Ford vs The CompetitionTechnical discussion and comparison ONLY. Trolls will not be tolerated.
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So Im going up I81 and the fiberglass trough from a cement truck blows off into 70mph traffic. the skinny being, I clock it with the front drivers tire and airdam. the cement truck insurance co agrees to fix my car and give me a rental, for 2 weeks.
Why 2 weeks? My car is a 2010 VW Jetta Sportwagon TDI. All the parts come from 'somewhere else' and hence take time.
At first they offered me a jeep compass, but the 20mpg turned me off compared to the 45mpg I will be foregoing for a few weeks. and the little box cars wont work as I have 2 kids and a pet carrier to move around frequently.
up comes the brand new, 16K mile fusion.
Lets add another twist, as my 'just shy of his 13th birthday' 12 year old continues to grow and sound like Peter Brady, rear seatroom is a premium. Im 6-2, the woman is 5-8. Dwarfs we are not, so rear seat room, once the standard of any 'sedan' is becoming scarce. I have of late been thinking about the replacement for the J. A good gas mileage replacement.
the fusion, and its competition have been on the radar screen.
Let me start off by saying the fusion is a nice car. It has always been, IMO, much more attractive than the downright ugly focus. The interior is nice and everything seems put together well. Lets face it, every year I have been buying new cars, not used but new - since 1987 - the offerings have been better and better. I viciously tune out the people who use the word 'junk' when describing a modern car new.
now mind you, I am comparing my observations against the last 7 years of driving Jetta TDIs. models which only come quite tarted tarted up when the TDI option box is checked. And a caveat, I am comparing this to the driving manners of German sedans and sport wagons. an area where Ford has never stacked well.
some may point out that the competition for the current fusion is in fact the current passat. But I would point back - the '10 TDI wagon *is* the passat wagon. VAG has been doing some major shuffling of late.
Prior to the J, my sedan ride was a 98 cutlass (a malibu with CD and leather) - another car that each time it is redesigned, takes the top award, then slides off the next year (for whatever reason) and prior to that I restored 6 GM full size wagons, so I am no stranger to 'car' and 'family' being in the same sentence from 1982 offerings to date. (with many other unmentioned in between)
Leaving the body shop and merging onto the highway, I applied a significant amount of right foot pressure and was surprised to have acheived low earth orbit.
the 240hp 3.0 Ford got right. It is very unobtrusive NVH-wise at cruise, idle, putt putt, but lets you know its more than a 12-valve when it is working. torque steer? zero. It got up and went. quickly. And this was not even the big engine. Granted, the last incarnation of the buick/gm 3.8 made the same power, more torque and less noise, but I find no problems here.
well sort of.
the 28mpg highway is not a misprint. no matter what I did, it refused to get better than 28.7mpg. and I drove it 90% interstate at legal speeds. remember how I said I drive a '10 TDI? the '10 TDI is currently the world record holder for a 60mph highway course (58+mpg). I felt the last 2 weeks in the wallet, even with diesel at 30 cents more a gallon.
Ford should look at something here. the larger impala spouts nearly identical EPA numbers, but in real life exceeds 30.
the transmission? This part is curious, I drove it such that I could find all the shift points, up and down letting the computer pick the gear. It is a 6 speed and the PWM lockup worked without feeling like a false shift (compare to the GM 1-2-3-3l-4-4l in a 4L60). and I even thought the unlock+downshift when going down steep hills to avoid overspeeding tickets was a good idea.
however...(this is my 3rd largest gripe about the car) when not 'on it' or feeling it, the transmission makes it presence felt. I realize that GM and ford built this one together or at least designed. but in actual operation, day to day, the GM is much smoother. Ford engineers even specifically stated they chose the shift quality for smoothness. Mebbe they last worked on an FMX? not a failing grade by any means, but I have driven many autos, foreign and home grown, old and new that are far smoother day to day.
since that was a gripe, and #3, lets get to #2 on the list - I am tall so the seat is back to a comfy location such that I dont have to recline it 'ganstah-like' and the wheel is telescoped properly. that being said, I have to leave the seat to operate EVERY SINGLE CONTROL ON THE DASH. In my last 2 jettas I didnt have to go anywhere. unacceptable. fortunately there are no fewer than 16 buttons on the wheel, so these excursions are few in frequency, but I agree with the auto mags that state there are way too many buttons on the dash and the HVAC stuff is poorly thought out. (not to mention the bottom of the dash curves under from you, making them hard to get at REGARDLESS of stature.
And 16 buttons on the wheel? seriously? in 2012? what is this, a 1987 Bonneville SSE? never heard of a drivers information center and a scroll feature like, um, just about anyone else? or was there an option this rental did not have?
