2011 Ford Fusion Review

Front 3/4 view of red 2011 Ford Fusion

These have to be sweet days for Ford. Not only did they spare themselves the bankruptcies GM and Chrysler went through (by mortgaging the famous Blue Oval logo), they're making and selling cars.

That probably sounds like a no-brainer...I mean, Ford's a car company, right? But the fact is that Ford and the other domestics spent most of the last two decades selling trucks and SUVs. Sure, they made cars, but they weren't the company's prime focus (way more profit in the trucks and SUVs) and consumers had long since put Toyota and Honda on the top of their family sedan shopping lists.

Well, that's all changing...and three weeks (yep, an extended test) in a Ford Fusion SE (courtesy Bell Ford in Phoenix, Arizona) goes a long way toward explaining why.

We've said it before, we'll say it again: Want to know how good a car is? Get as close to the base model as possible. In this case, the tester was one level up...the four-cylinder SE. A base price of $22,830 buys a six-speed automatic transmission, 8-way power driver's seat, an AM/FM/SiriusXM Satellite Radio with CD, mp3 capability and six speakers, automatic headlamps, foglamps, floormats and 17" alloy wheels.

Interior view of 2011 Ford Fusion

Loaded?  No. Nicely equipped? Absolutely.  Cloth seats breathe nicely in the summertime, so the lack of leather was actually a plus. And the interior design...the placement of all the controls...is so intuitive, so logical, that the Fusion went from a pleasant ride in its first few days to being an extension of the driver as the days and weeks went on.

As an automotive journalist used to a week at a time, multiplying the test window could expose serious flaws or at least niggling shortcomings, but not with the Fusion. It held up. I could see living with this car for the length of a 5-year car loan. Especially when you consider that the bottom line of this one is right at about $23,500 with delivery charges.

EPA estimates: 23 city/33 highway. Camry and Accord are still strong choices, but they can no longer take for granted that it's all theirs.

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