2017 Ford Fusion Sport first drive review: Mainstream goes premium Page 2


A sporty sedan, but not a sport sedan

So, how does the Fusion Sport drive? Well, it is certainly faster than its siblings, but it's not a sport sedan. The V-6 engine and its turbochargers and intercoolers add quite a bit a weight mostly over the nose. The addition of all-wheel drive also adds about 150 pounds. All told, the Fusion Sport weighs in at a hefty 3,982 pounds, 301 pounds more than an all-wheel-drive Fusion with the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and 544 pounds more than a base Fusion with the turbocharged 1.5-liter engine.

That means the car is quite nose heavy and therefore doesn't turn in to corners or rotate as willingly as it would if the weight were more balanced. Instead, if you approach a corner carrying too much speed, the car will tend to plow forward in a state of understeer. You really need to slow it down to handle sharp corners. The Sport mode helps rein in any excess body lean, and perhaps the optional summer tires would sharpen turn-in response, but the physics just don't work out in favor of making this car truly sporty.

The ride quality, however, is fairly impressive for a car with 19-inch wheels. Yes, you can feel the bumps more than you will in any other Fusion, but they don't pound through. Those active dampers appear to be doing a fairly good job of giving the Fusion Sport a ride quality at least as good as you will get in a V-6-powered Honda Accord.

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

Enlarge Photo
2017 Ford Fusion Sport

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

Enlarge Photo
2017 Ford Fusion Sport

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

Enlarge Photo

Class-leading power

Enough of the opening act. Let's get to the headliner, the twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6. Under the hood of the Fusion Sport, this engine spins out 325 horsepower and a massive 380 pound-feet of torque. No mainstream midsize sedan breaks the 300-hp barrier and none come close to 380 pound-feet of twist.

Hop in, start it up, goose the throttle, and you are immediately aware that this car sounds better than any midsize sedan. Get on the gas and the engine lets out a "whumm" as it build revs, letting you know there is some serious power at your command. The sound fades into the background when you let off the throttle and is one of the best aspects of the car.

CHECK OUT: 2016 Ferrari 488 GTB first drive review: Mid-engine magic

Take off from a stop and the car accelerates hard, but it doesn't pin you back in your seat like I thought it might. Ford isn't giving 0 to 60 mph times, but in my unofficial testing, I saw about 6.2 seconds. That's fast for a family sedan, but the Accord V-6 can match that time. I'd expect something closer to 5.5 seconds, and maybe someone better at launching a car could achieve a time that quick. The Fusion Sport is undeniably quick, but I expected a little more given all that torque.

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

Enlarge Photo

The Sport mode makes the throttle a little more responsive and holds gears longer, but its transmission programming isn't all that aggressive. Ford calls it an "N - 1" strategy that basically means it's always one gear lower than it would be if Sport mode were turned off. Similar systems probably downshift two or even three gears in their Sport or Sport + modes. 

After an initial drive on rural Michigan roads, I drove the Fusion Sport home to Chicago, covering a total of 249 miles. Over that mostly highway run, i averaged 23.4 mpg, which falls tidily into Ford's estimates of 17 mpg city, 26 highway, and 20 combined. That's decent fuel economy given the power and weight stats.

Bottom line

Pricing for the Fusion Sport starts at about $35,000 and the model I drove was priced at $41,350. For that money, which would you rather have, a premium car like the ATS with a pedestrian engine or a nice mainstream midsize sedan with an engine that makes it sound badass and go like blazes? I'll take the car that punches above its weight over one that plays down to lesser competition, thank you very much.


 
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