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car review

2010 Fusion Hybrid

Introduced in 2010, the Ford Fusion Hybrid was powered by a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder gas engine mated to a pair of electric motors and a constantly variable transmission.

The engine featured Atkinson technology, which basically lowers the compression and makes the power stroke a titch longer during the combustion cycle. The electric motors were housed in the vehicle transaxle and fed by a nickel metal hydride battery pack. This system was similar to that found in the Escape Hybrid, but was tweaked and more compact in size. It also allowed the Fusion Hybrid to qualify as a "full" hybrid – one that will run on battery power alone.

Total combined power output for the Fusion Hybrid was 191 horsepower; 155 hp with just the internal combustion engine. In 2010, its Transport Canada fuel consumption ratings were an impressive 4.6 litres/100 km in town and 5.4 on the highway. Ford claimed an optimistic range of 1,127 kilometres on a tank of fuel.

One area where it excelled was in its instrumentation. A full set of gauges front and centre informs the driver about fuel consumption, how much electricity the accessories are consuming, engine rpms and when the internal combustion engine is about to cut in. A cluster of leaf graphics that "grows" and "sheds," depending upon how you drive also helped the driver keep an eye on fuel economy. Conduct yourself in an environmentally sensitive way with a light throttle foot and you were rewarded with a full bouquet of leaves; put the pedal to the metal and you got nothing but a stalk.

Reasonably high equipment level here, with power driver's seat, Sirius satellite radio, air conditioning, ABS, one-touch power windows, remote keyless entry and a full complement of front and side airbags all standard. Options included heated front seats, leather interior, remote start, moonroof, voice-activated navi system, blind spot side detection system and a rear video camera.

Like its non-hybrid stablemate, the Fusion Hybrid offered a fair amount of interior elbow room, but with 334 litres of luggage space, the trunk was on the small side.

Transport Canada has no safety recalls specifically for the Fusion Hybrid, but regular versions may have issues with their automatic transmission shift linkage, seat mechanism and wheels. This latter problem is usually found when you take the car somewhere other than Ford locations for service and they over-tighten the studs on the aluminum wheels when remounting the tires. This can cause the wheels to crack.

The U.S. National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has no safety recalls or technical service bulletins on file for the 2010 Fusion Hybrid. It does, however, have six complaints on file from owners. These range from problems with a faulty engine throttle valve that won't allow the car to be driven at speeds faster than 70 km/h, to the wheel stud problem, to a defective brake line vacuum line, to my personal favourite: "Driver was in small local shopping centre, he turned into parking space, applied brake, when car accelerated over curb on to sidewalk and through front of building." Uh-oh.

Consumer Reports likes the regular Fusion for this year, giving it the "Good Bet" designation. It also favours the Hybrid, and it receives a better-than-average used car verdict. For what it's worth, the 2011 and 2012 versions fare even better. Problem areas are the transmission and fuel and electrical systems. Some comments from owners: "Gassing up once a month is super," "The clever gaining and losing of leaves on the dash have made me a more gas mileage-oriented driver," "Feels like a regular car, not a hybrid" and "I'm getting an excess of 500 miles [800 km] between fillups." One complaint that crops up regularly is the small trunk and lack of fold-down rear seats.

Market research company J.D. Power is also a fan. This organization gives the '10 Fusion Hybrid its highest ratings for overall performance and design and overall dependability. It falls short in terms of accessories quality and design, but otherwise it's sweetness and light.

From a base price of less than $32,000 in 2010, the Fusion Hybrid has dropped in value by about half. Prices are in the mid to high teens these days, depending upon equipment level and mileage.

Tech specs

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Original Base Price: $31,999; Black Book: $15,300; Red Book: $14,625

Engine: 2.5-litre, four-cylinder with AC permanent magnet electric motor

Horsepower/Torque: 191 hp combined/136 lb-ft

Transmission: CVT

Drive: Front-wheel

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 4.6 city/5.4 highway; regular gas

Alternatives: Toyota Camry Hybrid, Honda Insight, Nissan Altima Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Jetta TDI