I’m asked all the time about hybrids, and, frankly, I find them hard to love (especially the Prius). Plug-ins, on the other hand, including the Chevy Volt and this car, the Ford Fusion Energi, actually work for me. Why? Because you can drive them around as electric cars for most of the day (up to 24 miles in the case of the Fusion Energi), and when the juice runs out, you continue on your merry way sipping gas. Plug-ins are the best of both worlds.
The Fusion is the most normal-feeling of all plug-ins, which should be reassuring to people who don’t dig the shape of the Volt. And it is effectively an all-electric car so long as there’s enough juice in the battery, with the gas engine kicking on only under hard acceleration. Steering and handling are largely unaffected by the more complex powertrain. The only driving weirdness—other than being in a big sedan that glides along more silently than your boyfriend after you missed your anniversary—is the braking, which is somewhat jerky as the brake energy regeneration system and conventional brakes attempt to work together to slow the car most efficiently. I do love, however, the virtual braking coach, which shows you what percentage of the brake energy you’ve recaptured after each stop. Cool.
In most other respects, the Fusion Energi is just like other Fusions, with the same son-of-Aston Martin styling, the same spacious and well-styled interio, and the same bevy of high-tech equipment.
What about plugging in? Well, the car comes with a thick wire that connects a port on the front right fender to the wall outlet—which wall outlet, exactly, is entirely up to you; I had to poach power from a nearby outlet in my condo complex for two of the five days I had the car. Charges can take anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight, depending on what strength of plug (110V or 220V) you have access to. Of note: if you purchase a plug-in or EV and live in an apartment building, the building is required by law to allow you to install a car-charging station—usually at your expense—in your parking spot.
The cheapest Fusion Energi model is the SE, which comes reasonably well-equipped for $39,495, which is nearly $15K more than the non-hybrid Fusion SE—no one said those batteries come cheap. My SE-grade tester came with about $5,000 worth of options—like radar cruise, lane-keeping assist, reverse sensors, navigation and more—bloating the price to an eye-watering $44,620. That’s BMW money, and for that, its leather should feel less vinyl-esque, and the wheels oughta look dressier. And then there’s the trunk, a huge portion of which is taken up by the big, heavy battery pack.
With its 100 mpg-equivalent fuel economy rating from the EPA (I averaged the low 80 mpg range since I didn’t plug in every night), the Fusion Energi is as efficient as it is pretty. And while it’s a little expensive, I wholeheartedly approve of the purchase for people who want an EV but don’t want the range anxiety that comes with it.
2015 Mustang: Ford’s only product that’s hung like a horse.
Ford’s noble steed just got way better for 2015, with its first all-new redesign in years. Smaller, lighter and way more fuel-efficient, the new ‘Stang is state-of-the-art in ways you would never associate a muscle car to be. I predict this will be a real gay fave for 2015.