With a biturbocharged 2.7-liter V6, 325 horsepower, 380 pound-feet of torque, and standard all-wheel drive, the Ford Fusion Sport is not your typical family sedan.
But while its stats suggest performance it toes the line between being a family sedan and a proper sports sedan, with straight-line performance that outshines its competitors like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Mazda6 and a price tag that pushes it to compete with the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
But the Fusion Sport just falls short of being the best of both worlds.
You can slip into a Ford Fusion for as little as $22,215. That's a great entry-level price. Opting for the Fusion Sport adds, though, requires at least $33,750 – and our tester nearly doubled the base price at $41,230 with added options (including destination).
The $2,000 Equipment Group 401A package, which includes the Sport Upgrade Package adds LCDs in the instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, the Sync 3 infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, ambient lighting, and a 10-way power passenger seat.
The Driver Assist Package – lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with cross traffic alert, heated steering wheel, auto high beams, and rain-sensing wipers – is an additional $1,625. However, it requires the $2,000 Equipment Group 401A pack, which makes its true cost $3,625. Ford lists adaptive cruise control as a $1,190 option. But again, it requires both the $2,000 Equipment Group 401A pack and the $1,625 Driver Assist Package, making ACC a $4,815 option.
Spending $33,750 for a base Fusion Sport, and not getting even a few of these features as standard is a hard pill to swallow.
Most of the Fusion's nearest competitors are down on power, in most cases offering just one turbo and four cylinders with compared to the twin-turbocharged, V6-powered Ford.
The most powerful Honda Accord Sport – with the Civic Type R-derived 2.0-liter – has a starting price of $30,310, which includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Honda Sensing, the automaker's suite of safety features, which the Fusion can't match – standard safety equipment includes collision mitigation braking, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, and traffic sign recognition. And as it's a Honda, the price you see is the price you get – there are no optional extras to choose from.
The 2018 Mazda6 Grand Touring Reserve starts at $31,700 while the V6 2018 Toyota Camry XLE starts at $34,550. The Camry comes with a host of safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and Toyota Safety Sense P.
There are only so many ways to slice a sedan, and the Fusion's swoopy design is feeling a tad dated, even though it's still broadly attractive. Introduced in 2013 and refreshed for the 2017 model year, the Fusion feels too familiar, especially sitting next to competitors like the new 2018 Toyota Camry or 2018 Honda Accord.
Nineteen-inch wheels, a revised grille treatment, and quad exhausts are the most significant signs this Fusion is hotter than average. Otherwise, subdued exterior styling and oddly bulbous from certain angles that distract from the sleek design.
But despite the Sport-specific updates, this is still your standard Fusion sedan. It blends in, and maybe that's what customers want. But when you're spending more than $30,000 on a sporty four-door car, you have certain expectations.
Inside, the Fusion Sport is sleek, with plenty of cubbies for phones and wallets. The infotainment screen is large, at eight inches, and we dig the physical audio and HVAC controls underneath it. The shift dial is prominent on the center console and has a satisfying action, while the pleasantly bolstered seats have plenty of legroom for front passengers.
The back seats are spacious for a trio of children or two adults, although headroom is tight for taller passengers, thanks to the plunging roofline. The only hint this Fusion is different than your standard four-door is the “Sport” embroidered floor mats, aluminum sport pedals, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and leather/ suede upholstery
The cargo hold is disappointing, even though its 16 cubic feet of space is substantial. Getting my daughter's car seat in the trunk (don't worry, she wasn't in it) was a delicate process, owing to the small aperture. For comparison, it's easier getting her car seat in the trunk of my 2013 Ford Mustang.
Sync 3, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are all available on the Fusion Sport, but at a premium. Apple CarPlay worked flawlessly through the USB connection, though.
Speaking of Sync 3, it's a vast improvement over the previous iteration, offering smooth, fast operation. It looks quite pretty, too. While light color scheme is pleasant, we wish Ford offered a dark option, if only for a more modern aesthetic – Sync 3 feels a bit Windows 8 as is.
The 12-speaker Sony Premium Audio system sounded splendid, providing a rich sound that was easy to tune for both music and podcasts.
The Fusion Sport's biturbocharged 2.7-liter V6 produces 325 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque and is the main reason to consider this car. The power delivery is smooth even though the six-speed automatic transmission offers only relaxed shifts. Sport mode, which changes the shifts points to keep the engine higher in the rev range, doesn't help much either. It's the transmission lack of urgency that's the biggest roadblock to fun in the Fusion Sport.
Smash the accelerator from a stop and the all-wheel-drive system quells any drama from the normally front-drive Fusion. There's no wheel spin or torque steer.
The Fusion feels fast, but looking down at the speedometer shows the Sport is just quick. Ford hasn't released official performance numbers, but a sprint to 60 miles per hour from a standstill happens in the low five-second range. The engine noise and sense of acceleration are much more exciting than what the speedometer reads, though.
Ford markets the Fusion Sport as a sporty sedan, but at the end of the day, this is still a family car. The continuously controlled dampers help keep the Fusion in check when hustling, but you can feel how heavy the 3,982-pound car is when you toss it about, particularly when approaching its low limit.
You can pack the Fusion Sport with a host of safety technologies, but almost all of them require extra money. The standard Fusion Sport comes with almost no active safety gear. Lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with cross traffic alert, and automatic high beams run an additional $1,625, as part of the Driver Assist Package, but since there's a $2,000 prerequisite package (which includes rear parking sensors), the real-world cost for these features is $3,625.
It's even worse if you want adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Those items add $1,190 on the surface, but require both the Driver Assist Package and its prerequisite package.
The Fusion Sport's 2.7-liter V6 engine drinks like a V8 and has the EPA figures to prove it. The Fusion Sport returns an estiamted 17 miles per gallon city, 26 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined, although it's worth noting that Ford's EcoBoost engines are notorious for underperforming their EPA numbers in real-world driving. Thankfully, it takes regular.
For comparison, the Honda Accord Sport and its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder returns 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined. And if you're interested in another V6, the Toyota Camry XSE manages to match the Honda's EPA ratings.
Gallery: 2018 Ford Fusion Sport: Review
2018 Ford Fusion Sport