While ogling the hottest green vehicles at this year's New York Auto Show was a blast, it really didn't compare to getting behind the wheel of one and taking it for a spin. That's why I was really excited when Ford invited me to test drive one of the most advanced vehicles in its fleet -- the 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid -- just a few blocks away from the Javits Center on the streets of Manhattan. With a 620-mile range that is capable of taking a driver from Boston to Virginia Beach on one tank of gas and one full charge, the Fusion Energi was designed to be the most fuel-efficient midsize car in America. But how does it drive? Read on to find out.
The Ford Fusion Energi is Ford’s newest plug-in hybrid and is capable of delivering up to 21 miles in electric-only mode. Marrying an advanced lithium-ion battery and electric motor with a gasoline engine, the EV has a total range of 620 miles and boasts impressive EPA-rated fuel economy figures of 108 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway and 100 MPGe combined. The Fusion Energi also has a total horsepower of 195 (when the battery is fully charged) and a top electric-only speed of 85 mph, which is 23 mph faster than the Toyota Prius plug-in.
Upon first stepping into the vehicle, I found it to be spacious and comfortable with a generous interior that employs eco-conscious materials like recycled plastic bottles and foam made from soybeans. One of the other things I noticed right away in the car was the SmartGauge® with EcoGuide visual feedback program on the dashboard. When I began driving, the display only showed a few green “energy leaves” but as I kept going and engaging proper regenerative braking techniques, more leaves sprouted up to show that I was doing a good job. The idea here is that the visual feedback helps drivers more closely monitor how their driving behavior affects fuel efficiency.
As expected with a plug-in hybrid, cruising in electric-only mode was smooth and quiet, but there was no problem picking up the pace when it came time to accelerate. While we could have continued driving in electric-only mode for about 21 miles before stopping to charge, we could have also pressed the Fusion Energi‘s convenient EV mode button if we wanted to switch to normal hybrid mode or battery conservation mode if we wanted to.
While I didn’t actually try out the charging process (our test vehicle was already fully charged up), I did notice the light ring around the charge port that shows how much power is stored in the car’s battery. The Fusion Energi can be charged using a regular garage outlet, or for those of us in New York, one of the 3,000 EV charging stations that are being added over the next five years.
The Ford Fusion Energi is available now at certified Ford EV dealerships and starts at $38,700. The car is also eligible for a $3,751 federal tax credit.