They say that restaurants without opinions are called diners. You’re not going to find anything adventurous or surprising from the kitchens of one of these establishments. It simply serves a meal that you didn’t put much thought into, in order to fill your stomach at lunchtime, until you can get home from your shift at managing a grocery store in the suburbs, just in time to catch King of Queens. It’s simply existing.
Those who simply exist may also find themselves behind the wheel of an anonymous midsize sedan. Likely gray. And that’s a shame, because life is far too short to drive boring cars, or even distasteful cars. These shoppers may ultimately land themselves in the cheapest deal of the month, whatever the dogma of Consumer Reports claims to be good presently, or whatever legacy brand runs in the family. That usually ends up being a Frigidaire on wheels. Sadly.
Yet there is hope for the midsize refrigerator sedan segment. Buyers don’t always have to settle for the least-worst serving of whatever it is automakers are handing us these days. That’s because there are cars like the current Ford Fusion, and it’s more than just adequate.
What really has helped the Ford Fusion stand out among its vanilla peers since it was revealed during the 2013 North American International Auto Show are the looks. Striking and sleek, clean and aerodynamic, and ultimately foreshadowing a bit of the 2015 Ford Mustang. There is a strong family resemblance in all Ford passenger cars, but the Fusion (outside of the Mustang and ST models) arguably wears the style the best. Compared to the segment, it’s an Adonis, rivaled perhaps by only the Mazda 6 — which is another great midsizer.
On the inside, the 2014 Ford Fusion — Titanium package in this case — came with red leather and ambient lighting that helps the sedan feel more like some kind of Audi than a mass-market sedan. The driver’s seat was 10-way adjustable, the pedals were a sporty aluminum, the steering wheel was heated, and of course, a remote and push-button start was present. Meanwhile, the radiant instrument panel is one of the best looking displays in the segment by far. Then again, for $35,590, the fully loaded Fusion Titanium comes in pretty high for a typical family sedan, but keep in mind that it is a top of the line version and it still holds a solid value considering what that money can (or can’t) get you nowadays.
Then there’s Sync with MyFord Touch. If you read a bunch of material on the system from other outlets, you may have been scared away from even sitting in a 2014 Ford Fusion. I approached with caution, yet I found nothing about it that ruined the experience. For one, the layout is very well organized into quadrants: climate, phone, entertainment and navigation. To access any system, the tab just needed to be touched on the screen. I’m not a proponent of touch-screens — they can distract from the road and the task at hand — but MyFord Touch’s simplicity allows for minimal time at the touch-screen.
However, recently, Ford announced that MFT will be phased out and rolled into Sync 3, which will be powered by a new Blackberry QNX system over a Microsoft system from before. Ford promises increased ease of use with Sync 3, but it’s going to be a little bit before we experience it in a production car on the road.
Driving the Ford Fusion Titanium with its 2.0L EcoBoost engine bars little complaints. It’s quiet, the chassis feels well balanced for daily use, and the power comes in as sufficient. Averaging 25 miles per gallon is what’s expected according to the EPA cycle, but with mostly city driving, I reeled in around 23.5 miles per gallon on average. The 2014 Fusion with the 2.0L EcoBoost is rated at 31 mpg highway, while offering a punchy 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of grunt channeled through a six-speed automatic transmission. That power, while sufficient, is middle-of-the-pack. But it’s easy to forget about these number games when we quantify looks. And for many, good looks with a dose of personality is just what they want — and something very hard to find in the midsize sedan segment these days.