By Kate Shifman
DEARBORN, MI — Hybrids, EVs, and fuel efficient vehicles were all the buzz at the Forward with Ford conference in Dearborn, Michigan this week. And after a fantastic presentation by Ford’s Dan Pierce and environmentalist-actor Ed Begley, we finally got to put rubber to the road.
I picked the two main players, the Fusion and the Fiesta. Although the Fusion is a hybrid and Fiesta isn’t, both boast impressive fuel economy, intelligent features, and are very much the cars of the NOW.
My initial impression was that the Fiesta, being smaller and lighter than the Fusion, would be the perfect city car. I can see this little green warrior zooming in and out of lanes, graciously fitting into a city-sized parking spot, and taking me and the girls to the beach. It’s cute, compact, yet roomy inside, and gets 40 miles to the gallon. Now let’s see how it really behaves on the road.
I have to confess that I didn’t drive it in fuel efficiency mode, in fact, I was kind of hammering on the little guy. But don’t write me off as a greenie dressed as petrol head just yet. City driving is intense, it keeps you on your toes and your car in action movie mode. You need peppy acceleration to change lanes when the cabbie in front of you slams his brakes and the guy in the lane you’re merging into speeds up exactly when you turn on your indicator. In my city-simulation test, the Fiesta offered adequate acceleration with fuel consumption hovering around 25 mpg. It did a nice job around the corners and felt safe and stable when I slammed the brakes from 60 to 0. The Fiesta features Ford’s intelligent SYNC in-dash display, which tracks your fuel economy in real time while being entertained by Sirius satellite radio. Quiet ride quality and an array of fun colors add to the Fiesta’s appeal.
The Fusion, on the other hand, is a midsize sedan with leather interior and Ford’s Dual LCD Smart Gauge Cluster in-dash display system. The drive, as expected in a hybrid, was very quiet and smooth. I enjoyed the seamless gear changes and the impressive acceleration of the Fusion. It felt more agile than my 2007 Lexus RX 400h!
Overall, Fusion had a luxurious feel, roomy in both front and back, the controls felt intuitive and well-designed. In line with Ford’s “coaching” philosophy, the Fusion features a neat graphic display that shows your mpg in real time, moving from green to yellow to red when you’re misbehaving.
With its luxury interior, sleek displays, and great gas mileage at 41mpg, Fusion would make a perfect city family car and a trusty road buddy for a professional on the go.
And for more feel good factor, I was surprised to learn that all seats are made of recycled and recyclable materials, and the foam is actually soy-based. Ford has been a pioneer in exploring the use of plant-derived materials in its vehicles since 2000 in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Read my full report and an interview with Ford’s Deb Mielewski about these exciting features here
Both, the Fusion and the Fiesta are fun versatile cars, thoughtfully designed and fun to drive, with a dash of green to satisfy the environmentally conscious.
Videos of Ford Fiesta in action:
Videos of Ford Fusion:
Kate Shifman is a New Yorker, sustainability professional, photographer, and publisher of Solar In The City, a solar and energy efficiency guide for the city dweller.