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2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid – the best executed hybrid yet?

Hybrids have seemingly been on the cusp of mainstream fame for years now as the US consumer searches for ways to reduce fuel consumption. But, could it be that the car of the future is actually already on sale today?

Specifications as-tested

Model: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Engine: Duratec 2.5L I-4 Gas Engine [156-horsepower] & Permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor [106-horsepower/275V]
EPA Fuel Economy: 41mpg City, 39mpg combined, 36mpg highway
Observed Fuel Economy: 38.44mpg [SmartGauge reported as 40.7mpg]
Total Miles Driven: 542 miles
Base MSRP: $27,270
As driven MSRP: $31,940 (includes $1,270 in “rapid spec” savings)
Available Government Tax Credit: $850 until April 1st, 2010
Transmission: Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT)
Equipped Options & Features: Rear View Backup Camera, BLIS (Blind Spot System), Moonroof, Sony Premium Sound System, Leather/Heated Seats, Navigation System, SYNC

Driving Dynamics & Performance

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Generally, hybrids are not the most exciting vehicles to drive.  Not true with the Ford Fusion. It’s the first hybrid we’ve tested that doesn’t feel somewhat lifeless and numb at all the control points.  Typically, over-boosted steering and a mushy brake are just par for the hybrid course. Not so for the Fusion, which drives much more like its non-hybrid counterpart than one might expect. On the road, if not for the CVT transmission and EV mode, it would be difficult to tell you were not driving a fully gas dependent Fusion.

Acceleration is also non-hybrid like. Lay into the throttle and you’re met with a decent push of grunt from the internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric motor combination.  Although it’s hard on the conscious to mash the accelerator in a car meant to save fuel, you won’t be disappointed if you have to.

But we digress, the reason you would buy a hybrid is for fuel economy and the Fusion Hybrid does a pretty damn good job at that.  On the backwoods roads of New Hampshire we traverse daily, our Fusion averaged a cool 38.4mpg. That’s almost exactly on par with the EPA’s combined driving average of 39mpg and 2mpg lower than what the SmartGauge system indicated.  More impressively, during our stint we could only muster through a half tank of gas, despite traveling 378 miles during fuel economy testing (we traveled 542 miles in the Fusion Hybrid total).

Like most other hybrid vehicles, the Fusion can run under either full electric power or a combination of electric and gasoline engine power. The real difference is how the Fusion acts under electric only power versus the competition. The Toyota Camry Hybrid, just for example, is tuned for low end torque, making moving off from a start under electric power a snap. The caveat is that EV mode cuts out at 40mph and it’s hard to maintain speed.  The Fusion Hybrid is a little different as it’s almost impossible to get underway without starting the internal combustion engine. Once at speed however, the Fusion enters and stays planted in EV mode with ease all the way up to 48mph.  That small 8mph difference may not seem like much until you consider how many roads in the US are posted at 45mph- a speed at which the Camry Hybrid’s gas engine would be running and the Fusion Hybrid’s engine would not.

Design Execution, Appearance, Fit & Finish

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Similar to how the Fusion Hybrid drives, it’s styling doesn’t exactly scream “hybrid vehicle” either. That’s a good thing, the Fusion is already a stylish automobile. On the outside the only hint of being a hybrid is the specialized hybrid badges and unique wheels.

We have to note the great sounding doors. I know, you’re asking yourself why we’d mention the doors. It’s just that they shut with a mechanically precise sound that you rarely hear, even on more upscale vehicles.

On the inside, you’ll find a plush environment. Gaps are kept to a minimum, although we’re still not satisfied with the quality of the plastics on the lower and upper consoles, door trim, and surrounding the emergency brake. With that said, for this price and the amount of technology included, you’re going to have to give a little.

Worthy of noting, Ford decided not to include LED rear tail-lamps on the Fusion Hybrid. We find it odd considering the reduced energy use that LEDs provide over typical incandescent bulbs. Hopefully this will be an upgrade in model years to come.

