The Model A was Ford’s first sedan. The Fusion will be Ford’s last. Is the automotive giant right to drop passenger cars?
After 92 years, Ford is getting out of the sedan business. The Taurus’ production ended last year, and the Fusion is likewise slated for permanent retirement in 2021. Ford says it needs to reallocate resources to EV and autonomous R&D, and besides, Americans want trucks and SUVs, the sedan just doesn’t inspire customers anymore. And while both of these things are true, new and vital tech R&D is expensive and sedans have steadily been waning in popularity for decades now, we still question the wisdom of killing off the Fusion.
2020 Ford Fusion – ford.com | Shop 2020 Ford Fusion on Carsforsale.com
But we wanted to make the case that Ford’s ceding the sedan battleground to the likes of Toyota and Honda is wrongheaded, short-sighted, and deeply misguided. Indeed, the Fusion’s sales numbers slumped recently from over 300,000 in 2014 and 2015 down to 173,000 in 2019 (for context, the Camry moved 336,000 units in 2019). But that’s not because the Fusion was a poor product, quite the opposite in fact.
With so many decades of trial and error, Ford had refined their final sedan into a genuinely good car. The Fusion offered three powertrain options (in keeping up with the Camrys and Accords of the world), two EcoBoost engines, a 1.5 and a 2.0-liter, plus a 2.5L Duratec I-4 engine for traditional ICEs, a 188hp hybrid option, and a plug-in hybrid good for 26 miles of full electric range.
The Fusion was also an excellent driver’s car. The smooth handling and responsive steering made it a work-a-day pleasure to tool around in. The cabin was spacious and the seating comfortable enough for extended road trips. The SYNC-3 infotainment system was mercifully straightforward to navigate and supported both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The overall design both inside and out was stylish and well executed.
Suffice to say, the Ford Fusion was about as good an American made sedans get.
…and what do we get in exchange for the Fusion? The EcoSport?! Whoa, don’t spill your Slurpee. The Fusion sedan may be gone, but the Fusion name will live on. A new lifted wagon will be making its first appearance in 2021 and it will be carrying the Fusion nameplate. It looks like this Outback-style offering will actually be the lifted wagon version of Europe’s Ford Mondeo. But currently, information is scant on possible powertrains and features.
And that’s not all, Ford is giving us another consolation prize in the form of a uni-body light truck (think first-gen Rangers) that will slot in at the bottom of Ford’s pricing structure, somewhere right under $20,000. Likely this will closely resemble the Ford Courier, Ford’s light truck offering in Latin America (discontinued in 2013). Reportedly, Ford applied for a trademark on the Courier name last year.
So, not all is doom and gloom. In fact, I love wagons and tiny trucks to an inordinate and perhaps unhealthy degree. Give me a Toyota Hilux or Volvo 240 over an F-150 any day (unless, of course, on that day I have to tow anything of substantial size).
As cool as these new vehicles might be, I can’t help but pour one out for the Fusion sedan. In the study of history, car history included, hindsight is often a necessary ingredient to identifying the transition from one era to the next. This feels like pivot point to me. The remains of the Fusion will now mark a key transition in the automotive fossil record, and its extinction will puzzle and vex future auto-paleontologists.