If you believe all of the signs that are appearing, all of the words that auto journalists are spilling out, the manufacturers that have lost faith, and so on and so forth, we are seeing the end of the car. Well, that might be stretching it a touch: we are seeing the end of the basic, useable car, the one that isn’t some dramatic special edition, isn’t steeped in heritage, or doesn’t have a legitimate army of fans following along with their wallets in hand. The basic, good car is going away, however. It’s disappearing over the horizon as a horde of over-inflated sport utilities, crossover utilities, pickup trucks, and the promise of never having to endure the hell of driving yourself ever again start to become less of a warning and more of a reality. I, for one, do not welcome this new wave. There are pickup trucks that cost more than my f**king house on the market right now. To replicate the Angry Grandpa Chrysler with it’s much newer form would cost me about forty grand, would probably require me to order the car, and would probably have me enduring some salesman’s pitch about the Dodge Charger. Ford is considering a “Mustang-themed” electric sport-utility for the future.
In fact, let’s focus on Ford for a minute. While they weren’t the first to walk away from cars (excepting the Charger and 300, FCA is just about out of the game themselves), Ford is the one that made the big announcement first: No more cars after 2020 except Mustang. Originally there was supposed to be a Focus variant that looked like Ford copied Subaru’s homework from twenty years ago but it died when the word “tariff” started hitting the nightly news every ten minutes. Everything else, from the fuel-sipper Fiesta to the long-in-the-tooth Taurus, is getting the ax. I won’t miss the Taurus, and I feel that Ford is shooting themselves in the foot by getting rid of the Fiesta and Focus with fuel prices always ready to make that climb back up to four or five bucks a gallon.
Now, the Fusion. The current version has been around since 2013, got it’s last facelift in 2017, and is going to get one more next year before it’s killed…or potentially turned into a knock-off of the Buick Regal TourX, a station wagon that isn’t, because marketing types automatically vomit at the thought of the word “wagon”. I’ve always thought the Fusion was just a Damn Good Car, nothing too special but well worth the cost. I first drove a 2009 Fusion Hybrid during my last few months in the Army, when I got one to be my personal TMP car, and I loved it. Everything I needed, never left me wanting anything except to get rid of the stupid “growing plant” gauge on the dash that told me how well I was behaving behind the wheel. I’ve recommended the Fusion every time I’m asked about a car, without question. And thanks to Scott at Hunt Chrysler Center in Franklin, Kentucky, I’d get a shot behind the wheel of one of the latest Fusions, a Sport.
Here’s everything you should want or need to know about a car like this: 325 horsepower, 380 ft/lbs of torque, all wheel drive, and the tarted-up blackout treatment turn the Fusion into the sporty family sedan by looks alone. A little tweaking of the seat and steering wheel and my tall by large frame fit in beautifully. Around town it’s quiet and solid, moving right along with no drama or theatre. Hit the “S” mode on the shifter and nail the throttle and you’ll be pinned down as the four wheels dig in. Shift yourself with paddles or leave it in Drive, it doesn’t really matter…the twin-turbocharged and intercooled V6 will move you in a way that will leave you stunned that 164 cubic inches could be so capable. The ride is surprisingly good, partially due to what Ford calls Continuously Controlled Damping, the system that keeps the rolling stock from dropping down into potholes. I highly doubt that the sound I heard in the cabin was legit, but whoever picked that note found the perfect lower register for a V6. This one is a used trade-in that had 18,xxx miles on the clock, and I was cut loose for my own devices in the car.
Instead of one of my more typical used-car reviews, I went for a drive and tried to sort out why a sport-ute is better than this sedan. I’ve got a pretty decent comparison in my head going, between this Fusion Sport and the Ford Edge Sport I drove back in 2015. Outside of hauling larger items in the back compartment, I have no reason in my mind why I would choose the Edge over the Fusion. Absolutely none. In fact, driving the Fusion brought back memories of the last V6 vehicle I owned, a 2001 Buick Regal GS. Both are sporty four-doors, both are decently quick, both treated the interior occupants quite nicely, and both had stereo systems that could raise the dead. The only difference between the two? Hard-launch the Fusion in boost and the car digs in HARD with all four. Hard-launch the Regal in boost and the front tires are going up in puff of smoke that can trail out for a few hundred feet if you did it right. I beat on this car, and I drove it like a sane individual. I enjoyed it either way. At no point in time was I concerned about whether or not I could fit that large package from Big Box Mart in the back. I didn’t care. I could haul three friends with me comfortably and enjoy the destination the whole way. I didn’t need to pack two families into three rows, with each seat serving up individual headset ports and screens.
If Ford is truly sincere about culling the car as we know it, if they are abandoning sedans to anyone else, then let the Fusion Sport go down as a fond memory. The regular Fusion was a damn good car. The Fusion Sport is a proper sleeper, a de-badging away from hiding in plain sight, a car that even your spouse shouldn’t suspect if you know how to keep your foot out of it. It’ll do everything but haul a pig to market or an 80″ television home with the hatch shut. And it’ll be yet another victim in the urgent need for anything to be everything to everyone, the car that didn’t need to be a monster or an ultra-luxury, six-figure machine to survive.