Fusion Energi Owner Defends His Much-Loved Plug-in Car

By · September 06, 2013

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Ford’s 2013 Fusion Energi, which I purchased in late July, is a wonderful car. I bought the plug-in hybrid Fusion, first of all, to help save the planet. However, it’s also gorgeous, is built to world-class standards, is a technological marvel, and, in my view, is fairly priced when all things are considered. I’ve now driven 200 miles and have yet to use a single drop of gas!

And then, there is the trunk.

Professional car reviewers, including PluginCars.com’s Brad Berman in his New York Times review, say the Fusion Energi’s appeal is limited by the diminished size of the trunk—which was shrunk to make room for the car’s 7.6-kilowatt-hour battery pack. But for me, and many others, this isn’t a deal-killer at all. A substantial majority of Energi owners either have another car with ample cargo handling capacity, or usually travel alone (or with only one other person) so they can take advantage of the fold-down rear seat. In short, for its owners, the Fusion Energi’s relatively small trunk is a manageable issue. In fact, to the extent I’ve been able to find out, Fusion Energi owners love their car—and see it as the best battery-car on the market.

The Chevy Volt might have more all-electric range than the Fusion Energi, but if you’re looking for a workable electric-only range that covers most in-town trips and, as I did, and you also want a near-luxury car loaded with all the electronic goodies, then the Fusion Energi is really the only choice—other than possibly the Tesla Model S. But, even if you can afford it, if you drive more than 500 miles at a stretch, in states without Tesla’s Superchargers, the Tesla sedan may be a non-starter, at least until more Superchargers go into the ground.

An American Car with Door That Goes "Thunk"

Mark Braunstein />

Mark Braunstein, a technologist on the faculty of Georgia Tech, recharging his Ford Fusion Energi for the first time.

Given my needs and desires, I didn’t even look at other cars. My reasons for making a beeline to the Fusion Energi seem to be shared by the fellow owners I’ve polled on the Energi Owner Forum at fordfusionenergiforum.com. I’ve received 25 responses and all cite “saving gas” as a deciding factor in the purchase decision. But 75 percent of respondents also mention styling and technology. By the way, all the respondents are men; 90 percent describe themselves as "techno-geeks;" and 75 percent are sure global warming is happening, caused largely or entirely by human activities.

I’ve owned BMWs. The Fusion Energi is an American car with the same satisfying door “thunk.” Except for a few minor issues—for example, the plastic electric port cover seems a bit flimsy— there’s no denying that the Fusion Energi is a solidly built, awesomely quiet car, with great handling even on the roughest streets of metro Atlanta.

To some, the interior appears spartan and monochromatic, particularly in black, my choice of color. For me, it’s a great example of elegant, understated styling. I can’t think of anything I would change—except maybe for lighted center cup holders—a feature of my wife’s 2010 Fusion Hybrid that she reminds me about. (However, I do have more color options for my LED accent lights.)
Another common complaint is that the car “feels heavy.” At first, I noted this myself but, after some time, I’m thinking it may be an effect of the car’s solidity and extreme quiet—because it handles so nimbly.

No Regrets for Eco-Geek

The technology on the car is impressive. My Energi taught me to drive efficiently via dashboard scores on acceleration, braking and cruising. (Owners boast about their scores on the Energi Owner Forum.) The collision system and lane monitoring systems have proven effective and helpful. The app that comes with the car—and on the related site—can remotely discover the car’s location and charge status, lock and unlock, or preset the cabin temperature. The car also learns your frequent destinations. If you are close enough to get there without using gas, the car will stay in all-electric mode even if the battery is low enough that it would normally switch to hybrid mode.

However, actually figuring out how to take advantage of all these features is sometimes not as easy as it should be. The inherent complexity of the car led me, a confirmed geek, to seek help at first from the nearly 400 members of the owners’ forum. There, since owners are mostly fellow technophiles, help was both prompt and expert. However, after only a few weeks, I now find myself extending an “expert” helping hand.

In the end, however, I’ve yet to read a posting by even one owner who would swap his 2013 Ford Fusion Energi for a different car. I certainly wouldn’t.

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