Car Reviews First Drives

2017 Ford Fusion V-6 Sport First Drive

The Most Powerful Affordable Midsize Sedan

The Most Powerful Affordable Midsize Sedan

Pssst. Over here. Wanna see if you can get head-snapping acceleration in a Ford Fusion? Big power in a practical Fusion midsize sedan?

Turns out that is what Ford has done with the latest addition to the Fusion family: The V-6 Sport with a 2.7-liter, twin-turbo V-6 EcoBoost engine delivers 325 horsepower and an impressive 380 lb-ft of torque.

On some back roads near Detroit, we got a chance to drive the powerful new Fusion. The new model is in dealerships now with a starting price of $34,350 USD, which is less than a top-of-the-line Platinum Fusion and comparable to what you would pay for a base BMW 3 Series with only 180 horsepower. Power-wise, the Fusion delivers more grunt than a pricier 340i and has more torque than an Audi S4 starting around $50,000 USD.

Adding the Sport to the 2017 lineup augments the growing number of trim levels and powertrain options in the Fusion family. There was already a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine; 1.5- and 2.0-liter, turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engines; and a hybrid and plug-in hybrid available in North America Ford adds the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 to the arsenal in the war to prevent customers from migrating from sedans to crossovers and to keep the Fusion fresh because of its importance to the Ford brand and the company as a whole.
2017 Ford Fusion Sport 2 7 liter ecoboost engine

And it is fresh. A lot of power springs to the fore from tip-in. Switch to Sport mode to adjust throttle response and steering and for a more robust engine sound from the way the in-cabin noise cancellation is tuned.

The suspension has new shocks and springs and offers continuously controlled damping—something that had been reserved for Lincoln in North America and Mondeo in Europe. It also made it possible to offer 19-inch wheels, said Ford vehicle integration engineer Chris Murray.

The six-speed transmission has been programed to automatically downshift one gear in Sport mode and not upshift in a corner for more torque. The car has rev-matching, and the paddle shifters do not time out, providing complete control of manual shifting until you disengage them.

The power is packaged in a car engineered to be quiet and to offer a more comfortable ride over potholes while still getting 17/26/20 mpg (14/9/12 L/100km) in city/highway/combined driving. It has adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology to follow traffic, and it also features pedestrian safety systems and park assist.

All-wheel drive is standard, but it contributes to a new curb weight of 3,982 pounds (1,806 kg)—up 512 pounds (232 kg).

The Sport is in response to customer demand for a V-6 and more power, said Todd Soderquist, chief program engineer for Fusion and Mondeo globally. Customers said they still wanted their practical Fusion but sought something sportier than the 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which produces 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. They weren’t looking for an all-out performance vehicle, somewhat to Soderquist’s chagrin: His personal preference would be a Fusion with a rollcage and V-8.

Upgrading to a V-6 was not as simple as swapping out engines. A bigger and more powerful engine requires more cooling, which led to a new front end. The decision was made to give the car a bit of an overall makeover, with a new fascia, mesh grille, LED foglamps, unique 19-inch tarnished dark wheels, and a quad-tip exhaust. Inside are Miko suede seats with leather trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and other touches to distinguish the Sport from the rest of the lineup.

Fusions for the North American market are built in Hermosillo, Mexico.

The Fusion created a stir with its new look for the 2013 model year. Since then, “a lot of people have been gunning for us,” Soderquist said, “so we continue to offer more powertrains and features.”

Executives are not sure how much of the mix the new Sport will be. The Ford Explorer and Edge have Sport models that account for 5 to 10 percent of total sales, but the take rate could be higher with the Fusion, Fusion marketing manager Wade Jackson said, if there is an appetite for a sport sedan.