Expert Reviews

Test Drive: 2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum

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The numbers are eye-popping: $32,288 – $7,730 = $24,588. For those Ontario residents considering the purchase of a 2017 Ford Fusion Energi SE plug-in hybrid, that’s a pretty sweet bit of arithmetic. Quebec residents can expect a $4,000 rebate on this car, and those in BC will receive a $2,500 green-bribe from their provincial coffers. For the rest of Canada, full MSRP please, or whatever discounts Ford and the dealer offer.

If short commutes and not much cargo hauling are part of your MO, the plug-in Fusion is a screamin’ deal – in Ontario.

In the case of this top-trim Energi Platinum, the $7,730 Ontario government EV rebate drops the price from $42,088 to $34,358.

The Fusion Energi is a plug-in version of the Fusion Hybrid sedan. What does this mean? In a nutshell, the Energi gets a larger battery pack that can take charge from the wall, and this bestows up to 35 km of pure electric driving before the gas engine kicks in. So you can park your Fusion at the groovy “electric-only” spots at IKEA, plug it in and enjoy free electric fuel while you shop (and look) green. It also means that if you actually buy any furniture you’ll have to drive home and get the SUV, because the Energi’s 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack eats up a big chunk of the trunk. At 226 litres, it’s half the volume of a gas-powered Fusion’s, and the pass-through is a mere sliver. In our mid-size sedan comparison, it had the smallest usable cargo space of the group.

If this functional compromise is a deal breaker, you might as well go get a coffee now. However, if short commutes and not much cargo hauling are part of your MO, the plug-in Fusion is a screamin’ deal – in Ontario. In fact, a couple grand cheaper that the “regular” non-plug-in Fusion. And this makes it almost worth considering.

For 2017, the Ford Fusion undergoes a mid-cycle refresh that includes exterior and interior tweaks along with some new tech. Up front we see a wider Aston Martin-esque grill with sharper corners, and out back re-contoured LED taillights and rear fascia spruce things up. The big change inside is the adoption of a Jaguar-like rotary-style shift selector that frees up space on the centre console. The dual cup holder is relocated to the front, the armrest is longer and Ford tells us there is forty percent more console storage space.

The cabin in this Energi Platinum feels airy and inviting, swathed in soft leather and generally built to a high standard. The only signs of cost-cutting are found in the lower reaches where some flimsy plastics show up. It must be noted that Ford supplies its upscale Fusions with spectacularly comfortable and supportive 10-way power front seats – some of the best I’ve had the pleasure of plunking my posterior in.

Ford’s colourful and clear major gauge cluster is a familiar and welcomed sight, and the standard 12-speaker Sony audio gets an A+ from this musician.

The top-spec Platinum come with a sunroof, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, reverse sensing, blind-spot detection, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, voice-activated navigation, stitched instrument panel, LED headlights, 110 volt power outlet, and adaptive cruise with stop-and-go.

Ford’s new SYNC 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto replaces the creaky old MyFord Touch. It is a big improvement. The menu system is logical, icons are bigger and response time faster. The screen now has swipe functions and pinch-to-zoom if equipped with navigation. If you want to impress your passengers, simply say “zoom out” or “zoom in”. Ford has revamped the voice recognition to identify a myriad of new and useful commands, like “I’m hungry”, after which a list of nearby restaurants pops up.

Setting a destination for the nav is as simple as reciting the address. And just having an immediate (and correct) response to “AM 680” or “FM 99.1” is heavenly. You’d be surprised by the number of voice systems that can’t get that right on the first try.

The Fusion Energi’s 2.0L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder and electric motor combine for 188 hp, and drive the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. While this hybrid is hardly quick, the electric motor provides a nice shove of torque off the line, giving some poke in city driving. As far as hybrid systems go, this is a good one. It shuttles between power sources with barely a ruffle.

The regenerative brakes, however, are hyper grabby, requiring serious recalibration of the right foot. That said, I soon adjusted my technique to accommodate these sensitive binders.

The 2017 Fusion Energi comports itself like a premium vehicle – the ride is refined, the cabin is inviting and remarkably hushed, and those front seats are to die for. The only real disturbance is the drone from the gas engine when the throttle is matted (thank the CVT for that). However, handling is compromised by the Energi’s considerable mass. At 1,828 kg, this is one porky sedan (batteries and hybrid tech add weight), and this is felt when diving into a corner with any kind of vigour.

For those into hybrid coaching, there is a display that rates braking performance and another leafy screen that encourages green driving by growing more foliage the more you hold up traffic. With the battery depleted, the 2017 Fusion Energi netted 6.5 L/100 km on my watch. If your commute is short and there is an EV plug-in at work, it’s possible to become a relative stranger at the local filling station.

And that is the only scenario that would make the Fusion Energi a viable proposition. In the pursuit of waving the green flag a little higher, the plug-in Fusion takes on a load of compromise – weight, loss of trunk space, grabby brakes, and (if you don’t live in Ontario, Quebec or BC) a considerable price penalty.

Engine Displacement 2.0L, 68 kW motor
Engine Cylinders 4
Peak Horsepower 188 hp
Peak Torque 129 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 2.4 Le/100 km; 5.5/5.7/5.6 L/100 km (cty/hwy/cmb)
Cargo Space 226 L
Model Tested 2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum
Base Price $42,088
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,750
Price as Tested $36,208
Optional Equipment
None; Ontario Government EV Rebate ($7,730)