Consumer Reports’ 2012 Top Car Picks served up American style

Following annual tradition, it’s time again for our American Top Picks list spotlighting the top-scoring domestic-branded models in Consumer Reports testing. An alternative compilation to our official 2012 Top Picks, here we show the buyer who favors buying an “American” car the many strong choices that have stood out in our tests.

Here are the rules: To qualify as a Top Pick, a car must rank at or near the top of its category in overall test score. Reliability must be average or better, based on problems reported by Consumer Reports subscribers in the latest Annual Auto Survey. And Top Picks must perform well (if tested) overall in government or industry crash and rollover tests.

It is clear that this competitive marketplace offers more impressive product than ever before. Though, as the auto industry becomes truly global, it can be difficult to discern what is truly an American car. In creating this list, we focused on the traditional domestic automakers: Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. Although these companies build many vehicles in other countries, many foreign-nameplate brands build here in America. For those who want a domestic car that’s assembled in the United States, note that the Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain twins are actually built in Ontario, Canada, and the Ford Fusion is built in Mexico.

Without further adieu, we present this year’s list of winners, shown alongside the official Top Picks. Note that the Chevrolet Avalanche and Ford Mustang appear on both lists.

Category American Top Picks 2012 Top Picks
Small car None qualify Subaru Impreza
Family sedan Ford Fusion Hybrid Toyota Camry Hybrid
Affordable family sedan Ford Fusion (4-cyl.) Hyundai Sonata
Sports sedan Cadillac CTS Infiniti G
Small SUV Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain Toyota RAV4
Family SUV Jeep Grand Cherokee Toyota Highlander
Family hauler Chevrolet Traverse Toyota Sienna
Pickup truck Chevrolet Avalanche Chevrolet Avalanche
Sporty car Ford Mustang Ford Mustang
Green Car Chevrolet Volt Toyota Prius

Small car: This is a frustrating one. The year has brought a lot of improvement in this segment for the domestics, but they each fall short of winning the prize. The Ford Focus is a nice car that is a joy to drive, but it hasn’t been reliable in its first year. Same goes for the Ford Fiesta. The Chevrolet Cruze is also unreliable. The Dodge Dart has potential, but we haven’t tested it yet. We don’t have reliability for the decent, new Chevrolet Sonic yet. So nothing qualifies here. Maybe next year.

Family sedan: With 34 mpg overall in our tests, the Ford Fusion Hybrid can’t touch the 38 mpg overall from the revised Toyota Camry Hybrid, or the Camry’s roomier rear seat. But Fusion is enjoyable to drive and has a quiet cabin. Reliability and owner satisfaction have been excellent.

Affordable family sedan: It’s starting to feel a bit old, but the four-cylinder Fusion is our highest scoring domestic entry-level family sedan. This category is in flux, with a new Chevrolet Malibu due out very shortly and a new Fusion coming this fall. Both cars promise to raise the bar for refinement and fuel economy. We’ll see.

Sports sedan: The Cadillac CTS might seem a bit benign given some of the choices out there. So to ward off the inevitable interweb comments: We haven’t bought and tested a Cadillac CTS-V, Chrysler 300 SRT8, Dodge Charger SRT8, or Ford Taurus SHO. Since we purchase all of our test cars, we focus on buying higher-volume models. (It would be fun to put together that group, though.) So that leaves us with the CTS-but this well-finished sedan delivers responsive steering, agile handling, and quick acceleration. The CTS claiming this category is more than a consolation prize.

Small SUV: Here, we have a quandary. The dated Ford Escape is approaching its final sales month; the new Escape looks like it should be a big step up. The uncompetitive Jeep Patriot and Compass cousins fall off the radar.

So that leaves us with GM. Its Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain SUVs are tweeners that split the segment-they’re a bit big for a small SUV. But lacking a better alternative, they’re this year’s pick. (Yes, they were last year’s American Top Pick for Family SUV. But now there’s a better alternative for that category.)

Family SUV: New to the list this year is the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Its redesign brought newly-found refinement, and the Jeep can tow a good-sized trailer or go off-road, too. Fuel economy is competitive, but we hope rumors of an eight-speed automatic mean that better efficiency is coming. (Same with plans for a diesel.) The Grand Cherokee is a much better choice than a V-6 Ford Edge, which scores too low in MyFord Touch-equipped form to be recommended–and it’s unreliable.

Family hauler: This pick would normally go to a minivan. They’re simply the most practical and convenient way to move your family and its stuff. But except for Chrysler, the domestics checked out of this segment. The revised Town & Country scores OK, but it has poor reliability, so we don’t recommend it.

Ford and GM want you to buy a large, car-based SUV instead. With the Ford Flex EcoBoost having below-average reliability, that makes the pick here the Chevrolet Traverse. (The similar GMC Acadia has below-average reliability in our survey.)

