Build a solid, well-equipped car that gets great fuel economy and comes at a fair price.
Do that for 20 years with a reputation for reliability and you’ll have a product people will buy without thinking twice.
Need a short cut? Deliver the same recipe in a package so dramatically good looking people dream about parking one in their driveway.
A FAMILIAR FACE
I am of course referring to the 2013 Ford Fusion, a car that rolls down the street with the presence of a European sports car. Sure Ford’s design department has all the originality of a college paper ripped from the pages of Wikipedia, but in the marketplace of public opinion (as in the actual marketplace) cheating is rewarded.
In fact, Ford’s design department should be praised as much as ridiculed. As a part of the brand’s “One Ford” plan models are now sold, in nearly identical packaging, in a global marketplace. The marketing team will tell you they did extensive studies to determine a universally attractive design and (cue the sarcastic surprise), an Aston Martin front grille does the trick.
Would you blame Toyota if the next Camry looked like a Ferrari? You might, but you’d also buy one.
Inside, the Fusion is noticeably less dramatic. There’s a monotone uniformity about the cabin, with even the center stack lookin like a slab of matte-gray plastic. Base fabric seats are as nondescript as can be, while the coarse black leather on our Titanium test model has a faux luxury feel.
It does give the Fusion a sporting vibe and the hide is similar to that of a BMW. You’d think a comparison to a German automaker would be a positive, but in this case its not, especially when we’re talking about a $37,000 family sedan – which for the record is slightly more than a base BMW 328i.
At this price the Fusion is far from base, with safety and convenience features to match the car’s luxury look. Adaptive cruise control is included with a pre-collision system and even a class-exclusive lane keeping feature. Thi warns you if you’re drifting out of your lane by vibrating the steering wheel and will also add steering to pull you back into the lane if deemed necessary.
It’s hard not to be impressed when looking atthe display screen on the center stack or the dual LCDs bookending the central speedometer in the gauge cluster. It drips “perceived value” just like the aroma of freshly baked dough and cinnamon will get you standing in line at Cinnabon.
TECH: IMPROVE IT, OR JUNK IT?
MyFord Touch is still an unfortunate mess. It doesn’t work terribly well, nor does Sync. It took myself and my video producer 20 minutes to get the system to lead us to a Panda Express.
An early adopter in the in-car technology push, the market seems to have shifted directions but Ford’s frustraiting technology continues on its course. Every other automaker has a simplified system of having your smartphone essentially act as the car’s computer. Ford is still trying to put its computer in the car.
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