A little longer overall than before, the Fusion has a much longer wheelbase, and it shows in better leg room, in any seating position. The seats themselves are thinner and firmer, just as in the 2013 Ford Escape, but we wouldn't mind sitting in them for hours, though we'd tilt the bottom cushion down in front on manual seats a bit more. Headroom's great without the optional sunroof, an unknown so far with one--Ford didn't make any glass-roofed vehicles available for testing. The trunk is 16 cubic feet, big for the class, and the Fusion has ample storage all around the cabin, with a stow space under the center stack, bottle holders in the doors, and a decently sized glovebox. The impression of quality is pretty high, especially with regard to noise damping and vibration quelling; the Fusion's doors close with the soft thump you feel more than you hear. Safety features include front knee airbags and standard Bluetooth, but no crash-test scores are yet available. The Fusion comes with climate and cruise control; the usual power features; a CD player and an auxiliary jack; cloth seats; tilt/telescoping steering; and steering-wheel audio and phone controls. At a base price of $22,495, it's a thousand dollars or more than its most value-oriented competition, a spread that grows wider when you're trying to match high-economy editions. The cheapest Nissan Altima with a 38-mpg highway rating is $21,500; the Fusion S gets 34 mpg highway, but to get to its best 37 mpg highway, you'll spend $25,290 for the smaller-displacement EcoBoost four. Power front seats, leather upholstery, a navigation system, and a rearview camera are options, as are all-wheel drive and a suite of safety features like lane-keeping assist and active park assist.
Fully loaded, the Fusion barely tucks its nose in under $40,000, but there's a significant sweet spot in its powertrains and features at just under $30,000, where you'll find a 1.6-liter EcoBoost automatic with navigation, blind-spot monitors, leather seats, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. At that price, the manual transmission's a no-cost option. We're just saying.
For more on the 47-mpg version of this new family sedan, see our review of the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid at thecarconnection.com.