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2013 Ford Fusion Energi.

Overall Rating
8.5
Overall
The Fusion Energi is an impressive display of technological expertise.
Looks Rating
8.5
Looks
It’s a balanced, elegant look, with interesting creases and a bold stance.
Interior Rating
8
Interior
Comfortable and roomy, the cabin is most notable for the wide array of electronic features and aids.
Ride Rating
8
Ride
This plug-in hybrid is quick and entertaining for a family ride with green credentials. In pure electric drive, the ride is silent and responsive. The hybrid drive works seamlessly.
Safety Rating
9
Safety
An IIHS Top Safety Pick+.
Green Rating
9
Green
If you have a short commute, the Fusion Energi can function almost entirely as a pure EV. But the hybrid system does away with range anxiety.

Ford or Tesla: which electrical vehicle maker and which EV?

Start with Ford. Ford of Canada had a big August selling the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid ($38,899 base) – 20 sold, bringing the year-to-date total to 55 for one of the most technologically advanced cars anywhere.

The Fusion Energi is a real car, built by a global car company and backed by a three-year, bumper-to-bumper warranty. The powertrain is covered for five years or 100,000 km and all the hybrid electrical components are good for 96 months or 160,000.

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Something of a rival to the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid is the Tesla Model S. The basic warranty on a Model S with the 60 kWh battery runs to four years/80,000 km and the battery is covered for eight years/200,000 km.

Of course, the Tesla is a pure EV, while the Fusion Energi is a plug-in with an on-board "range-extending" gasoline motor. Both are modern and aimed at "green" buyers.

Tesla says the basic Model S has a range of 370 km per charge and starts at $78,970. Ford says the Fusion Energi has a battery-only range of 21 miles/33.6 km, while total range is 620 miles/992 km. Yes, the Model S goes much further between charges, yet the Fusion Energi runs on batteries alone for short commutes and has a total range of nearly 1,000 km.

If you want Tesla, you can visit one of the two Tesla stores and galleries listed on the Tesla.com website or call for help. If your Tesla breaks and you live in downtown Toronto, the nearest Tesla service centre is in Mississauga. Tesla.com shows another garage in Montreal and a third in Vancouver. Coming soon: a fourth in Calgary.

Where am I going with this?

Tesla and its Model S are darlings of investors, with the stock soaring to a market cap of more than $20-billion (U.S.). Investors have been liking Ford well enough, too. The stock has been up this year and Ford has a market cap of just less than $69-billion. But investors don't seem to like Ford the way they embrace Tesla.

Part of the reason why is that the Model S has won a bunch of awards, aced crash tests and is the highest-rated vehicle road tested by Consumer Reports. The Fusion has done well in road tests, and is a Top Safety Pick+ by the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). You can decide which is prettier, though both are handsome.

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So here's my question: Why so little love for the Fusion Energi? Tesla and its Model S are generating huge buzz and few critical reviews and reports. The Fusion Energi, which seems something of the equal of the Model S in certain critical ways – but costs half as much – seems something of a marketplace afterthought. Remember, Ford of Canada has sold just 55 of them through the end of August.

Let's not forget that you can buy a Fusion Energi all over Canada and get it serviced in scores of dealerships. Eighty-five of Ford Canada's 430 dealers are certified to handle electrified Ford vehicles. Not Tesla. On the other hand, the Tesla has a slightly better warranty, but not by a great deal.

And the Fusion Energi does boast some amazing fuel economy numbers: 1.9 litres/100 equivalent, gas and electric combined; as just a hybrid, 4.5 litres/100 km combined. Ford says you'll save thousands on fuel over the years if you are a normal driver with a modest commute that allows you to use the EV side of the Energi to best effect.

The argument for the Fusion Energi is straightforward and Raj Nair, head of Ford's global product development, puts it this way: The Fusion Energi is an option for "those who want to drive a hybrid without sacrificing comfort and convenience."

And that's true. The Fusion Energi is a thoroughly comfortable car and it's quick: total horsepower of 195. Even the most basic version comes standard with leather seats and Sync with MyFord Touch. If you want navigation ($700), adaptive cruise control ($1,500) and a rear-view video camera ($300), you'll pay extra, but not everyone needs them.

As with many hybrids and plug-ins, the Fusion Energi offers electronic coaching tools to help you squeeze more out of the green technology – stuff such as SmartGauge with EcoGuide that delivers instantaneous fuel economy numbers. Green leaves tell you your overall driving efficiency and you can scroll through all sorts of other screens to gather information about the Energi and how you're driving.

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Frankly, Ford doesn't get fair credit for loading up with so much technology at a comparatively fair price: Eco cruise, EV mode control by a button, regenerative braking, a hybrid transmission, advanced lithium-ion batteries and even a slick-looking charge port with LED light ring.

The Tesla is an achievement, but so is the Fusion Energi. As I said, where's the love?

Tech specs

2013 Ford Fusion Energi SE

Type: Plug-in hybrid sedan

Base price: $38,899 (destination charge $1,550)

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Gas engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder

Horsepower/torque: 141 hp/129 lb-ft

Hybrid drive: electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack

Combined hybrid output: 188 hp

Transmission: CVT

Drive: Front-wheel

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Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 1.9 litres/100 equivalent, gas and electric combined; as just a hybrid, 4.5 litres/100 km combined; regular gas

Alternatives: Toyota Prius plug-in

globedrive@globeandmail.com

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