Audio, Electronics, & Technology

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid: SmartGauge

This is perhaps the ringer category for the Fusion Hybrid. With the SmartGauge system and SYNC, Ford has a decisive edge on any competitor in this segment. When you factor in the extra large 8-inch navigation system screen, Sirius Travel Link, a Sony Sound System, rear backup camera, stability and traction control, and automatic climate control- the Fusion Hybrid stands supreme.

The highlight of the Fusion Hybrid is Ford’s SmartGauge system, an extremely innovative dual LCD paneled gauge cluster (as seen above).  Configurable to display information in one of four formats, this car wouldn’t be the same without it. It shows you exactly how much juice you can give the throttle before kicking on the gas engine or conversely, how much you need to let off the throttle before EV mode takes over.  SmartGauge makes driving a hybrid for maximum fuel economy less of a game of skill and more a walk in the park. Our only concern is how much the system will cost to fix years down the road when something goes bad.

Read more about the Smart Gauge system

Comfort & Ergonomics

The interior of the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Another huge surprise was how comfortable we were in the Fusion. The 8-way power driver seat gave firm support without feeling hard and supported my sensitive back after hours behind the wheel.

We also appreciated Ford trusting us to adjust the SmartGauge system while in motion. Sometimes automakers lock out the settings and configuration menus on navigation systems and driver information systems at speed. It’s an annoying trend. Ford, showing respect for the driver, has opted to allow access to the SmartGauge configuration menu while on the road. Ford, thank you.

Other creature comforts to note include excellent heated seats (they get nice and hot!), Sirius Travel Link, Sirius radio, and an excellent functioning navigation system.

The rear trunk is slightly smaller than in a “regular” Fusion, as Ford packs the batteries between the trunk space and the rear seat-backs, but you still have plenty of room for larger luggage.

Final thoughts

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

It’s not often we are sad to see a hybrid leaving our office. While we love saving gas, the driving experience that comes along with most of these eco-machines left much to be desired – until now. The 2010 Fusion Hybrid thoroughly impressed and left us with the refreshing feeling that the bar for these types of machines had been raised and raised far. This is the new flagship of FoMoCo.


Perhaps the most refined and best executed hybrid to date.


  • The only hybrid that can operate in EV mode over 45mph
  • SmartGauge is a  revolutionary step in presenting information to the driver
  • All the benefits of a hybrid in a “regular” car package


  • Dash and door coverings are too hard and plastic-like in spots
  • SYNC voice commands are tedious to use, navigation system adds obnoxious layers to otherwise simple actions
  • Priced higher than a Toyota Prius

Check out our 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid photo gallery

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Road Test Photo Gallery

Road Test Gallery: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Hybrids have seemingly been on the cusp of mainstream fame for years now as the US consumer searches for ways to reduce fuel consumption. But, could it be that the car of the future is actually already on sale today? Check out our full road test later today.

Specifications as-tested

Model: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Engine: Duratec 2.5L I-4 Gas Engine [156-horsepower] & Permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor [106-horsepower/275V]
Base MSRP: $27,270
As driven MSRP: $31,940 (includes $1,270 in “rapid spec” savings)
Available Government Tax Credit: $850 until April 1st, 2010
Transmission: Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT)
Equipped Options & Features: Rear View Backup Camera, BLIS (Blind Spot System), Moonroof, Sony Premium Sound System, Leather/Heated Seats, Navigation System, SYNC

First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

Take one part reinvented family sedan and mix vigourously with two parts turbo-charger. What do you get? A Ford Taurus with 102 more horsepower and one hell of a ride.

While you’re here- check out our review of the “regular” 2010 Ford Taurus and our huge image gallery of the Taurus and SHO

First Drive Verdict

The return of the high-powered daily driver on par with the V8 offerings of upscale competitors at a fraction of the price.  Quite possibly the “sleeper of the year”.

First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

More of everything

Already building on a solid foundation, Ford has upped the ante, bringing back the famed SHO nameplate to the Taurus model. You can pronounce it S-H-O, or just SHO (like “show”)- either way it stands for more power, better fuel economy, and a revised suspension system that when rolled together give you Super High Output.

