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Ford undrapes latest Fusion mid-sized sedan at Detroit auto show

January 09, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch, Reporting from Detroit
  • The new Ford Fusion at the Detroit auto show.
The new Ford Fusion at the Detroit auto show. (Jerry Hirsch / Los Angeles…)

Ford unveiled the new version of its Fusion mid-sized sedan Monday at the Detroit auto show.

The company is looking for the vehicle to cement a complete redesign of its passenger car business.  The Fusion follows new versions of the smaller Focus and Fiesta the automaker has introduced recently as it tries to become less dependent on large trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

The new Fusion features a crisp silhouette and sport design that’s a departure from the conservative styling that has previously dominated the family passenger car category. It is the first sedan to offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.

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A gas-sipping 1.6-liter turbocharged engine is expected to achieve about 26 miles per gallon in city driving and 37 on the highway. The hybrid version is expected to reach 47 mpg in city driving and 44 on the highway. And the plug-in electric hybrid will travel 20 miles on just battery power before the gas engine kicks in.

Ford plans to offer the Fusion in Europe and in other markets under the Mondeo name.

As a family sedan, the Fusion sells in “the world’s most competitive segment,” said Alan Mulally, chief executive of Ford Motor Co.  “This presents a real growth opportunity for us.”

The new generation follows what has become a successful vehicle for Ford.  The automaker sold almost 250,000 Fusions in the U.S. last year. The only passenger cars to do better were perennial leader Toyota Camry and the Nissan Altima.

On the floor of the show, marketing and style executives from rival companies surveyed the vehicle and commented privately that they were impressed with the styling.

Mike Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, the nation’s largest car dealer group, also said he was impressed. Jackson said he was eager to get the vehicle into the showrooms of the company’s 47 Ford dealerships later this year.

Surveying the competition between the new Fusion, a new Camry introduced last year, and new scheduled offerings of the Accord, Altima and Chevrolet Malibu later this year, Jackson said, “The consumer is going to win big-time. They will have more choices and for once they will have it all – great design, great fuel economy and products with innovation.”

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