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2016 Ford Fusion Energi REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 12/8/2016

Con: Significant price premium relative to Fusion Hybrid; limited trunk space; MyFord Touch electronics interface can be frustrating to use.

Interior: Like the standard gasoline-powered Fusion, the Energi has a stylish and well-equipped interior. It features clean lines and quality materials that give the space a pleasantly high-end feel. Front seats are comfortable and supportive, with a significant amount of adjustability that makes it easy for a wide range of drivers to get comfortable. The roof's rearward slope cuts into rear seat headroom, but only unusually tall rear passengers will have cause to complain.

The Fusion Energi's technology features rival those of many luxury models. Standard active noise canceling helps create a hushed environment, especially when driving in all-electric mode. The center touchscreen (MyFord Touch), backed by Sync's many redundant voice commands, is a powerful tool for configuring and controlling the car and your smartphone. On the other hand, there can be a steep learning curve for even basic functions. Even though MyFord Touch works significantly better than when it debuted, it can still be sluggish and unintuitive at times.

With the Energi, you get some additional remote features that are accessible via the MyFord Mobile smartphone app or your personal computer. The system makes it possible to view the battery's state of charge and remaining driving range, heat (or cool) the car's interior or locate charging stations near your destination or along the way.

Perhaps the Fusion Energi's biggest practical limitation is its relatively small trunk. With the oversize battery pack eating up a good chunk of cargo space, there are just 8.2 cubic feet available -- 4 cubic feet shy of the Fusion Hybrid and roughly half of what's available on standard models. The Energi does give you a 60/40-split folding rear seat, though, something not offered on the Accord Plug-In.

Body: The 2016 Ford Fusion Energi is a five-passenger plug-in hybrid sedan that comes in two trim levels: SE and Titanium.

The SE comes well-equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, heated mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming, keypad entry, rear parking sensors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated power front seats (eight-way driver and four-way passenger), driver memory settings, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 110-volt household-style power outlet. Standard electronic features include Sync voice controls, the MyFord Touch electronics interface (with an 8-inch touchscreen and twin 4.2-inch configurable screens in the instrument cluster), a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface.

The Titanium trim adds a rear spoiler, keyless entry and ignition, remote ignition, front sport seats, an eight-way power passenger seat and an upgraded Sony audio system with 12 speakers and HD radio.

The optional Driver Assist package bundles automatic high-beam control, automatic wipers, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Stand-alone options include adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel parking feature, a sunroof, a navigation system and a heated steering wheel. On the Titanium, you can also get ventilated front seats.

Driving: With its dual power sources, the Fusion Energi gives the driver plenty of control over the car's propulsion. The EV Mode button makes it possible to toggle among three distinct settings. Selecting EV Now engages all-electric operation (battery charge permitting), while the EV Auto setting lets the computer decide how best to divvy up the load. There's also a nifty EV Later mode that relies primarily on the gas engine, thereby saving the battery for use in optimal conditions like stop-and-go traffic.

Under combined gas-electric power, the Ford Fusion Energi produces acceptable acceleration in daily driving. Highway passing maneuvers will require a bit of forethought at first, as speed builds more gradually here than what you may be used to, but in general the Energi zips around as capably as a conventional midsize sedan. Performance is sluggish on battery power alone, though, serving well enough in low-speed driving but trailing most pure EVs by a wide margin.

Around town and on the highway, the Fusion Energi has a pleasingly quiet and smooth ride. It's also pretty responsive and precise around turns, which is something not many hybrid models can claim. The only negative here is that, as with most hybrids, the Energi's brakes can be tricky to smoothly modulate until you get used to the pedal's feel.

What’s New: The 2016 Fusion Energi SE gets a standard 10-speaker audio system, and all models receive an EcoSelect button on the center console that moderates power usage to maximize efficiency.

The 2016 Ford Fusion Energi is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor that's fed by a lithium-ion battery pack. The combined output of 195 horsepower is sent to the front wheels. The battery pack, which is considerably larger than that of the standard Fusion Hybrid, allows the Energi to reach speeds of up to 85 mph or to be driven up to 20 miles on electric power alone. That said, aggressive driving will cause the gasoline engine to start up at much lower speeds when the car is in its default EV Auto mode.

