Monday, December 22, 2008

Ford Fusion Hybrid

FORD Smartguage Instrument Panel
The user interface is smooth and polished, with no lag in between screens and the interface proved far easier to use than we expected. The twin 4.3" TFT LCD screens that flank the center, traditional speedometer run at 800x480 pixels, which is basically high definition resolution, and are incredibly easy on the eyes. The screens are manipulated using steering wheel mounted buttons and the myriad options are easy to navigate. The gauges are completely reconfigurable, but you can pick predefined packs of gauges ranging from super simple fuel and temp all the way up to NORAD command central level, graphing fuel economy in real time and reporting specs on your last trip, power draw from accessories, and output from the gas engine and hybrid engine independently. Based on our limited time with the thing we were impressed. This system will compliment the hybrid tech on the Fusion quite nicely and give customers that "surprise and delight" designers are always after.Yeah, LCD instrument panel, Michael Knight, eat your heart out.
Harder acceleration causes the EV window to the shrink. Back off the accelerator and the window expands. The size of the window is dependent on several factors including the temperature, driver demand and battery state of charge. As the power output needle falls within the EV window, the engine shuts off. The key turns out to be to modulate the accelerator to keep the needle inside the window.
Spending more time with the Fusion would certainly lead to getting a better feel for maximizing mileage without constantly looking at the gauge. However, really maxing out the fuel economy takes a lot of concentration. This level of concentration is probably far more than can be expected of most drivers. They will likely find themselves just looking at the leaves that grow as driving becomes more efficient. Our guess is that, realistically, most drivers will probably see numbers in the mid- to upper-30 mpg range.

All the Fusions, including the hybrid, are much more refined for 2010 with effort spent particularly on noise, vibration and harshness. Structural components have been enhanced to reduce vibrations, while new seals and acoustic materials keep out exterior ambient noise and absorb what does get through.

Ford claims the Fusion Hybrid is capable of “at least 39 MPG City/37 MPG highway.” The fact that we managed to best those figures while driving in heavy Los Angeles traffic (passing through Beverly Hills and Hollywood) illustrates the degree to which driving style can effect fuel economy. The Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Fusion's chief competitor, is officially rated at 33 MPG city/34 MPG highway.A fuel economy of whopping 43.8 MPG was achieved during the test drive by the popular auto journalists Jalopnik and Autoblogreen.

Overall, the Fusion hybrid is an outstanding effort on Ford's part. The engineering team led by Gil Portalatin and JD Shanahan has wrought improvements across the board on the mid-size sedan family. At this moment in time, the hybrid in particular appears to be the head of the class by a significant margin. Of course, Toyota and other competitors never sleep and the Camry will surely get updated soon. Hyundai also has a Sonata Hybrid coming later in 2010. However, the Fusion Hybrid is a car that buyers looking for a high-mileage sedan should definitely consider.

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