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Test Drive: Ford Fusion hybrid is more fun than Chevrolet Volt

(USA TODAY) — Ford added a plug-in hybrid to its Fusion midsize sedan lineup, and it really does go about 21 miles on the battery before you need the gasoline engine.

Chevrolet Volt plug-in goes 38 miles before the battery needs help, so Energi (Ford’s designation for plug-in hybrids) isn’t a record-setter. But it’s roomier and more comfortable than Volt, and more fun to drive.

And it has Fusion’s dramatic styling, which many (including Test Drive) think looks terrific.

Fusion Energi has two missions: to be a good car and to cut fuel use and the attendant costs. Before we comb through those, let’s be sure we’re all on the same page:

A hybrid has a gasoline engine and an electric motor, tied together via the transmission. That saves fuel because the gas engine runs less often, letting the electric do some of the work of propelling the car. There’s no plug-in feature. The batteries for the electric motor are recharged when the car slows and stops (called regenerative braking) and by the gas engine running a generator, as needed. A hybrid can’t go far on battery-power only – a mile, maybe three – because the battery pack isn’t big.


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