Starting with the same 3.5L V6 found in Taurus SE, SEL, and Limited, Ford engineers added twin-turbochargers. The complete package, called EcoBoost, offers V8 engine levels of power while maintaining V6 engine levels of fuel economy. While the normally aspirated version of the Taurus pumps out a none-too-shabby 263-horsepower- the SHO with it’s EcoBoost V6 takes things one-hundred and two steps further. Power output has been raised to 365-horsepower.

First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

Horsepower isn’t the only thing Ford engineers have added to the SHO to make it special. Unique spring and damping tuning on the suspension, better steering turn in and responsiveness, and larger wheels add some serious handling creds for what is basically a family sedan. Ford has also tuned the SelectShift transmission for quicker downshifts.  For example, a 4-3 downshift in the SHO takes only .5 seconds, whereas the same shift in a BMW 335i takes nearly twice as long.  It’s comparisons like this that remind us the Taurus SHO isn’t just a pretty face- it’s been designed as a serious sport sedan.

Adding to the mix, the SHO comes standard with all-wheel-drive, 19″ wheels HID headlamps, push button start, leather trimmed Miko Suede seats, and a tasteful rear spoiler.  Optional 20″ wheels are there if you are so inclined.

Also an option if you live in warmer climates an SHO performance pack. It offers performance brake pads, EPAS calibrated steering, the ability to turn AdvanceTrac completely off, a 3.16 final drive ratio, and 20-inch Goodyear F1 tires.

First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

Comparing the SHO to its closest competitors, the Pontiac G8 GT, Dodge Charger R/T, and Chevy Impala SS, it’s hard to deny the advantage Ford has given it. The Charger R/T slightly bests the SHO in power at 368, but falls short of the SHO’s fuel economy. The G8, slightly below in power, also can’t touch the EcoBoost V6’s fuel sipping nature. The Impalla comes closer, only down by 1-mpg, but falls way short of the SHO in horsepower.

Ford is even so brash to compare the Taurus SHO to upscale sedans like the Audi A6. Fuel economy and power are nearly the same between the two, but you can buy the Taurus for nearly $20k less. As you can see- the SHO is a lesson in economics. More power, more fuel economy, and a lower price. It’s what makes the SHO an incredible entry into this segment.

Behind the wheel

After driving a 2010 Taurus Limited the prior day, Ford set us out to drive in the twisty roads of northeast North Carolina. Switchbacks, steep inclines, and awe-inspiring views in the SHO.  These are not a set of roads you want to send a group of journalists out on unless you are completely sure your car will stack up.

And the SHO does.  All of our complaints from the previous day’s drive (slow steering, okayish acceleration) became a distant memory. As we bustled up and through the mountains it was almost too easy to forget we were behind the wheel of a four-door full-size sedan. The EcoBoost V6 is strangely un-turbo like. Only once did we catch the faintest whiff of wastegate noise. Low-end torque is so abundant, turbo-lag is a complete non-issue.

With all the standard features of the Taurus Limited and a blatant heap of power- we were coddled in comfort at the same time we carved up  with glee some of the tightest roads we’ve driven on. It’s the same experience you would have only expected out of a BMW or Audi- except your driving a Ford… and a Taurus to boot. Suddenly everything we knew about what this segment should be turned fuzzy.

First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO


I’ll openly admit I’m a sucker for a good sports car. At the same time, I’d never turn away luxury, which is why I’ve been a fan of BMW and Audi for a long time. No US automaker has even come close to the refinement and driving experience the Germans have seemed to perfect- until now. No, the interior isn’t as nice as an Audi and you don’t quite have the prestige of a BMW- but you will have considerably more money left in your pocket for nearly the same performance- not to mention quite a few pieces of technology those other guys don’t offer.

