A smart move to stay on the best­seller lists

The Washington Post Sunday - - CARS - War­ren Brown war­ren.brown@wash­post.com

Cars be­come pop­u­lar when their de­sign­ers think about ev­ery­body, par­tic­u­larly when they el­e­vate the idea of “fam­ily sedan” to the rank of au­to­mo­tive pri­macy.

Thus, we have best­sellers such as the Toy­ota Camry, Honda Ac­cord and Chevro­let Cruze — and the sub­ject of this week’s col­umn, the 2017 Ford Fu­sion V-6 Sport.

The mid­size, all-wheel-drive V-6 Sport, mostly new for the new model year, is Ford’s ef­fort to keep the Fu­sion in the “best-sell­ing” class. It is a task as tricky as pol­i­tics. Con­sumers, like vot­ers, are fickle.

They were hot for the Fu­sion in 2013, its in­tro­duc­tory year, largely smit­ten by Ford’s usurpa­tion of the As­ton-Martin grille. It wasn’t an out­right theft by Ford, which once owned the British com­pany and felt that it had the right to use the grille as part of the price of for­mer own­er­ship.

Any­way, it worked. The early Fu­sion — hmm, “Fu­sion,” Ford-As­ton-Martin — was one of the snazz­i­est mid­size sedans in the U.S. car mar­ket. Peo­ple loved it, and they were es­pe­cially grate­ful in 2013 that it came with a fuel-ef­fi­cient, rea­son­ably pow­er­ful 2.0-liter gaso­line, four-cylin­der en­gine (160 horse­power, 146 pound-feet of torque). That car, with its four­cylin­der en­gine and six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, got 27 miles per gal­lon in the city and 39 miles per gal­lon on the high­way — pretty good for an au­to­mo­bile that looked and felt Euro­pean but had a sell­ing price and op­er­at­ing cost many Amer­i­cans could af­ford.

The standard 2.0-liter, and now a 2.5-liter, four-cylin­der gaso­line en­gine, are still avail­able for the many peo­ple who want them. Ford also of­fers the Fu­sion hy­brid (the Fu­sion En­ergi) and the 1.5-liter EcoBoost en­gine with auto start-stop.

But times change. U.S. gaso­line prices have dropped sig­nif­i­cantly since 2013. Peo­ple still want fuel econ­omy. But they now want more oomph be­hind their As­ton-Martin grilles. En­ter the 2017 Fu­sion V-6 Sport with even sleeker all-around ex­te­rior styling and a lot more power from its twin-tur­bocharged, 2.7-liter gaso­line V-6 (325 horse­power, 380 pound-feet of torque).

Fuel ef­fi­ciency has dropped a bit (17 miles per gal­lon city, 26 miles per gal­lon high­way). But that isn’t bad con­sid­er­ing that the V-6 Sport comes standard with all-wheel-drive, which is es­pe­cially use­ful and con­fi­den­cein­spir­ing in in­clement weather.

I like this car — drove it ev­ery­where in all kinds of weather. I also like the ad­di­tional oomph pro­vided by the tur­bocharged (forced air) V-6.

De­spite its slightly weight­ier, more pow­er­ful en­gine, the V-6 Sport still feels light, tight and easy to man­age on the road; over­all it is en­joy­able to drive. I stayed on the high­way in this one and am con­vinced that Ford’s devel­op­ment and in­tro­duc­tion of this model was a smart plan to keep the words “best-sell­ing” in the Fu­sion’s de­scrip­tion.

Nice car, Ford. Nice move.

The V-6 Sport feels light, tight and easy to man­age on the road.

DMITRIY SHKOLNIK/FORD

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