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2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid vs. Fusion Energi: Which One Makes More Sense?

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/27/2016 Manufacturer, Zach Gale
2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid vs. Fusion Energi: Which One Makes More Sense?

Being the only vehicle in its class doesn't always guarantee a hit, but that can work in the consumers' favor. Take the Ford Fusion Energi, which for a few years was the only plug-in hybrid in the midsize sedan class. With the average price of gas in the U.S. at $2.24 a gallon (as this is written), it's no wonder Ford reserves its highest Fusion-line incentives for the plug-in hybrid sedan. If the refreshed 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid is on your list, though, does the Fusion Energi also merit consideration?

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I've driven the pre-2017 Fusion Energi plug-in sedan, which doesn't have the EV-only range of a Chevrolet Volt but looks much nicer than the Chevy and the new Toyota Prius Prime. The Ford has a decent amount of interior space, but the same can't be said about the trunk, which is just 8.2 cubic feet in the Fusion Energi, down from the Fusion Hybrid's 12 cu-ft and 16 cu-ft in non-hybrid Fusions. Hope you really like the Fusion Energi's styling, because that 8.2 cubic feet falls below the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In's 9.9, the 2016 Volt's 10.6, and the 2015 Prius Plug-In's 21.6. Toyota says the 2017 Prius Prime has more cargo space than that model.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi front three quarters© Provided by MotorTrend 2017 Ford Fusion Energi front three quarters After recently spending some time in the 2017 Fusion Hybrid, I liked the way it drove even though it felt slower than a 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Through the accelerator pedal on the Fusion Hybrid I drove, I felt a little too much vibration, but it's unclear whether that minor issue is isolated to the cars we drove. Both Fusion hybrid models feel a little heavy but ride well. In Motor Trend testing, a 2013 Fusion Hybrid SE hit 60 in 8.5 seconds, actually 0.6 second slower than a 2014 Fusion Energi Titanium. The Camry Hybrid is objectively quicker, too, at 7.1 seconds to 60, as is a 2016 Malibu Hybrid prototype we tested at 7.4 seconds. The non-PHEV 2016 Sonata Hybrid reached 60 in 8.3 seconds, and we've tested 2014 Accord Hybrids hitting 60 in 7.0-7.4 seconds.

To maximize the Fusion Hybrid's 188 combined-system hp, you could turn off the Eco mode, but I didn't notice much of a difference with it on or off in our short time with the car. The Low gear button on the top of the modern transmission shift dial proved useful for slowing down without using the brakes, which mostly feel natural except their sensitivity at low speeds. As with most hybrids, they might require a quick learning curve before you get used to it.

Read our 2017 Ford Fusion review on non-hybrid models HERE

2017 Ford Fusion Energi front three quarter in motion© Provided by MotorTrend 2017 Ford Fusion Energi front three quarter in motion Safely hypermiling can be a fun way to enjoy a hybrid, and the Fusion Hybrid continues to offer the leaf/plant graphic on one of the two color instrument cluster screens, adding or dropping leaves depending on how efficiently you drive. If you're comparing fuel efficiency of any 2016 or 2017 cars, keep in mind the EPA made more stringent the rating process for 2017, so ratings of 2016-model-year cars may or may not carry over to 2017. Having said that, the 2017 Fusion Hybrid's 43/41 mpg city/highway ratings are respectable, but it's unclear what to expect for the 2017 Camry Hybrid (40-43/38-39 for 2016), 2017 Sonata Hybrid (39-40/43-44 for 2016), or the 2017 Malibu Hybrid (47/46 mpg for 2016). Honda estimates the 2017 Accord Hybrid will earn 49/47 mpg and 48 mpg combined.

The Fusion Energi hasn't been EPA-rated, but Ford estimates the car will be rated for about 21 miles of EV-only range before the gas engine automatically kicks in. That's in line with Toyota's not-yet-rated 22-mile estimate for the 2017 Prius Prime and is lower than the 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid's 27 miles (the 2017 model could change) and 2017 Chevrolet Volt's 53 miles. Depending on your commute, opting for any of these plug-ins could make for a much quieter commute to work.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi homepage© Provided by MotorTrend 2017 Ford Fusion Energi homepage

Regardless of whether you opt for the Fusion's suite of active safety tech, the Ford does well in safety tests. The updated 2017 model has yet to be safety-tested by the NHTSA and IIHS, but all 2016 Fusions received an overall five-star rating from the NHTSA like the Sonata, Malibu, Camry, and Accord. The 2016 Fusion line got Good ratings in four IIHS categories and one Acceptable rating, though that could change for 2017. The 2016 Malibu hasn't yet been fully IIHS tested, but the 2016 Sonata, Accord, and Camry have IIHS Top Safety Pick + ratings.

Deal-seekers might want to take note of aggressive incentives Ford is offering on the Energi model. The incentives, which as this is written appear to range from about $4,000 to $5,500 depending on your ZIP code, slash the plug-in's price to not much more than that of the non-PHEV hybrid model. The math is different depending on where you live, but driving a plug-in can be more fun as you try to maximize your engine-less, quiet driving time.

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid segments are about to become more crowded, with new entries from Hyundai, Honda, and Kia on the way. The Fusion hybrids aren't the most efficient or cargo-friendly in their classes, but they drive well and boast attractive looks in a sedan body style. At the right price, they might just make sense.

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