Just a week before our arrival in Florida for the Rolex 24 at Daytona road race, we were told the Lincoln MKC we were supposed to be driving was unavailable; would we like a 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD? Sure, haven’t driven one of those – bring it on.
These things happen all the time in the car-review business. People prang cars; cars need maintenance. It’s no big deal and it was okay because the Ford Fusion is a mid-size, 5-passenger four-door sedan, in this case with all-wheel-drive, which could come in handy in Daytona International Speedway’s infield if it got soggy.
The rich white platinum metallic tri-coat exterior of the Fusion adds richness to its luscious sculpted body lines and the dark red mixed with charcoal black leather interior is easy on the eyes. P235/40R 19-inch Continental tires mounted on handsome twinned 5-spoke alloy rims add to the luxe look.
The Ford Fusion is offered with a number of different power trains; this particular example has a 2L inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine with an ample 231 horsepower at 5500 rpm and balls-o-fire 270 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm. There is a 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission with paddles at the steering wheel. The all-independent front strut and rear multi-link suspensions produce a well-damped ride; brakes are excellent and electric power steering is a bit light to the touch.
The 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD model has a true proximity key so the fob can be kept in a pocket and left there. Doors open and close with a hand to the openings. The nice bi-level central covered storage has audio jacks, 2 USB plugs, a 12-volt and an SD card slot with the Sync card loaded. The floor is hard plastic on both levels. There’s deep open storage below the central stack.
The one objection I have to this car is a common one amongst reviewers: the electronics can be maddening to work with, making this “connected” car somewhat less so. Pairing the phone was impossible after several tries; the optional active park assist came on at slow speeds as we drove through Daytona’s massive infield; warnings came on for no apparent reason and the red bar of lights that intends to advise drivers of a forward crash are be a bit on the sensitive side. I’m not a fan of extensive driver aids; the Ford Fusion has too many for me (but maybe not for you).
This particular 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD has a lot of options that raise its sticker price from $36,415 to $39,950. Many of these options are what I call “nannies”, or technological bits intended to make the driver inured from injury or accident. These include the active park assist, adaptive cruise control and driver assist package (lane-keeper and cross-traffic alert). There’s a fee for the paint, heated/cooled front seats, navigation system, rear inflatable seat belts, leather appearance package and premium floor mats.
Still, it’s an awfully nice ride, particularly on freeways and that adaptive cruise can be set to allow fairly close running. The Fusion is very comfortable for long stretches at a time, particularly for the driver with the adaptable power seat that has three memories. There are grippy cup holders in the central tunnel and cup holders in each door. Rear seat passengers have their own air flow and both 12-volt and 115V plug-in capabilities. The huge, 16-cubic-foot trunk has 60/40 split to make it even more capacious and there are tie-down hooks for nets at the opening, plus a mini-spare below the floor.
This particular 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD is rated at 22/31/25 mpg from its 17.5-gallon tank and regular fuel is accepted. We never came close to those figures even using cruise control much of the time, averaging 25mph at best over the road, which I find a bit disappointing, even though the Fusion weighs 3743 pounds as tested. Still it’s a very safe car, rating an overall score of five stars with the only three-star item being front-seat side crash-worthiness. The Fusion is an IIHS top safety pick award winner with good ratings in all categories.
We enjoyed our time in the 2014 Ford Fusion, which had been ridden hard for more than 16,000 miles before we climbed into it. It made a very nice Fusion Motel on Saturday night at the race track with its wide rear seat and kept me in sleep mode for more than 4 hours, which is a new record for my rear-seat sleeping. And for barreling up and down I-95 without bringing attention to itself, the Fusion was a perfect partner.
While its wheelbase is identical to the somewhat larger Ford Taurus sedan, the Fusion Titanium AWD presents a far more inviting visage and it’s got a competent chassis that’s close to both Honda’s Accord and the Mazda6, albeit a bit less sporting than those front-wheel-drive vehicles. If AWD is important in your area of the world, this is a great choice for everyday and long-trip driving. And isn’t that what everyone’s looking for: the best motoring compromise? Check it out.
Words and images by Anne Proffit