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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

Conclusion

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

Models/Features/Pricing/Specifications

Specifications

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

Models

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

SEL
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

Limited
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

First Drive: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford’s new 2010 Fusion Hybrid is the latest introduction to the word of hybrid electric cars and we’ve had a chance to jump behind the wheel. How does it drive? Is it evolutionary or revolutionary? Does the SmartGauge system really work or is it just a gimmick? Here’s the details and our impressions of the 2010 Fusion Hybrid. You don’t want to miss this.

First Drive Verdict

A real, no compromises sedan that takes the hybrid movement to the next level. The Ford Fusion Hybrid is smooth, sophisticated, and extremely easy to drive. Ford’s new SmartGauge display is revolutionary- providing the information you need to drive the Fusion Hybrid most efficiently. On a couple mile city loop we achieved an impressive 59.4mpg. (FastCompany.com has even noted our eco-impressive figure)

Related: Zane’s driving the 2010  Toyota Prius on Monday and Tuesday (March 23rd/24th). We’re taking your requests- what do you want to know?

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid – the details

First Drive: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

From the outside, we’ll concede, the 2010 Fusion Hybrid could very well be mistaken for a regular Fusion Sedan. Aside from the Hybrid badges and some slight styling tweaks it does not stand out as the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight do.  There’s no odd shape and zero tacky hybrid decals plastered everywhere.

Even inside you’d be hard pressed to find where Ford might have skimped for weight savings.  Heated leather seats, a full navigation system, and all the options you’re used to can still be had with the Fusion Hybrid. Only the SmartGauge system in the dash gives any hint of the technology and fuel economy hiding under the bodywork- and that technology is impressive.

Ford made sure to avoid the “me too” Hybrid approach that General Motors has taken with the Chevy Malibu “lite”  Hybrid.  The Fusion Hybrid is a 100%, full fledged eco-machine. Like the Escape Hybrid- the Fusion Hybrid can run under electric motor only propulsion. Only when needed does the 2.5L 4-cylinder gas engine seamlessly start.

The Hybrid powertrain found in the Fusion Hybrid is the next generation of the system Ford has been using in the Escape Hybrid for the past few years. It features a 155-horsepower 2.5L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gas engine mated to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. Also attached to the CVT is a 250-volt,106-horsepower AC electric motor.   The Fusion’s smaller and lighter nickel-metal hydride battery is 20% more powerful than its predecessor and features a revised chemistry that allows it to be run at a higher temperature. The combined output of the gas engine and electric motor is 191-horsepower. Other upgrades to the hybrid powertrain include an electric A/C compressor and an improved regenerative braking system that can recover energy that would have otherwise been lost through brake pad friction.

Through these enhancements Ford was able to achieve an EPA estimated highway rating of 41 miles to the gallon. That’s an impressive 8mpg better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid in the city. On the highway, the Fusion Hybrid is rated at 36mpg, nearly 2mpg better than the Camry Hybrid. All told, a full tank of gas will take you over 700-miles. Most impressive of all is that the vehicle can travel under electric-only power at speeds up to 47-mph. This is a huge improvement over many other hybrids which automatically turn on the gas engine at speeds over 30-mph, even if you don’t need it.

Behind the wheel

First Drive: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Turn the key and not much happens. If the car is up to temperature the gas engine will not even fire. The Fusion Hybrid is so quiet Ford had to add a light in the gauge cluster telling the driver it’s ok to get moving. After the SmartGauge display has cycled on and you’re buckled up, only light pressure on the accelerator is needed and  the Fusion silently glides ahead.

Under electric-only power the gauges immediately begin updating. The power (PWR) gauge readout gives an instantaneous measurement to the amount of acceleration you’re requesting.  Think of it as a smart tachometer. Press the throttle and the needle-line floats up. Coast and the needle-line drifts back down. Under electric power part of the power gauge is shaded green.  If the needle is in the green shaded area the Fusion Hybrid stays in electric-only power and uses no gasoline.  The higher the speed, the larger the EV shaded area becomes. Simply put- the “PWR” gauge alone allows the driver to accurately control the transition between electric-only and hybrid-gas operation.