2010 Ford Taurus / Taurus SHO Photo Gallery

2010 Ford Taurus / Taurus SHO

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Specifications

Base Price: $37,995
Engine: 3.5L EcoBoost V6
Output: 365-horsepower @ 5,500rpm &  350 lbs ft of torque from 1,500-5,250rpm
Bore: 92.5mm
Stroke: 86.7mm
Compression: 10.0:1
Redline: 6,400rpm

2010 Ford Taurus: Meet the new benchmark

As an idea, reinventing the Taurus and pushing it as the new flagship of Ford Motor Company is on par with an 90’s one hit wonder reuniting for another try at Billboard top 25. It’s risky, a classic disaster in the making unless you can actually pull it off.   Ford took that gamble and competitors beware, they’ve got a brand new hit.

First Drive Verdict

A amazingly executed and revolutionary re-invention of the mainstream four-door sedan jammed with technology and refinement in a package you cannot find anywhere else.  The automotive industry as a whole just got schooled.

Strong suits

  • The best complement of driver oriented technology we’ve seen to date on any car
  • A smooth and extremely isolated ride
  • Although staying true to four-door sedan in size the Taurus  drives like a mid-size

We could have liked more

  • The console felt rock hard in some places, nerf-ball soft in others
  • 263-horsepower does the job but isn’t quick
  • Cockpit style interior sacrifices space for style and may cramp larger drivers

Check back Tuesday morning for our First Drive Review of the turbocharged 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus

Forget everything you know about the Taurus

Forget everything you know about the Taurus. Family car, people mover, bland, boring;  these adjectives do not apply to the new 2010 model.  Out of the gate you get a sense this new Taurus is something different just by looking at it. A bold new face draws lines from the best selling Taurus of the mid-90’s while concurrently looking to the future much like the 2010 Fusion.   The same goes for the interior. A classic two cockpit layout by design, the console is seriously modern.

It’s a staunch departure from the typical four-door sedan we’ve come to know. From the beginning Ford insists this was exactly the plan.  They openly admit the previous Taurus and pretty much the entire full-size family sedan segment has been built and designed from the “we” standpoint. “We” will go for a ride.  “We” will go for a road trip.  It’s all been about catering to the family and not to the driver.

This viewpoint has changed with the new Taurus. Ford has taken a “me” approach- orienting the best features of the 2010 model around the driver. From the sleek exterior to the edgy interior, driving a 2010 Taurus won’t cast the “I’m driving a boring family car” blues on whoever steps behind the wheel.

First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus

Useful technology and features

Looking good is important but so is being attentive to the occupants. Ford again doesn’t let us down. There’s some serious technology lurking inside the 2010 Taurus- so much in fact, it’s impressive.  Sure, you’ve got the expected options; navigation system, all-wheel-drive, and heated seats. Then you have Ford exclusive technology such as SYNC, MyKey, and Sirius Travel Link.  The true surprises, options you would not find in any car of this class only serve as icing on the cake; adaptive cruise control, push button start,  heated/cooled seats, adaptive front seating, collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring.

Ford went so far to elevate the Taurus they’ve only left one exclusive option for the Lincoln MKS, which shares platforms with the Taurus, automatic parking. Everything else you can get in the MKS is an option in the Taurus.

The Taurus is an extremely potent blend of really useful technologies. For example- during our drive in North Carolina last week we drove straight into a strong thunderstorm. Using Sirius Travel Link and its live radar map we were able to see exactly where the weather was headed and how long it would be until we saw clear skies again.

During our nearly six-hours behind the wheel of the 2010 we also very much appreciated Ford’s Adaptive Seating. The system uses a series of air bladders in the driver and passenger seat cushions to randomly shift your body ever so slightly as you cruise down the road. This keeps circulation flowing and puts a huge dent in the stiffness and discomfort one usually expects from a long drive.

First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

Behind the wheel

So we’ve determined the Taurus looks hot and has all the right features.  Stepping in for the trifecta – the Taurus handles great as well.  We particularly noticed how composed and quiet it was.  A quick jaunt down the road and you’ll most likely forget your driving a full-size, four-door sedan with a huge trunk.  Body roll has been kept under control like a European sedan.  Maybe our only gripe about the Taurus on the road would be it’s slow steering.  Hustling around corners kept us busy cranking the wheel from side to side.

