When compared to the current generation Toyota Camry Hybrid that is soon going to be replaced with an all-new 2012 model, the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid is actually the superior vehicle with better power, a longer battery range and a more appealing interior with plenty of hi-tech goodies. But no market segment in the car world sits still for long and a 2012 Camry Hybrid looms on the horizon as does the new menace in the high mileage family sedan market known as the 2012 VW Passat TDI.
So will the Fusion Hybrid be able to handle all of the challenges it will face in the coming model year? As we have already driven the 2012 VW Passat TDI already, we can safely already say that the diesel engine VW with the 795 mile range is not only more fun to drive but also competitively fuel efficient with 31 city/43 highway readings to the Fusion’s 41 city/36 highway EPA figures. Either way, both the Fusion Hybrid and 2012 Passat TDI impress in their own unique ways-the VW mainly if you have trouble with the usual “hybrid quirks.”
Now, most hybrid owners couldn’t care less about the slightly grabby nature of this Fusion model’s regenerative brakes, the somewhat wooden steering feel and the admittedly well isolated moan of the CVT (continuously variable transmission) automatic gearbox as they are used to these driving attributes. But the 2012 VW Passat is unique because it doesn’t have to overcome any of those hurdles-it is just a fun to drive family sedan that runs on diesel fuel.
The 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid is not as fun and engaging on the road even asks you drive it differently than a normal car to optimize fuel economy. The little leaves on the dash were cute but they didn’t stop us from flooring the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid as we went up freeway onramps and it didn’t turn us into hypermilers who coast to every red light. As a result, we averaged 38.4 miles per gallon which is still an excellent number for not really trying.
The 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid is powered by a 2.5 liter Atkinson Cycle inline 4-cylinder engine and battery combo that pump out a combined 156 horsepower/136 lb. feet of torque. The 275-volt battery pack also has a more impressive solo powering range than the 2011 Camry Hybrid but we expect that to change in 2012. Nonetheless, it’s easy to move across parking lots in pure electric mode in the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid.
One negative aspect of the Hybrid model of the 2011 Ford Fusion is that the trunk size shrinks down to 11.8 cubic feet as opposed to 16.5 for a gas powered variant. This is because the batteries are stored where your old trunk space used to be but for most families the space on offer should be sufficient for trips to the mall or supermarket but picking up a carload of family from the airport may take planning in regards to trunk space.
The 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid starts at $28,100 and our tester finished up at $34,195 (including destination) once an option package was added in that gave us an excellent in-dash navigation system, back-up camera, rain sensing wipers, power moonroof, 12-speaker Sony Audio, the BLIS blind-spot warning system and heated front seats which are made from an ecologically friendly cloth material. You can still always get your Fusion Hybrid with the less ecological cowhide but doesn’t it sort of go against the whole idea of buying one of these models? Saving the Earth, cutting down on our dependence on fossil fuels and all that jazz?
Now, we may not get excited by how the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid drives and handles but it’s through no fault of the car. To be honest, gas powered Fusion sedans in either 6-cylinder or 4-cylinder form are more fun to drive although you do lose out on fuel economy and “Green” kudos. Honestly, we would buy a luxuriously equipped 4-cylinder Fusion over the less exciting Passat 2.5 liter 5 cylinder.