When more of the same is a very good thing

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

If you buy the 2017 Ford Fu­sion Hy­brid, you also are buy­ing the 2018 model. They are un­changed year to year.

That is not a bad thing. It also is not un­ex­pected.

So much has been done on the 2017 Ford Fu­sion Hy­brid, one of the most tech­ni­cally ad­vanced com­pact fam­ily sedans avail­able, that it is dif­fi­cult to see how much more could have been done on the 2018 model to make the dif­fer­ence rel­e­vant.

I sus­pect the next ma­jor changes will be in 2019 or 2020. At any rate, what we have for 2017 is an ex­cel­lent au­to­mo­bile — that is, ex­cel­lent in terms of over­all com­fort, safety, and ex­te­rior and in­te­rior beauty.

The 2017 Ford Fu­sion Hy­brid drives and han­dles rea­son­ably well, too. It is no one’s speed­ster or race­track-curve han­dler. Nor was it de­signed or en­gi­neered to be; nor are most ve­hi­cles de­signed or en­gi­neered for stop-to-go hell-rais­ing in the daily man­ner driven by most of us.

Most cars and trucks in this coun­try are de­signed and built for use within ex­ist­ing traf­fic laws and reg­u­la­tions. The current and fu­ture em­pha­sis of most cars and trucks com­ing to U.S. and for­eign roads is and will be safety — ve­hi­cles de­signed and en­gi­neered to au­to­mat­i­cally re­duce in­ju­ri­ous or fa­tal crashes.

That ul­ti­mately will mean au­tonomously driven ve­hi­cles work­ing in tan­dem with new tech­ni­cally ad­vanced roads and other traf­fic in­fra­struc­ture. Those de­vel­op­ments will take a while, at least two decades for mass use and ap­pli­ca­tion.

In the in­terim, there will be cars such as the Ford Fu­sion Hy­brid mov­ing us closer to the day when au­ton­o­mous mo­tor­ing will be a re­al­ity.

Look at this car, par­tic­u­larly the Pre­mium trim ver­sion driven for this col­umn. It is equipped with all of the ad­vanced elec­tronic safety and com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment that soon will be sold as standard equip­ment on most au­to­mo­biles in the United States and else­where in the de­vel­oped world.

Even­tu­ally, these cars will be able to com­mu­ni­cate with other cars and trucks . . . and with pub­licly placed transpon­ders along streets and high­ways.

This is where we are go­ing. The 2017 Fu­sion Hy­brid is a big step in that di­rec­tion.

Equipped with a two-liter, in­line four-cylin­der gaso­line en­gine work­ing in tan­dem with bat­tery-pow­ered mo­tors, the Fu­sion Hy­brid de­liv­ers 188 horse­power and 129 pound-feet of torque. The gas-elec­tric hy­brid ar­range­ment yields a com­bined 42 miles per gal­lon in city-high­way fuel econ­omy, about six miles per gal­lon less than that of com­pa­ra­ble com­pact gas-elec­tric cars. But the Fu­sion seems to come with more weight, es­pe­cially in the su­per-tufted Pre­mium trim model, which de­tracts from fuel efficiency.

Also, the Fu­sion Hy­brid of­fers more in­te­rior space for pas­sen­gers and cargo than com­pa­ra­ble hy­brids. But the main thing, to me, is the pro­lif­er­a­tion of ad­vanced elec­tronic safety mea­sures and other items, in­clud­ing park­ing as­sis­tance and lane­keep­ing mon­i­tor­ing, avail­able on the Fu­sion Hy­brid/Plat­inum.

I like this car. I es­pe­cially like Ford Mo­tor’s pas­sion­ate pur­suit of fu­ture au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy.

What we have is an ex­cel­lent au­to­mo­bile in terms of over­all com­fort, safety, and ex­te­rior and in­te­rior beauty.

FORD

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