In 2006, Ford lost more than $12-billion (U.S.) and was closing plants and letting workers go all over the continent. So there was a lot riding on the introduced-for-2006 Fusion, and it was definitely a move in the right direction. It featured a pleasantly neutral body style, all the necessary modcons, and, in most respects, was a step up from the Taurus that it replaced.
In 2007, it was available with either a base 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine or three-litre V-6, and could also be had with all-wheel-drive, which separated it from most of the other models in this category. Mated to the V-6 engine only, the Fusion's AWD system was of the "slip-and-grip" variety and had a front-drive bias. It added some $2,000 to the car's base price.
The V-6 engine was Ford's ubiquitous Duratec powerplant, which in this configuration developed 221 horsepower and was matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Ford did offer a five-speed manual transmission as well, but it only came with the four-cylinder engine. All things considered, the V6 was a titch on the underpowered side - adequate, but the Fusion AWD, weighing in at 1,521 kilograms, could have used a bit more oomph, especially with a load of passengers. On the other hand, for an all-wheel-drive vehicle, this was a fairly thrifty drivetrain combination: 12.6 L/100 km in town and 8.2 L/100 km on the highway, according to Natural Resources Canada.
The Fusion's platform was based on the same unit found in the Mazda6 and the Lincoln MKZ. This made it a mid-size sedan and interior elbow room was actually pretty decent. Apparently, when engineers and designers were working on the back seat of the Fusion, someone wearing size 14 shoes was brought in to make sure that bigger folk had enough room to get in and out of the car without banging into things.
Equipment level was reasonably high. Power windows and door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, heated mirrors, power driver's seat, 60/40-folding rear seat and tilt/telescoping steering wheel were all standard issue and safety equipment included four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, front, side, and side curtain airbags.
The V-6 SEL came with all of the above, plus larger 17-inch wheels and tires, automatic headlights, climate control system, MP3 and a traction control system. You could also order heated front seats, full leather interior, an upgraded sound system, a Navi system and a power sunroof.
No safety recalls for this vintage of Fusion, either from Transport Canada or the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA, however, does list seven technical service bulletins, none of which are earth-shattering. There is a report of loose lumbar controls on the front seats, and a possibly leaky power steering pump and assembly, but most of these alerts are service personnel advisories, and the 2007 Fusion gets a fairly clean bill of health from NHTSA.
Ditto from Consumer Reports, which gives the '07 Fusion its top used-car prediction rating. The V-6/AWD model doesn't seem to fare as well as the front-drive versions, but "reliability has been mostly above average" according to the magazine. Owners comments include "two years and no problems," "gas mileage could be better" and "boring interior controls." A lacklustre turning radius seems to be a common complaint.
Good news as well from market research firm J.D. Power, which gives the 2007 Fusion high marks in most categories. About the only area of concern is the interior design, but otherwise, it receives J.D. Power's "better than most" mark for dependability and overall initial quality.
These days, a three-year-old Fusion is worth about half of what it was new. The base SE model with the manual five-speed is in the low-teens range, while the top of the line SEL with all-wheel-drive is about $2,500 to $3,000 pricier. AWD models tend to be about $1,500 more expensive.
The shape of things to come
2007 Ford Fusion
Original Base Price: $23,499; Black Book Value: $12,575-$15,250; Red Book Value: $10,975-$13,775
Engine: 2.3-litre, four-cylinder/3.0-litre V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 160 hp/156 lb-ft for four-cylinder; 221 hp/205 lb-ft for V-6
Transmission: Five-speed manual/six-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel and all-wheel
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 10.1 city/6.9 highway (four-cylinder with automatic); regular gas
Alternatives: Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Honda Accord, Chrysler 300