Ford and family sedans go together like ham and cheese. From LTD to Taurus, the folks in Dearborn have delivered some of America’s favorite family 4-doors. And now they have a new one for 2006. The mid-size Fusion surrounds some of the best in global car design with American heritage looks. Let’s find out if the recipe works!

The 2006 Ford Fusion is a significant departure from recent Ford family sedans. It not only looks different, it drives different, thanks for a design infusion from around Ford’s far flung global empire.

Slotted between the compact Focus and Ford’s flagship Five-Hundred sedan, the Fusion tackles the fiercely competitive mid-size class against Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and the Mazda6 on which it is based.

That competent front-wheel-drive platform was stretched 2.1 inches to a wheelbase of 107.4 inches. That’s a little shorter than the Taurus it will eventually replace, but longer than most import-badged rivals. Other dimensions are equally solid at 190.2 inches long and 55.8 inches tall. Its 72.2 inch width also gives it a wider track than typical for its class.

To that stable platform the Fusion designers fitted bold styling taken from Ford’s very well received, and somewhat retro, 427 concept. Though less straight edged, direct transitions from the 427 to Fusion include the aggressively slatted chrome grille, and multi-element projector beam headlamps.

The Fusion’s lines are also more sculpted and its body leaner. With an also wide stance, broad shoulders and dual tail pipes around back, the Fusion’s sporty physique easily stands out among other mid-sizers.

The Fusion is available in base S, mid-level SE, and top-of-the-line SEL trim. All models come standard with Mazda’s 2.3 liter, dual-overhead cam in-line 4 that delivers a healthy 160 horsepower and 150 pound feet of torque.

But to quicken the pace, trade up to their well-seasoned twin-cam 3.0 liter V6. Optional on the SE and SEL, it delivers 221 horsepower and 205 pound feet of torque. Transmission choices are either a 5-speed manual or optional 5-speed automatic for the 4, with a rare for its class 6-speed automatic standard with the V-6.

We got our first chance to drive the new Fusion on the Smokey Mountain highways surrounding the regal Biltmore Estate near Ashville, North Carolina. And, in a few words, we were impressed! Ride and handling delivered a near perfect balance between sport sedan and family cruiser, with hydraulic engine mounts keeping NVH low. Fusion is far more entertaining to drive than Camry or Accord. The 6-speed automatic’s reaction was very competent, shifting right in sync with constantly shifting inclines. The 4’s 5-speed manual allowed quick, positive shifts. It felt a lot like the MX-5.

Fusion’s complex front long-arm, rear multi-link independent suspension uses designs that are more Europe than Asia. Rebound springs in the front shocks do a great job of absorbing bump harshness. Good grip is provided by standard 16-inch rims wearing wide 60-series tires. 17’s with lower-profile 50-series tires are an option.  Other driving tools include well weighted steering, and 4-wheel disc brakes with available ABS and electronic brake force distribution.

Inside, the Fusion’s cabin is as broad and well thought out as the exterior. Soft-touch materials and attractive finishes give the Fusion a clean and elegant look with three different interior themes. Gauges are round and easy-to-read analog.

Seating is quite spacious for five with lots of shoulder room up front. Small item storage includes a dash top bin. Standards include tilt/telescoping wheel, air conditioning, AM/FM CD stereo, plus power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry. For occupant safety, Fusion is well outfitted with side impact and side curtain airbags optional on all trims.

Entry to the rear cabin is easy with adult size foot and leg room. Seating is by way of 60/40 spring-assisted fold-down seats with trunk pass through. To fill that trunk, you’ll need 15.8 cubic feet of stuff. Bigger than Accord, but just shy of the Sonata.

Fusion makes good use of fuel. EPA ratings for the I4 manual are 23 City and 31 Highway. The V-6 automatic comes in at 21 City and 29 Highway. Expect 25 in everyday driving.

And pricing is even more frugal. The Fusion S 4-cylinder manual stickers at just $17,995, while the top-shelf SEL V6 starts at $22,400. That’s over 4-grand less than Accord EX and about $1,000 less than the somewhat better equipped Hyundai Sonata LX.

For years the Ford Taurus was the best selling car in America. While that title is long gone, Ford clearly wants to stay in the game. With head-turning looks, way above average road manners, and a generous flexible interior, the 2006 Ford Fusion is a first class mid-size family sedan competitor, and a bargain at that.


  • Engines: 2.3-Liter Dual Overhead Cam In-line 4/twin-cam 3.0 Liter V6
  • Horsepower: 160/221
  • Torque: 150/205 Lb Feet
  • Fuel Economy: 23/21 City, 31/29 Highway