More than five years after its introduction, the Ford Fusion remains one of the Blue Oval’s most popular models, but the end is in sight for the current car. Ford is hard at work on the next generation of its mid-size sedan, which will finally ditch its antiquated Mazda-based platform and ride on bones shared with its European counterpart, the Mondeo.
Captured here as a development mule wearing much of a current Mondeo body, the second-generation Fusion will arrive next year as a 2013 model. Like the new 2012 Focus and next-gen Escape, the Fusion will adopt Ford’s Kinetic global design language, which the Mondeo has worn since 2007. Just how much the 2013 model will evolve from the current Mondeo’s appearance remains to be seen, however, as heavy camouflage on this mule covers everything that isn’t a current-gen part, and even much of what is under the wrap looks to be largely current-production.
We are more confident discussing what Ford didn’t have to disguise: powertrains. Ford will likely offer the 2013 Fusion with at least one naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine making around 170 or so hp. A powerful V-6 like the one available in the current car isn’t likely, as a turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder should take over as the top mill. The turbo 2.0-liter will make 247 hp in the upcoming Focus ST, and would do quite well as the uplevel engine in the Fusion. The hybrid will definitely return, and we expect to see its combined fuel-economy rating squeak past the 40-mpg mark. (The current hybrid’s combined figure is 39 mpg.)
Our hope is that at least one of these engines will come with a traditional manual transmission (the European Mondeo certainly will offer the option), but six-speed automatics and dual-clutch trannies will do the shifting for the majority of American Fusions. More significant, perhaps, the Fusion will receive a fair amount of Euro-flavored chassis tuning to match its European styling. That bodes well for the Fusion: The more European Ford’s U.S.-market products feel, the more warmly they tend to be received—we just crowned the Focus champion of a hard-fought five-car comparison test. If the next Fusion is anything like its little brother, Ford won’t have any trouble maintaining the car’s sales momentum.
Thanks to: Car and Driver