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Ford's new Fusion Energi hybrid gives driver choice of motors

Melissa Riofrio | March 25, 2013
Ford's fifth alternative energy vehicle lets the driver choose either the gasoline or electric motor to power the car.

The instrument cluster has two displays that show fuel-economy data in various configurations, as well as infotainment settings.

The instrument cluster shows various kinds of fuel-economy information.

You toggle through the displays using buttons on the steering wheel.

Buttons on the steering wheel let you toggle through the instrument-cluster display options.

The central display has a special screen to show you how your battery is being used throughout the car.

The central display has a special screen to show you how your battery is being used throughout the car.

Because it's a plug-in hybrid, you have two options for charging the battery. You can use regenerative braking, which converts the car's forward momentum into battery energy as the car slows down. This is common in hybrid cars. Or, you can plug the car into a home or public charging station. A circle of LEDs surrounding the charge port give you at-a-glance charge status.

Ford's MyFord Mobile app and Web site help you track your charging status. The apps will even tell you if your car is unplugged from a charging station; this is especially useful in public locales, where other drivers might decide it's their turn to get some juice. Ford also just announced a partnership with PlugShare to provide even more charging station data than it already offered. According to Ford, PlugShare offers information on more than 11,500 charging stations nationwide.

I couldn't check the charging-station app during my brief test drive of the Energi around downtown San Francisco, but I could switch among driving modes and use one of the instrument cluster's many displays to monitor my fuel economy. You can definitely tell the difference between the low rumble of the gas motor and the almost eerie silence of the electric motor, depending on which is in operation. After spending a week recently with the Ford C-Max Hybrid, I came to appreciate the extra bit of serenity that can come from the lack of engine noise while driving.

The Fusion Energi will list for $27,995, $1600 less than its predecessor. In California, it will qualify for the $1500 tax credit and HOV-lane access. It's a nice addition, offering the traditional sedan look and lots of choices for how to use its powertrain.


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