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Peters’ Garage: 2020 Ford Fusion

View the Ford Fusion this week.

By Eric Peters

Ford only sells one sedan — the 2020 Fusion — and this may be your last chance to buy one. It’s going to be replaced by a crossover SUV called the Fusion Active, perhaps as soon as the 2021 model year.

Since that’s only about three months from now, you might want to have a look at this sedan — while you still can.

What It Is

The Fusion is a midsize family sedan similar to a dwindling number of others in the segment, including the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

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Their ranks are dwindling because their sales have been falling off as sales of crossover SUVs have taken off. People have been buying more crossovers, chiefly because they give more room for the dollar and because they’re more versatile, primarily because the layout is defined by a cargo area that isn’t separated from the passenger area by a sheet of steel with a tiny “pass through” to a separate trunk, as in a sedan.

But the Fusion still has a few crossover-ish things going for it, such as being available with all-wheel drive, which most of the others in the segment don’t offer. It is also available with your pick of not just one or two but three different engines — something very few crossovers offer.

Prices start at $23,170 for the S trim, which comes standard with a 2.5-liter engine and front-wheel drive.

The $24,500-to-start SE also comes standard with front-wheel drive, but you get upgraded to a smaller — and stronger — 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. You can also opt for an even stronger 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive, which bumps the price up to $27,885.

A top-of-the-line Titanium comes standard with the 2.0-liter engine and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive can be added, bumping the sticker to $36,450.

What’s New

The Fusion’s formerly available fourth engine — the V-6 you used to be able to get — you no longer can.

What’s Good

It’s an option for the buyer who doesn’t want to own a crossover.

There’s an all-wheel-drive option — like most crossovers offer.

It has exceptional driver/front-seat-passenger legroom (44.3 inches).

What’s Not So Good

The declining popularity of sedans likely means a lower resale/trade-in value when the time comes to swap.

The trunk won’t take as much cargo as a crossover of the same overall size.

The V-6 has been pulled from the lineup.

Under the Hood

The last of the Fusions is a four-cylinder-only deal, but you do get your pick of three different fours.

The standard 2.5-liter four isn’t turbocharged, which conservative buyers may like because this option eliminates any chance of having to spend money on a new turbo at some point down the road. It makes 173 horsepower and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The next-up 1.5-liter engine is turbocharged but only makes a little more power (181 horsepower) than the 2.5-liter engine. It’s also only sold with front-wheel drive.

If you want more horsepower, the 2.0-liter engine, also turbocharged, cuts the mustard. It makes 240 horsepower, and you can channel that through the front wheels or all four as you prefer.

There is not much gas-mileage difference between these combinations. The standard 2.5-liter engine with front-wheel drive rates 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway; the 1.5-liter engine ups this slightly to 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway. The strongest-of-the-bunch 2.0-liter four rates the same 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway as the base 2.5-liter four — and a bit less (20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway) in all-wheel-drive configuration.

On the Road

The big difference is acceleration, depending on the engine.

It’s also a surprising difference.

You’d assume the least-quick Fusion would be the one with the standard engine. In fact, the 2.5-liter equipped Fusion is slightly quicker to 60 mph than the Fusion equipped with the step-up 1.5-liter engine. The base car can get to 60 mph in just under 9 seconds, while the 1.5-liter engine gets there in just over 9. Both times are on the sluggish side for the class, but the real problem — for the optional 1.5-liter engine — is that there’s little if any fuel efficiency payoff.

Regardless of what’s powering the Fusion you end up with, you’ll see it does one thing a crossover can’t — which is handle like a car. Being lower to the ground — and not as tall — is an inherent advantage stability-wise, even if the modest ground clearance (6.4 inches) is something of a disadvantage in the snow (even if you opt for the available all-wheel drive).

At the Curb

The Fusion is a midsize car in terms of its length — 191.8 inches bumper to bumper — but it boasts a first row that’s got several inches more legroom for the driver and front-seat passenger (44.1 inches) than a six-figure and full-size Mercedes S-Class (41.4 inches), BMW 7 Series (41.4 inches) or Lexus LS 500 (41 inches).

It’s also got 38.3 inches of rear-seat legroom, though this is a bit less than the roomiest (in the price range) Honda Accord, which has 40.4 inches of legroom back there as well as the largest in class (16.7 cubic foot) trunk.

The Rest

Odds are you’ll be able to score a very good deal on the last of Ford’s sedans — as Ford dealers make way for the Fusion’s replacement. But you may not get a good deal when it comes time to trade in your sedan, if the market hasn’t changed its mind about sedans by then.

The Bottom Line

Sedans are disappearing almost as fast as the warm weather. The sun will return, but it’s setting — perhaps forever — on the American family sedan.

View the Ford Fusion this week.

Eric’s new book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

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