Fusion gets 1.5 turbo; ped safety explored

Ford Motor Co. is refining a pedestrian-detection safety system. (Ford)

Ford Motor Co. is refining a pedestrian-detection safety system. (Ford)

We’ve moved fully into the new model year, with 2015 cars and trucks all over the showrooms.

Yet, delivered recently to me was a 2014 Ford Fusion SE, and I was glad to get it, for two reasons:

In order to view Ford’s popular new color, the Dark Side, and to test its smaller 1.5-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

The Ford Fusion is a good-handling, roomy midsize sedan. (Bud Wells photo)

The Ford Fusion is a good-handling, roomy midsize sedan. (Bud Wells photo)

At first glance, the Dark Side finish on the Fusion appeared to be black. As I walked closer, it seemed to be a dark blue, Ford says it is dark gray and several others who walked around it said they saw a dark green cast to it.

The new engine might be the bright side of the dark side, particularly if the driver keeps a foot deep into the acceleration process. The 1.5 is a little light on low-end torque, but the turbo boost overcomes much of the delay, with help of a switch on the shifter knob which engages the 6-speed automatic transmission’s manual mode for better-controlled shifts. The SE is of front-wheel-drive configuration.

Announced during the week I was driving the Fusion was an interesting safety development by Ford Motor Co. aimed at the surge in recent years of car/pedestrian accidents.

Ford, and other makers, respond to surge in car/pedestrian accidents. (Ford)

Ford, and other makers, respond to surge in car/pedestrian accidents. (Ford)

This is timely for our area. Of nearly 4,800 pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. in 2012, 76 were in Colorado, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It seems there has been no letup in numbers of car/pedestrian collisions in Denver and Colorado since.

Available new technology from Ford – pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection – is designed to reduce the severity of, and, in some cases, even eliminate frontal collisions involving pedestrians.

Debuting on the 2015 Ford Mondeo in Europe (which is the Fusion in the U.S.), the detection system provides a collision warning to the driver and, if the driver does not respond in time, can automatically apply the vehicle brakes.

The system uses radar and camera technology to scan the roadway ahead to determine collision risk. The assist also may help drivers avoid rear-end collisions with other vehicles at all speeds.

“This technology adds to the list of driver-assist technologies Ford customers already benefit from today,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. He mentioned lane-keeping aid, blind-spot information with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and active park assist.

The new system processes information collected from a windshield-mounted camera and radar near the bumper, then checks the information against a database of pedestrian shapes to help distinguish people from typical roadside scenery and objects.

If a collision seems imminent, the driver first receives an audible and visual warning. Should the driver not respond, the system improves brake responsiveness by reducing the gap between brake pads and discs. It there is still no response, the brakes are applied automatically and vehicle speed is reduced. Several other makers have similar pedestrian safety features. More information regarding the new system is available at ford.com.

The Fusion is among the top-five-selling midsize sedans in the country, with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Hyundai Sonata.

The SE model I drove, a nimble performer, is a reasonably priced four-door, with a sticker price of $28,625.

It is quiet and comfortable out on the road. Seating position is low for the front passenger, and there is no adjustment, power or manual.

The Fusion is very roomy in the rear-seating area and offers trunk space of 16 cubic feet. Ford’s rear inflatable seat belts were added as a $190 option; among standard airbags are dual front, front-side impact, driver/passenger knee and side air curtain.

Equipped with the 1.5 turbo and 6-speed automatic, the Fusion SE carries an EPA estimate of 23/36 miles per gallon; my overall average was 27.8.

Ford’s new engine is 1.5-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost. (Bud Wells photo)

Ford’s new engine is 1.5-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost. (Bud Wells photo)

Ford Sync technology offers hands-free access to phone, navigation and audio. Other amenities include rearview camera, dual-zone air conditioning, sport wheels, rear spoiler, intermittent wipers, rear window defroster, Sirius satellite, power locks/mirrors/windows and trip computer.

On several occasions, the engine cranked over several times before starting; a pressure adjustment to the fuel pump corrected the crank time.

For 2015, the Fusion offers, in addition to the 1.5-liter turbo, a base engine of 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder with 178 horsepower and a turboed 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder EcoBoost with 240 hp.

 

Here are the specifications for the ’14 Ford Fusion SE four-door:

  • Capacity 5-passenger
  • Wheelbase 112.2 inches
  • Length 191.7 inches
  • Width 72.9 inches
  • Height 58.2 inches
  • Curb Weight 3,427 pounds
  • Track 62.7 inches front, 62.4 rear
  • Ground Clearance 5.5 inches
  • Turn Circle 37.6 feet
  • Drivetrain Front-wheel-drive
  • Engine 1.5-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower/Torque 181/185
  • Transmission 6-speed automatic
  • Steering electric power-assisted
  • Fuel mileage estimate 23/36
  • Fuel mileage average 27.8
  • Fuel Tank 16.5 gallons, regular unleaded
  • Wheels 18-inch
  • Cargo Volume 16 cubic feet
  • Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles basic, 5/60,000 powertrain

Competitors Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata

Assembly Plant Hermosillo, Mexico

Parts Content N.A.

Base Price of Lowest Model $21,970; Base Price of Review Model $23,935; Destination Charge $825; Sticker Price $28,625.