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New 2013 Ford Fusion makes a good first impression

New 2013 Ford Fusion makes a good first impression

The Ford Fusion has been a solid, well-rounded contender in the competitive family sedan category since its introduction in 2006, but that Mazda-based design was getting long in the tooth.

Ford brought an assortment of newly redesigned Fusions to our test track to share with our staff. We had seen the car at auto shows and earlier this year, we visited Dearborn to drive some pre-production Fusions. And now, we sampled all three main versions on our home turf.

The early reports are in, and it appears the folks at Ford did their due diligence.

More stylish than the boxy model it replaces, the new Fusion appears (and is) larger. It feels airier inside yet maintains the relatively good visibility of the outgoing model, something Ford failed to do with the Taurus redesign a couple of years ago.

A wide variety of trim levels and powertrains are offered, ranging from the base S with a carryover 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine starting at $21,700 through mid-level SE, SEL and range-topping Titanium trim level that starts at $29,995. Most Fusions are powered by the 1.6- or 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder units (same as those in the Escape). Hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions are also available. All-wheel drive is offered only with the 2.0-liter turbo. There won’t be a V6 for this generation.

On the road, the new Fusion feels solid and sophisticated, retaining some of the DNA that characterizes the current Focus and Escape. The ride is supple and controlled. Handling is quite agile with a sporty demeanor that’s rare for this class. Based on a new platform that will underpin a number of vehicles worldwide, the Fusion looks and feels a lot more substantial than the car it replaces, and not far off a sophisticated German sport sedan.

We’ll be back with more as soon as we’re able to purchase our own Fusion models for our test fleet. Check out the video for more early impressions.

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