Rental Car Review: 2014 Ford Fusion SE

IMG_20140502_201836 Last fall, I told you about my experience with the 2013 Chevy Cruze LTZ. We had rented it for a trip down the Oregon coast, and we enjoyed our time in the car; the EcoTec 4-cylinder handled my right-food requests well enough, and it rode like a sporty compact should. This past weekend, we made the same trip again, but in a 2014 Ford Fusion SE with the EcoBoost engine. How would the Ford measure up? Take the jump below to find out. First things first, and make no mistake – the Fusion is a good-looking car. It has just enough aggression to be exciting, while being spacious and comfortable enough to make your grandmother happy. Not that she would want to drive it, of course, with all the buttons and menus and settings that you have to use just to drive the thing, but more on that later. The long lines of the car flow to a nicely shaped back end, with a rear deck that reminds me of the Pontiac Grand Prix. I was a little surprised by the attention this car got while we were on the road; a few looks and one compliment are more than you would usually expect from a car that was rented. The blue does look great with the chrome grille and the 17″ aluminum wheels (which someone had already managed to gouge pretty bad), and it has good stance. By the way, look at that front fender and headlight and tell me you don’t see the Mustang. IMG_20140502_202127 Under the hood, the 1.5L 4-cylinder EcoBoost is surprisingly and satisfyingly competent, hauling the big car with ease. It gives out about 175hp and similar torque, which is enough for most people who are going to be driving this. On more than one occasion, though, I found myself wanting about 20 more of each. The benefit to the modest power from the 4-cylinder is really good mileage. We managed nearly 35 mpg roundtrip, which is more than the advertised 22/34 for this engine. It does best between 60 and 70mph, gliding along almost silently; in fact, there was a fair bit of wind noise around the A-pillar on the passenger side, but it seems like it was a poor window seal and not a design flaw. IMG_20140505_091611 Inside, the choice of beige cloth was a really unfortunate choice; all five seats had stains of some kind, and even the beige plastic showed smudges and dirt. Gray would have been much better, or leather. Also, the electric steering would give me some strange feedback once in a while on the highway, but parking was a snap. However, my biggest complaint has nothing to do with the cloth under my backside or the wheel in my hands and everything to do with the shoulder lines along my, er, shoulder! The seating position for someone my size is all the way to floor, reclined somewhat, and pushed away from the steering wheel. It was very strange not to be able to rest my elbow comfortably on the window sill, and to have the shifter next to and higher than my knee (I drive a ’92 F-150, you have to remember). Getting in and out took some practice, but my petite wife had no problems at all, whether driving or riding. Awesome cupholders, though; they held my giant iced tea cups with no problem. Then there’s Microsoft Sync. After dealing with MyLink in the Cruz last fall, I was not looking forward to another intrusive, unintuitive system that I would spend more time swearing at than using. As it turns out, I had no reason to worry, because once I had my phone synced, everything worked flawlessly. Every setting and system on the display is mirrored on the instrument cluster, meaning I never had to touch the screen. It was a breeze to change the station, make a phone call, or bump up the A/C without ever taking my hands off the wheel. IMG_20140505_092005 What an unfortunate color. IMG_20140502_202222 The Fusion rides and handles like a much sportier car, making quick work of the many bends and twists along the Pacific Coast Highway. In fact, I took it down a very enjoyable back road near our house (think the first sector at Monaco without the rich people) after we got home, and was surprised at how well it gripped in the corners. The torque delivery is almost instant, very smooth, and always available. IMG_20140502_202024_hdr One of the many reasons to road trip on the 101 – awesome sunsets and stunning scenery just yards from the highway, like this one here. I learned two things during my time with the 2014 Fusion: Portland traffic sucks all day, and the Fusion is a really good car. It’s one of the best all-around cars I’ve driven, and I was sorry to take it back. [Photos Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Marcal Eilenstein]

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