Pickup truck: Given that we’ve tested the full current crop of trucks, including the well-regarded Ford F-150 EcoBoost, the so-so selling Chevrolet Avalanche might seem an odd pick. But it rides better than all other rivals and is very quiet, plus the unique unified cab and bed enhance loading flexibility. You do pay for that niceness though; it’s definitely a vehicle for families rather than a contractor’s work truck.

Sporty car: A case could be made here for the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, a fabulous performance car that scores near the top of our Ratings. Reliability has improved a lot in the last few years too. But we want Top Picks to be more attainable, so the highly entertaining Ford Mustang is our choice.

Green car: The official pick for this category was the Toyota Prius, which outscores the Chevrolet Volt, mainly thanks to better practicality. It is also less expensive to buy and more efficient when running on gasoline. But if your commute allows you to stay within the Volt’s electric-only range, it can be less expensive to operate than a Prius. First year Volt reliability is excellent, as is owner satisfaction.

Once again, the exercise of compiling this list shows that not only are there many desirable domestic choices, but a lot of potential remains. The new Dart, Escape, Fusion, and Malibu are expected to swing for the fences. We look forward see how they do when we buy all of them to test in the coming year.

Introducing the New 2013 Ford Fusion

(Edited)  They finally got rid of the outdated centre console, obviously. But in my opinion it looks like a cross between a Mitsubishi, Sonata and the grille, an Austin Martin. And sorta like the 2013 Ford Taurus. So basically it looks like every other car. If I were a car designer I would make it stand out a lot. Nonetheless, I like it but I won’t be trading in my 2011 Fusion anytime soon, I will want to wait for Consumer Report reviews and other reviews. And since the 2013 model will be available in the Fall, it’s gonna be awhile for the reviews. But I would love to test drive it.

New Ford Fusion Brings More Technology, Expected Triple Crown of Best-in-Class Gas, Hybrid, Plug-In Efficiency








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• New Ford Fusion is the first sedan to offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, each with expected top fuel economy, underscoring Ford’s commitment to give customers the power of choice

• With seven must-have technologies, including a Lane Keeping System, adaptive cruise control, active park assist and MyFord Touch®, the all-new Ford Fusion shows how Ford is delivering features customers truly want and value

• Customers can choose from Fusion’s widest-ever portfolio of fuel-efficient powertrains including EcoBoost™, hybrid and plug-in hybrid engines; automatic and manual transmission offerings; and auto start stop technology

• Revealed in North America as the midsize Fusion sedan, this all-new car signals the next-generation Ford Mondeo for world markets

Soundbites: All-New Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion – Ford’s all-new Fusion brings alive the next generation of more expressive vehicles from Ford and is the first sedan to offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions – each expected to deliver top fuel economy and an engaging driving experience.

Featuring a sleek silhouette and fresh face, the all-new Fusion is the latest in a series of vehicles from Ford – following the 2011 Fiesta subcompact and 2012 Focus small cars – developed to satisfy customers everywhere who want leading fuel efficiency, helpful technologies and game-changing looks.

“Our vision for Fusion was clear – deliver the very best of what One Ford stands for,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of Global Product Development. “We brought our global teams together around a blank slate with the charge to develop a midsize car with groundbreaking design and jaw-dropping fuel economy – one that featured technologies to help make our customers safer and better drivers. This car is the result.”

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Fusion is revealed in North America in S, SE and range-topping Titanium series and points to the next Ford Mondeo for world markets.

Triple-crown fuel efficiency
The new Fusion is expected to deliver best-in-class fuel economy across customers’ choice of gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid sub-segments, following through with the commitment by Ford to be the fuel-efficiency leader – or among the leaders – with each new model brought to market.
Fusion brings the broadest selection of fuel-efficient powertrains in the midsize car segment. It offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives, a pair of EcoBoost™ four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine, an automatic start stop system to shut off the engine at stationary idle, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive applications, and a choice between automatic and manually shifted six-speed transmissions.

The 1.6-liter EcoBoost is expected to deliver best-in-class four-cylinder non-hybrid fuel efficiency of 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine – paired with a paddle-shifted six-speed SelectShift Automatic™ transmission, available 19-inch wheels and tires, and all-wheel drive with the ability to send additional torque to the rear – is the Fusion performance option.

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Ford Fusion Hybrid

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid
The Fusion Hybrid – 2010 North American Car of the Year – continues to innovate and evolve with all-new lithium-ion batteries that save weight and generate more power than previous nickel-metal hydride batteries, while raising maximum speed under electric-only power from 47 mph to 62 mph.

Fusion Hybrid also features an all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine, significantly downsized from the previous 2.5-liter unit while maintaining performance standards. This innovative powertrain is anticipated to deliver best-in-class fuel economy of 47 mpg in city driving and 44 mpg on the highway.

Fusion Hybrid fuel economy stands to outperform the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid by 4 mpg city and 5 mpg highway and the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid by 12 mpg and 4 mpg, respectively.

