WASHINGTON -- The mid-size sedan segment was always somewhat boring -- until Ford and a few other manufacturers decided that a stylish mid-size sedan should and would sell well.
In 2013, Ford decided to release a redesigned Fusion with the good looks of an Aston Martin-like front end and, dare I say, the curves of a family sedan. It really has been a hit for Ford. I see them everywhere. There are at least three in the garage at work.
For 2014, Ford added a lower-priced S trim-level to the Fusion Hybrid, making it three trim levels now with prices starting around $26,200. I spent a week with the mid-level Fusion SE Hybrid, which starts at around $27,200, but mine was loaded with all the toys for $35,555.
You get some nice luxury touches for the extra money spent: options such as very comfortable, heated leather front seats, some large 18-inch wheels and classy- looking ruby red paint. The Fusion Hybrid also comes standard with a good rear view camera and optional active park assist -- you control the brake and transmission, and the car will do the rest, parallel-parking for you.
Ford stepped up some of the safety equipment as well, with an optional driver assist package, which includes a blind-spot information system and cross-traffic alert. It makes backing out of a spot easier. The package also includes a lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist and driver monitoring, which will warn that it's time to take a rest if your driving behavior warrants.
I'm a fan of the adaptive cruise control, where you set a distance and speed and it will keep a safe distance without your input.
I liked driving the Fusion Hybrid; it has plenty of room inside for five people, and it's a pleasant place to be with nice materials, which wasn't a strength of the last Fusion. It's very quiet on the highway, with hardly any road or wind noise. The 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine and small electric motor combine for nearly 190 horsepower, which is enough power. When you really get on the gas it can be little coarse-sounding in the higher rev range. But let's face it: You're buying this for the fuel economy, not for drag racing.
I managed 43.2 mpg for the week in 190 miles of mixed driving. That's very close to the new EPA rating of 44 city and 41 highway, which was revised downward from the rating of 47 mpg. The Fusion Hybrid will run on electric power only for short distances if you take it easy. The regenerative brakes are a little touchy at very slow speeds, but otherwise better than older hybrids.
Another slight downside of the hybrid system is the loss of trunk space. The batteries are stored there, and that cuts the trunk's storage space to around 12 cubic feet, for a loss of three or four cubic feet.
I read that some people have trouble with the Ford My Touch system. I found it pretty easy to use, but sometimes it could be a little slow to the touch. I do like how easy it is to use the phone through the system once you pair it with Bluetooth.
The 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid is a solid choice in the mid-size sedan market for those looking to save some cash at the gas pump and still have some luxury features. The Fusion Hybrid might not be a market leader in gas mileage, but it's still pretty close, and in a very good looking, five-seat sedan that looks like you spent a lot more than the starting price.
Editor's Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI ,FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.
© 2014 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.