The EPA gives the Fusion Energi an energy consumption estimate of 37 kilowatt-hours (kWh) used per 100 miles (the lower the number here, the better), which is essentially a measure of how efficient the Energi is during all-electric driving. Once that all-electric range is used up, the Energi's powertrain operates like that of the Fusion Hybrid and earns an EPA rating of 38 mpg combined (40 city/36 highway).

In Edmunds testing, a Ford Fusion Energi in hybrid mode went from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, a decently quick sprint for such an eco-focused model. In electric-only EV Now mode, however, the Fusion Energi needed a painfully slow 15 seconds to accomplish the same task. Obviously, EV Now mode is intended for maximum efficiency and is best used in leisurely driving conditions.

Ford says the battery can be fully charged in 7 hours with a 120-volt power source or in 2.5 hours using a 240-volt source. We validated these claims in our testing.

Safety: The 2016 Ford Fusion Energi comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, front knee airbags and side curtain airbags. The Ford Sync system includes an emergency crash notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Also standard are a rearview camera and Ford's MyKey, which can be used to set certain parameters for secondary drivers such as teens or valets.

Optional equipment includes inflatable rear seatbelts, blind spot monitoring paired with rear cross-traffic alert, driver drowsiness detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist (which automatically helps the driver keep the car in its lane) and frontal collision warning with brake priming. Rear parking sensors are standard, while front parking sensors are optional.

In Edmunds testing, the Fusion Energi came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, which is an average stopping distance for a plug-in hybrid sedan.

In government crash tests, the Fusion Energi received a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, including five stars for total frontal-impact safety and four stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the regular Fusion the highest possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test and the second-best "Acceptable" rating in its small-overlap frontal-offset impact test. The Fusion received a "Good" rating in the remaining side-impact, roof-strength and seatbelt and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.

Pro: Useful all-electric driving range; many advanced technology and safety features available; relatively sharp handling; composed ride; quiet cabin; eye-catching style.

Edmunds Say: Although the 2016 Ford Fusion Energi is pricey compared with the more fuel-efficient Fusion Hybrid, its 20-mile EV range makes it an appealing choice for local driving.

Introduction: The Ford Fusion is the rare midsize family sedan that comes in three distinct versions. Two of them, the standard gasoline-only version and the fuel-efficient hybrid, will be familiar to many shoppers, and both are top choices in their respective segments. But there's also the 2016 Ford Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid. It has the same styling cues and modern features as its siblings, but the difference is that it can go about 20 miles on battery power alone.

Of course, if you're judging this Ford by pure electric vehicle standards, 20 miles of range isn't anything to brag about on your Twitter feed. But it could be enough for many around-town trips, and the magic of a plug-in hybrid is that once the battery runs out, the car changes over to conventional gas-electric hybrid operation, so range anxiety is never an issue. Indeed, the Fusion Energi is rated at 38 mpg combined in hybrid mode, making for a pretty satisfying Plan B. What's more, charging times are quite reasonable, ranging from 7 hours when using 120-volt current to 2.5 hours with 240 volts.

Otherwise, the 2016 Ford Fusion Energi is just as desirable and likable as the other Fusion models. It has sleek exterior styling, responsive handling, a well-equipped cabin and comfortable seating with plenty of room for four adults. Trunk capacity is limited due to the larger battery pack, but that's to be expected. What's less impressive about the 2016 Ford Fusion Energi is its price, as the standard Fusion Hybrid costs thousands less and offers a superior 42 mpg combined.

In addition to the Fusion Hybrid, consider the Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid, which can only go 13 battery-powered miles but compensates with better hybrid fuel economy. If you're open to a compact hatchback, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is completely redesigned and offers an estimated 50 miles of electric-only range. There's also the mechanically similar Ford C-Max Energi midsize hatchback with its relatively capacious cargo hold. The Toyota Prius Plug-in is less expensive than the Fusion Energi and may meet your commuting needs as well, though its top speed in EV mode is limited to just 62 mph.

You've got options, in other words, but the 2016 Ford Fusion Energi is certainly one of the best all-around vehicles in this diverse segment. If limited EV functionality with hybrid support makes sense for your lifestyle, the Energi definitely deserves a test-drive.

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