Aside from the HVAC, the rest was laid out ok and the cutsie 3d speedo setup was not bad once you turned the intensity down to the lowest setting.
note to car designers: the human eye does not focus on the UV spectrum and loses focus on blues. There is a reason reds and whites ruled for so long (to be honest, the 06 J had a blue background, only saved by the red pointers)
arm positions? Ford is the last domestic, and perhaps the last carmaker that does not realize the importance of MATCHED resting points for your arms. some cars, even have adjustable height centers. when asked in 1997 why the malibu center was so high, gm replied 'when you have a floor shift, everyone rests an arm on the console and touches the shifter, it releives fatigue and cramping' 'nuff said.
truck space was good and the opening only a wee bit on the small side. "Max's" pet carrier still got in there so it was not a fail. The rear seat room was wonderful, my son appreciated it and the headroom/width room was on par with the '10 J wagon. I only have 2 kids with none on the way ever, so this is a win.
some little touches like the downshift to hold speed feature was nice, as was the '1 last swipe' wiper program. I loved that in my 06 J and hated they took it away in the '10. I even took heart that ford has both front windows auto down AND up. used to be you got down only - if you were lucky. then later drivers only. for comparison, VAG gives you all 4 windows auto up/down. 'fire and forget' window switches I feel are a must. So is the bump to pass turn signalling, but all the domestics, not just ford are not there yet.
the radio was ok, I think it was a single CD when everyone is a 6 stack nowadays, but it did have XM/sirius (note to rental companies: is $15 a month, even less with volume discounts, too much to ask?) no aux jack so forget the ipod, phone, cd, whatever connections.
dual zone climate was nice and the dual front seat butt warmers.
lets talk for a moment about front seat headroom. If you get the power 10 way seat - wonderful. to clear or not have my hair brushing the top, I lower the seat all the way. On the passenger seat: no such option. I cannot sit in the passenger seat unless I recline the seat to 'mild to full blown gangstah' They should fix that, offer the same power option. even if you do not want it to be power, how about a manual lowering? my Js have it....ford can to.
operation of the car had no major issues, the brakes were about perfect. I did not stomp on it from 70 and get out the tape measure, but at no point did I feel the brakes were too touchy, or too light. the 4 wheel discs are proper for this car as I had seen it. Roadholding left a bit to be desired and this leads me to my number 1 gripe:
the steering for all intents and purposes is the same ratio as my J based on muscle memory. However, it transmits exactly nothing to the driver and does not provide a center feel at all. furthermore, the more you steer it, it does not communicate with variable effort. It is likely very few of you will understand what I am saying, but drive a german car for 7 years and a quarter million miles and you will see. It may very well be that on the skid track and slalom the fusion whips the Jettas butt. However you will never find that out because the J talks to you right up to adhesion loss and then shouts suggestions to correct it. the fusion keeps its mouth shut and the lack of communication should scare any driver from ever finding 9/10ths let alone 10/10ths. I might be wrong comparing a midsize sedan with a car that the manu either lists as a sports sedan or sportwagon, but the difference is night at day. I did not like it.
so yesterday I traded it back in, dropped 100hp but picked up a little torque and most importantly, about 56% more fuel economy and thought Id put pen to paper while it was fresh.
would I buy one? perhaps if it were this model...but most likely not: I read that for 2013 and above the fusion is now smaller and comes only with much much less powerful engines. I guess they got on those economy numbers. Im not into buying 2-3 year old used cars for my primary ride.
at the same time, the malibu is going on a diet and shrinking putting both cars in chryco 200 range (something else I test drove and something else that does the auto-stick mode way better than ford does) I didnt neccessarily want another VAG but perhaps the even newer and larger passat TDI wagon for 12 and above is the next one?
I dont mind giving up HP for mileage - the J5 had 100hp and 177t, and this has 140hp and 245T but the 150-170ish hp ratings of the new models along with sub 200T numbers dont just cut it anymore. perhaps diesel is the place to stay.
which brings me to my last point: the 3.0 v6 is not 50 state? WTH? my DIESEL is 50 state and for '09 and above it competes with gas cars. without the cat pee solution either. ford used to lead the league here, what having LEV excursions and the like. what happened?
to sum up:
pros: very attractive car, roomy, quite stylish, solid build and apparent quality. great power, loaded pretty well, comfy ride
cons:gives up too much mileage to larger cars, horrible steering, unthought-out drivers seat ergonomics and control positioning. And put a dang dimmer switch on the cup holder lights. the trim around your soda bottle should NOT be the brightest thing in the cabin.
Go Fast, run over sh......stuff
Last edited by quaddriver; 03-14-2012 at 03:01 PM.
Reason: I speel gud
I had a 2011 Ford Fusion for a week...rental. Had the 6 speed auto and the 3.0 V6. The 6 speed automatic I really liked. Would like to have one in my current car.
It shifted fast and hard.
Engine....ok...but I like my engines with their power tuned to low and mid range torque. Found the OHC Ford V6 had it's power too much in the upper reaches of the power band.
Cramped for me....but then most cars are. I'm about 6'3" + and 225-240 lbs...(depending on my diet (LOL)....with long legs and 'hockey' knees that get cramped easily if I can't stretch them out completely.
Not the fault of the Focus...just me. Only car that I found really comfortable is the bigger Buick sedan we...largely because of my need for comfort.
Generally a nice car....but check the front seats out carefully before one buys. I found it ok....but my wife did not find it comfortable at all. We went half a block and she said it's killing my back.
Unusual thing is that I find trouble having a comfy seat...she usually is ok with all of them.
240hp 3.0 NA V-6 is not about gas mileage. DI Turbo 2.0 I-4 is where we are heading with this class of car for CAFE, unless they are going to make everything hybrid. Unlike the turbo fours that Chrysler put in K-cars decades ago, todays gas turbo fours put out maximum torque at low rpm.
Does the Fusion have electric power steering like a lot of new cars have? Maybe that explains the dead feel. Also, most Ford OE tire selections are not great, almost certainly not to the level of a German-branded car. Sometimes, just a different tire improves handling quite a bit. We put Michelin Pilots on a Camry that had OE Goodyears, and the difference was night and day with no other changes.
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