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent, the EPA’s expression of fuel economy from combined electric- and gas-propulsion sources. Running as a conventional hybrid, the Energi should repeat at 38 mpg combined city-highway.
Will it have new features?
Yes. Ford hadn’t released details on standard versus optional fitment by model, but Sync 3 is likely to be optional on the SE and included on Titanium, Sport, and Platinum. It replaces the user-unfriendly MyFord Touch interface with one that has clearer and more logically arranged icons and a screen that responds to smartphone-like pinches and swipes. It also includes Siri EyesFree connectivity. Also new is Sync Connect, which enables owners to remotely start their car and lock it an unlock it using a smartphone app. Adaptive cruise control, front-crash-mitigating automatic braking, and alerts of potential collisions with vehicles or pedestrians are new for ’17. So is autonomous parking that can identify a parallel space and automatically steer the car into it – and out of it. On the mechanical side, the Sport introduces to the line a suspension designed to adjust firmness according to driver choice and sensors that detect potholes and other pavement irregularities.
How will 2017 prices be different?
Some early reports suggest base prices for some ’17 Fusion models will increase very slightly — or may even decrease. A drop would be news. We’ll go with historical precedence and anticipate they’ll climb but remain competitive. Estimated 2017 starting prices are around $23,000 for the S model, $26,000 for the SE, $31,850 for the Titanium, and $37,500 for the Platinum. Expect the EcoBoost 1.5-liter to add about $800, the turbo 2.0 about $1,500, and awd around $2,000. Figure the Sport to be priced from around $34,900, the Hybrid from around $27,000, and the Energi from around $34,500. (All these estimated base prices include Ford’s destination fee, which was $825 on the 2016 Fusion.)
When will it come out?
The automaker has targeted a Spring 2016 release.
What change would make it better?
A roomier rear seat. Fusion is based on a design originating with Ford’s European operation. That helps account for its above-average road manners and solid build quality. The downside is a de-emphasis on rear legroom. Merely adequate with the front seats slid less than halfway back, it’s very nearly adult-prohibitive with them adjusted any further rearward. Slimmer front seatbacks are one short-term answer. But the solution is a repackaged structure, and that won’t occur until the end-of-decade redesign. Even then, engineers may have their work cut out for them. Early reports say fuel-economy goals will force adoption of a smaller, lighter structure.