As mentioned above, heavy rain gave us a excellent test of the optional all-wheel-drive system. Even through deep puddles, sheets of rain, and flowing water the Taurus never lost composure- even under full-throttle. It dug in and went- no fuss, no mess.

Road noise is surprisingly limited thanks to extensive sound-deadening materials.  Laminated glass, baffles in each pillar, and triple door seals are to thank.  This just may be the first application of acoustic laminated glass in a “family” sedan.

Final thoughts

This is without a doubt the Ford Taurus you’d never expect. Perhaps that’s because the bar has been lowered so much on what a “Taurus” should be it’s just surprising to find a car that has been executed so well.  It’s sleek, sexy, and utterly destroys the Chrysler 300 and Chevrolet Impala in every way. Great features, a composed drive, and tons of style- the Taurus has them all.  This may very well be the new benchmark for “family” full-size sedans.  If it is, this segment has a very bright future despite a disappointing past, just like the Taurus. Rock on Ford- thanks for giving us another hit.

Get a good look

Check out our 50+ image gallery of the new 2010 Ford Taurus and Taurus SHO.

2010 Ford Taurus First Drive Photo Gallery



Engine: 3.5L Duratec V-6 (all-aluminum)
Power: 263-horsepower / 249 ft-lbs torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/optional SelectShift steering-wheel paddle shifters
Drivetrain: FWD or AWD


Base MSRP: $25,995
Standard: FWD, MyKey, SecuriCode, Stability Control, 17″ wheels, EasyFuel

Base MSRP: $27,995
Standard: All SE features plus- SelectShift 6-speed automatic, 18″ wheels
Optional: AWD, SYNC, Reverse sensing system, ambient interior lighting, push button start, leather seats, moonroof, 19″ wheels

Base MSRP: $31,995
Standard: All SEL features plus-  SYNC, heated memory seats, chrome accents, puddle lights, 10-way power drivers seat, leather wrapped steering-wheel, ambient interior lighting
Optional: AWD, navigation system w/10-gig hard drive, auto hi-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, Sirius TravelLink, Blind Spot warning with cross-traffic alert, heated/cooled front seats, power-adjustable pedals, rear power sunshade, rear-view camera

Standout Technology
SYNC Music System
Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning
Heated/Cooled Seats
Sirius Travel Link
Adaptive Front Seats
Blind Spot Monitor w/Cross Traffic alert
911 Assist (part of SYNC)
Easy Fuel Capless Filling
SecuriCode keyless entry
Push-Button Start

On Sale
Later this summer (2009)

First Drive Gallery- 2010 Ford Taurus / Taurus SHO

Forget everything you’ve ever associated with the Taurus name. Family car, people mover, bland, boring;  these adjectives do not apply to the new 2010 model.  Out of the gate you get a sense this new Taurus is something different just by looking at it. A bold new face draws lines from the best selling Taurus of the mid-90’s while concurrently looking to the future.

You will not want to miss
Our First Drive report on the new 2010 Ford Taurus
Behind the wheel of the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

2010 Ford Taurus / Taurus SHO First Drive Photo Gallery

Photographer: Zane Merva

Ford Transit Connect brings european practicality to commercial vehicle market

Consider this more a preview than a review because only part of a day was spent with the Ford Transit Connect. But if my first impressions are correct (and they usually are with automobiles) this little commercial truck that has been on sale in Europe since 2002 could be quite a hit in the United States.

2010 Ford Transit Connect

As Ford demonstrated during a program in Manhattan at the end of May, this is going to be a good vehicle for small businesses. Ford chose Manhattan (as well as five other cities across the U.S.) to show how well the Transit Connect handled itself in an urban setting but I see this van being a big hit in the suburbs and smaller cities, too.

The primary reason is going to be its cargo capacity. This little truck can swallow up a lot of items. The Transit Connect has 135.3 cubic feet of cargo space and can hold a payload capacity up to 1,600 pounds – a larger payload than the full size Dodge Ram 1500 standard-cab short-box pickup truck, according to Ford. Plus, and this part absolutely intrigues me, the Transit Connect is rated at 22 city, 25 highway EPA miles per gallon. That’s unheard of for a delivery vehicle. (As a matter of fact, the city mileage is better than a 4-cylinder Toyota Camry, which is quite an accomplishment.)