But when you do need the extra boost from the gas engine it’s possible you’ll never realize it. The transition and start-up of the gas engine is so smooth and seemless it’s hard to tell when its running.  Reading  gauges for confirmation may be the only way to truly know in most situations.   We’ve driven nearly every hybrid system on the market today and even we had troubles detecting when the gas engine came to life.

Driving the Fusion Hybrid on city streets outside Boston, MA we noticed Ford has really worked hard to mainstream the hybrid driving experience. The electric motor puts out more than enough torque to get the Fusion up to speed easily.  With a little bit of effort we found no problem keeping the gas engine off during most of our time driving. Only when leaving a stoplight or moving uphill did we find the gas engine kicking on for assistance.

The Fusion Hybrid is also outfitted with a refined regenerative braking system. A big complaint of the Escape Hybrid we’ve driven in the past was its numb on or off brake peddle. The upgraded system in the Fusion is surprisingly precise and linear, much like a conventional car.  During easy driving conditions its possible the mechanical brake pads will never engage, instead leaving the work of slowing the vehicle up to the regenerative system. A big plus with this approach is that the Fusion’s brake pads are used less and thus last longer.   Ford estimates that 94% of braking force can be recaptured through the system, leaving only 6% for the conventional pads to deal with.

All told after taking the Fusion Hybrid out for a couple miles in city driving we averaged an impressive 59.4mpg.

Ford’s revolutionary SmartGauge with EcoGuide

First Drive: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid - SmartGauge

So while the hybrid technology is impressive it’s only part of the equation. Last October, Ford introduced the brand new SmartGauge system and you’ll find it on the Fusion Hybrid. It’s a huge technological leap in driver information, comprised of a large center analog speedometer flanked by two high-resolution LCD screens. The display can be configured to show varying amounts of information. The driver can choose from one of four configurations.

Inform: Fuel level and battery charge status
Enlighten: Adds electric vehicle mode indicator and tachometer
Engage: Adds engine output power and battery output power
Empower: Adds power to wheels, engine pull-up threshold and accessory power consumption

During our drive (and as displayed above) we used “Empower”.   Aside from being visually pleasing SmartGauge is extraordinarily useful.  The LCD screens show exactly the information you need to drive Fusion Hybrid to its fullest. We especially appreciated the “PWR” gauge, which adapts as the vehicle changes between electric-only and hybrid-gas modes. As throttle is applied the power line moves up accordingly. While in electric-only mode, part of the gauge is shaded green, giving visual representation to how close or far away you are from kicking on the gas engine or returning to electric-only power.

Hybrids have notoriously taken a lot of skill to get the best fuel economy out of them. Being light on the throttle at low speeds usually means you can get by without kicking the gas engine on saving precious fuel. The caveat however is that, until now, you never knew exactly how much throttle was too much. Ford’s SmartGauge smartly fixes that issue.  Give the Fusion Hybrid some “gas”  in electric mode and the “PWR” meter adaptively floats up and down inside its green shaded “EV” range.  The faster you’re traveling, the wider the range the Fusion Hybrid will stay under electric only propulsion. By watching the meter you can give the Fusion just enough throttle to accelerate without kicking on the engine, effectively eliminating the guess work out of hyper-milling your hybrid.

While originally we were concerned the SmartGauage system would be garish or hokey, after using it in real life we walked away extremely impressed.  The LCD displays allow for a lot of information to fit in a compact space and still be readable.   Better yet- there’s no lag.  All the data, gauges, and readouts update smoothly and in real time. Not just a cool toy- Ford’s SmartGauge is a tool for the driver that delivers massive benefit.

Not exactly informative but none the less rewarding is the green leafy vine that grows on the right hand side of the gauges. The concept is simple- the better fuel economy you can achieve the more leaves grow and the bigger your virtual vine becomes. Slack off and your vine wilts away. Check out this example below.

First Drive: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid - SmartGauge

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Photo Gallery

Photos credit: Zane Merva