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2014 Ford Fusion Energi offers maximum hybrid economy for drivers

Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid in  Ice Storm color
Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid in Ice Storm color
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2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE

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The 2014 Ford Fusion continues to be a very popular mid-size 5-passenger sedan offering good value with clean styling plus solid engineering that delivers efficiency and performance along with a very satisfying ride and drive experience for both the driver and passengers.

Energi allows driver to self manage fuel economy
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For 2014, Ford offers the Fusion with multiple power trains that provide a range of drive experiences and value options for the consumer. They include a 2.5L Duratec gasoline engine, three EcoBoost gasoline engines, a hybrid with a 2.0L Atkinson 4-cycle hybrid engine, plus the Atkinson 4-cycle as a plug-in hybrid that they call the Fusion Energi.

Many mid-size segment drivers use their vehicles primarily as short range commuter transportation and want to maximize their fuel cost economy which is best done through the use of an all-electric vehicle. But many also want the capability to use their vehicle for long trips beyond the range of typically priced all-electric vehicles - and still get the best fuel economy possible. Plus they want all of that packaged in a mid-size sedan that is stylish and well equipped with premium features and amenities.

The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi meets those needs with its plug-in hybrid power train offering.

The Fusion is powered by the Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Hybrid Engine that generates 141 horsepower. It is Integrated with an advanced lithium-ion battery power pack that - together - drive the electric motor to deliver 188 horsepower combined through an Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT) to the 17-inch wheels. The combined power train is fuel economy has a rating of 100 MPGe with a gas-only rating of 43 mpg combined city/highway.

The Energi allows the driver - through an EV Mode button on the console - to drive in all-electric (EV NOW) mode and maximize fuel economy on short commutes by going electric-only for short trips. With an electric-only range of 21 miles - contrary to generally held thinking - a large share of everyday driving in most communities is under 20 miles and could be done in battery (electric) mode.

When the driver wants to take longer trips, they then switch to normal hybrid operation (AUTO) and the system decides - depending on the conditions - the appropriate levels of gas engine and electric power from the battery pack to use that maximizes range and fuel economy. Ford says depending on road conditions and driver driving style that, with the 14 gallon gasoline fuel tank, the Energi system has a range of up to 620 miles - well more than enough for longer trips including taking full day trips or even vacations.

The Fusion Energi can be recharged in the same manner as an all-electric vehicle. A 110-volt power connector is included that plugs into a port on the left front fender and, connecting to standard household power, fully recharges the battery in 7-8 hours. While commuting, subject to availability, the driver can also recharge the battery at battery charging stations in parking lots and at business locations as needed. There is a 240 volt battery charging option available that enables a recharge in 2-3 hours.

We recently completed a week-long test of the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE - driving it around town on local errands as well as day trips in the area using both highways and country roads. The Fusion Energi met all of our expectations for drive comfort and performance all through the week.

Our 2014 Fusion Energi SE had a base sticker price of $38,700 and came well equipped with a range of features and amenities that included all of the styling, features and capability typical of the Fusion mid-size sedan - no matter the power train.

Some of those key standard features on the cleanly styled interior were heated leather seats that featured 10-way power adjustment for the driver and 4-way power adjustment for the passenger. Also included were dual-zone automatic climate control with rear air ducts, tilt and telescoping steering, leather wrapped shift knob and steering wheel with audio controls, auto dimming mirror, cruise control and dual vanity mirrors.

Other standard items included a 110-volt power outlet, three 12-volt power points, electric power assisted steering, Hill Start Assist, keyless entry, power and heated folding mirrors with approach lamps, fog lamps, 17-inch wheels and halogen automatic headlamps.

Standard electronics in the Fusion are Sync voice-activated audio and cell-phone interface, CD player, Sirius satellite radio, iPod/USB interface and auxiliary audio jack - all through a very nice 6-speaker sound system. Driver and infotainment information is displayed on a 8-inch central stack touch screen color display and two 4-inch configurable gauge cluster displays on the IP.

Our 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE included several premium/luxury options costing a total of $5,125. They included Active Park Assist, Reverse Sensing System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Navigation System, Rear View Camera, Push Button Start, and the Driver Assist Package providing Blind Spot Monitoring, Cross Traffic Alert and the Lane Keeping System.

Including delivery, our test 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE priced out at $44,620.

It needs to be pointed out that there is a significant premium ($7,500 base MSRP) for the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid when compared to the Fusion Hybrid. The Energi provides opportunity for owners to effectively manage their operating cost (fuel economy) by managing the Fusion Energi's power train flexibility through the EV Mode system - matching it to their driving needs as appropriate.

During our test drive over the course of the week, we drove the Energi in AUTO Mode only once - to take a longer day trip of about 150 miles. The rest of the entire week, our local area driving needs, including into the city, were well within the all-electric range (EV NOW) mode with plugging in each time we returned home.

One downside to note on the Energi is that the battery pack takes more room in the trunk - reducing the luggage capacity by 50 percent when compared to the gas engine Fusion. Though it could impact luggage capacity on a vacation or the number of golf bags can be loaded, we found it was still plenty big enough for trips to the grocery or hardware store.

For many, the Fusion Hybrid will be just right for their needs, but for many others the Fusion Energi Plug-in will be what they want and will enable them to measurably self-manage their total fuel economy.

The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in gives them that choice.