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Tech and Green: 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid

The 2011 Ford Fusion is impressive, and even more so with a Hybrid option. With all the bells and whistles on board, you have a nicely packaged mid-sized sedan, with some impressive safety features and comfortable seating, writes automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Without a doubt, Ford’s Fusion is on a roll. It became the No. 1 selling domestic car in 2009, got the coveted “Motor Trend Car of the Year” designation for 2010, and adds even more safety, technology and convenience features for 2011.

These features include the programmable MyKey, available rain-sensing wipers, HD radio, and integrated blind-spot mirrors on cars that don’t have that cool – but optional – safety feature called BLIST (more later).

And, if you’ve been considering a hybrid car, the Ford Fusion has one, along with three fuel-efficient gas engines options this year: a 2.5-liter, a 3.0-liter V-6 with flex-fuel capability, and a 3.5-liter V-6 Duratec for those who crave performance.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid can blend both a gasoline engine and an electric-battery motor, efficiently alternating between both, depending on your driving circumstances. If the car is operated in pure electric mode, it can reach a speed of up to 47 miles per hour. Ford even claims that in city driving, the Fusion will tally as many as 700 miles on one tank of gas.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid has an interesting instrument cluster designed specifically to help drivers gain even more efficiency out of their driving. With SmartGauge with EcoGauge, high-resolution LCD screens on either side of the speedometer can be customized to show different levels of information, such as fuel and battery power levels, or average and instant miles per gallon. When the car is being driven efficiently, “leaves” and “vines” grow on the screen.

The 2011 models have a sporty exterior design with improved aerodynamics. The interior has contemporary-looking metallic finishes on the instrument panel as well as on the center console, doors and steering wheel, and is now back-lit with a icy blue color. Gauges have daytime backlighting, a black lens and a 3-D look.

(Above): Interior view of the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Seat contours provide more side support. Our test car came with black leather seating that was enhanced by white contrast stitching.

Safety features include Ford’s BLIST (Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert). Using sensors located in the rear quarter panels, this system lets you know if there is traffic or obstacles behind you – within a 65-foot range – as you pull out of parking spaces. The radar sounds a warning that gets more intense as the obstacle nears. The side view mirrors are also equipped with indicator lights that activate when a car traveling in the lane next to you enters your blind spot. Both of these sensors certainly ramp up your sense of security, whether you’re in a parking lot or on the freeway.

The 2011 Ford Fusion also has Voice-Activated Navigation, which rolls several technologies into quite a package. It includes voice-activated destination, climate control and SIRIUS satellite radio into one system, and displays them on an eight-inch touch screen display. The system calls out street names and even incoming text messages when the system is linked to SYNC. SYNC is a hands-free in-car communications and entertainment system that fully integrates Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital media players for hands-free operation. Anything to reduce distracted driving is a double bonus.

(Above): The innovative instrument panel of the 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Behind the wheel, there is that smartly designed and contemporary-looking dashboard. The seats are very comfortable, especially in the rear outboard positions, with plenty of leg and headroom.

For the driver and front passengers, visibility is slightly reduced because of wide A-pillars.

On the road, you’ll find the Hybrid version offers all the performance of a regular gas engine, and is quietly powerful.

Overall, the 2011 Ford Fusion is impressive, and even more so with a Hybrid option. With all the bells and whistles on board, you have a nicely packaged mid-sized sedan, with some impressive safety features and comfortable seating.

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.


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