The Transit Connect is built on a dedicated front-wheel drive commercial vehicle platform to meet and exceed the needs of small-business owners and entrepreneurs. To prepare Transit Connect for United States duty, the powertrain was upgraded to include a proven Duratec 2.0-liter dual-overhead cam (DOHC) I-4 engine and a four-speed automatic overdrive transaxle. Several design details, including the grille and interior touches, have been updated to lend the vehicle a fresh, new look for its American debut.

There are some other features that business owners will like. The split rear cargo doors open at a standard 180 degrees, or an optional 255 degrees and are held in place by powerful magnets so the doors don’t flap open in heavy traffic. Lift-over height is less than two feet, when the Transit Connect is unloaded The cargo area opens up to a maximum of 59.1 inches of floor to ceiling height. The load width is 48.1 inches, between the wheel arches. Load length is a 72.6 inches or more than six feet of cargo floor space and dual sliding rear side doors provide wide access to the generous cargo space.

2010 Ford Transit Connect

While swallowing up all this cargo, the Transit Connect doesn’t leave a big footprint. It’s only 180.7 inches long with a wheelbase of 114.6 inches. The Ford Edge, by comparison, seems like a giant at 185.7 inches but the Transit Connect is a lot more versatile.

I had no complaints driving the Transit Connect through the west side of Manhattan. We stopped at a hardware store, grocery market, and florist to hear the business owners talk about how the Transit Connect could fit into their lives. The florist seemed the most remorseful because she drives a Jeep Grand Cherokee that doesn’t handle the diversity of a Transit Connect.

The hardware store owner is waiting for the Transit Collect electric version that is coming in 2010. Ford says it is part of an aggressive new electric vehicle plan to bring pure battery-powered vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids to market. The Transit Connect battery electric vehicle will be the initial offering in Ford’s recently announced electrification initiatives. Ford says many commercial users travel predictable, short-range routes, with lots of stop and go in urban and suburban environments. A range of up to 100 miles makes the battery electric-powered Transit Connect a useful hauler, with significantly reduced operation and maintenance costs.

One thing Ford didn’t do in its demonstration was make us jockey for parking spaces in the city. We didn’t get the opportunity to parallel park the Transit Connects. Instead, it was more like a mall experience with us pulling straight in. Heck, they even stopped traffic for us. Sight lines were pretty good in my driving experience. This is a van after all. You can’t overlook that. You will have to get used to driving with your side mirrors.

Here’s the big secret that Ford isn’t really pushing – the Transit Connect is entering the United States as a personal vehicle (to avoid a 25 percent import duty). It will have seating for four people and will be a heck of a station wagon in my view. Ford should push this angle more because it will be a vehicle that small business owners can use commercially and privately. (I’ll leave it up to their accountants to figure out the whole mileage issue.)

2010 Ford Transit Connect

Transit Connect keeps passengers and cargo safe and secure, too. Front and side air bags help keep driver and first-row passenger safe. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard, as well. Roll stability control is standard on wagon versions and optional in van configurations. (Ford deserves credit for making the stability control a stand alone option and not tied into more expensive features.) A locking exterior hood release helps keep things secure up front. Lock-in-Latch shielded door locks help Transit Connect resist break-in.

Pricing for the Transit Connect begins at $21,475. It goes on sale later this summer.

(Questions and comments about this review and other automotive concerns can be e-mailed to [email protected] All queries are answered.)

Vital Statistics

Wheelbase: 114.6 inches
Length: 180.7 inches
Width: 70.7 inches
Height: 79.3 inches
Curb weight: 5005 lbs.
Engine: 2.0-liter
Horsepower: 136 @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 128 lb.-ft @ 4,750 RPM
EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 22/25
Base price: $21,475
Also consider: Chevy HHR, Honda Element, Scion xB

2010 Ford Transit Connect Photo Gallery