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First Drive: Ford Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid |

NEW YORK CITY—The New York International Auto Show is a one-stop-shop under the roof of the cavernous Javits Center, but it’s occasionally possible to get out onto the street. I ventured onto 10th Avenue for a chance to drive the brand-new Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid—the companion car to the C-Max Energi, which has an almost identical drivetrain.

Making a Lifestyle Choice

Ford’s Sam Hoyt told me that Fusion vs. C-Max is a “lifestyle choice,” meaning if you want sedan styling cues and worry that the C-Max is too much of a “station wagon,” you’ll buy the slightly larger Fusion. The C-Max is cheaper ($29,995) but the Fusion comes with more standard features.

Hoyt said that only 200 of the Fusions have been sold so far, but 800 are in stock at dealerships around the country—you won’t find one in North Dakota, though. Some 900 of Ford’s dealers have signed on to be EV certified, but only 300 are now. “We aim to have at least one dealer in every state,” Hoyt said. Predictably, the Fusion is selling best in California, but Hoyt said it’s also doing well in what she called the “breadbasket states” of the Midwest.

The Ford Fusion Energi: lots of luggage space, thanks to a smaller battery. (Jim Motavalli photo)
Energi vs. Volt

Why should you buy an Energi instead of a Chevy Volt, which is about the same price ($39,495 for the Ford, though the federal income tax credit is $3,750 instead of $7,500)? Ford is boasting that it offers five-passenger seating instead of the Volt’s four. An Energi selling point for me is a nicer interior—I’ve always found the Volt’s skimpy back seat and unfinished-looking trunk area unimpressive.

Another plus in the Fusion’s column is that the gas engine recharges the battery as you drive—though not to a full charge. The Volt doesn’t do this, with Chevy engineers explaining that it’s more efficient to recharge the battery from wall power.



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