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Ford Fusion Energi

2013 Ford Fusion Energi
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Topping the fuel-efficiency ladder is the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, aiming to be the most fuel-efficient midsize car in the world. Arriving this fall, Fusion Energi is anticipated to deliver more than 100 MPGe, a mile per gallon equivalency metric for electrified vehicles. This is 8 MPGe more than the Chevrolet Volt and 13 MPGe more than the projected efficiency of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid model.

The next-generation Fusion 1.6-liter is the first automatic-transmission Ford product offered with an automatic start stop system. It shuts off engine power smoothly when the car is stopped and seamlessly restarts as the driver releases the brake pedal, helping Fusion to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by approximately 3.5 percent.

Fusion looks out for you
The all-new Fusion offers an unprecedented portfolio of driver assistance and convenience technologies based on sensors, cameras and radar that enable the car to see and respond.

Fusion can help drivers maintain proper lane position, adjust vehicle speed to changing traffic conditions, identify suitable parking spaces and help park, even aiding drivers backing out of parking space where visibility is obstructed. Specific technologies include:

Lane Keeping System: This class-exclusive technology consists of three elements to help a driver maintain proper lane position. Using a small, forward-facing camera behind the inside rearview mirror, the system “looks” down the road, monitoring lane lines to determine that the car is on course. The system will alert a driver if drowsiness or erratic lane-keeping is detected. The second element warns a driver with a steering wheel vibration if the Fusion drifts too close to lane markings. Finally, lane keeping aid will actually apply pressure on the steering to help bring the car back into proper lane position

Adaptive cruise control: Using forward-looking radar, this system “looks” down the road when activated, slowing the Fusion when slower traffic is detected ahead. Adaptive cruise control enables collision warning with brake support to help slow the car if the potential of a crash is detected

Active park assist: Employing sensors, this technology can identify a suitable parallel parking space, calculate the trajectory and steer the car to properly position it within the spot. All a driver need do is operate accelerator and brake pedals

Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert: Sensors in both Fusion rear quarter-panels are able to detect traffic in a driver’s blind spot, providing both audible and visual warnings if traffic – unseen by the driver – is detected. BLIS technology enables cross-traffic alert, warning the driver of oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space with obstructed views, such as between two large vans

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The power of voice
The all-new Fusion offers the latest iteration of Ford’s award-winning, industry-exclusive SYNC® communications and entertainment system, which enables voice-activated communication through a driver’s mobile phone and interaction with the car’s audio system.

Fusion also offers the latest version of MyFord Touch®, allowing a driver to interact with vehicle systems through voice control, a touch screen tap or a conventional button.

Both SYNC and MyFord Touch – powered by SYNC – help reduce the potential for driver distraction through voice-controlled functionality, allowing drivers to keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

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Different, by design
“The previous Fusion was an easy purchase for a customer to rationalize,” said Chris Hamilton, chief exterior designer for the next-generation model. “Our design goal for the new car was to give the mainstream sedan buyer a top-drawer visual experience, adding some emotional appeal to an already sensible choice.”

These five elements provided direction for the design team behind the all-new Fusion:

Silhouette innovation: Fusion’s sleek profile sets it apart from the powertrain/cabin/trunk “three-box” designs synonymous with midsize sedans

Perceived efficiency: Fusion character lines sweeping to the rear and thin roof pillars suggest the car is nimble and light on its feet

Refined surface language: Fusion demonstrates that a tasteful, well-executed design does not require add-ons or visual clutter

Technical graphics: Fusion’s functional design elements such as headlamps, LED taillamps and polished exhaust tips communicate enhanced technological capability

New face: Fusion signals the next evolution in Ford global design language for midsize cars and smaller

Inside, the new Fusion offers a sporty, driver-oriented environment with next-generation seating that brings expanded functionality. A higher center console supports the driver-centric theme and yields clever storage for items a driver wants to keep handy.

Additional passenger space was designed-in by moving the instrument panel toward the windshield, contributing to the cabin’s airy, open environment. Thinner, lighter frames support the comfortable next-generation seats trimmed with fabric using recycled sustainable yarns.

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Craftsmanship plus dynamics equals feel
Fusion design delivers on the promise of high visual quality, with improved materials, elevated levels of craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Interior surfaces are softer to the touch and interior and exterior gaps are minimized, while extra care has been taken to upholster or cover each edge and every surface a customer can touch. When the trunk lid is opened, for example, a spring-loaded cover automatically conceals the trunk latch hardware.

“The holistic goal of our craftsmanship process is to see that Fusion not only delivers a superior visual experience but also feels like quality to the customer,” said Adrian Whittle, Fusion chief engineer.

Key contributors to how the Fusion feelsare the ride and handling components that maximize vehicle dynamics.

“This really is a driver’s car,” said John Jraiche, program manager. “Fusion is even more fun to drive with specially tuned electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), a MacPherson strut front suspension and an all-new premium-level multilink rear suspension – comparable to Audi and BMW configurations.”

Careful tuning by Ford’s vehicle handling and ride team has yielded a Fusion with a dynamic character that will please a well-seasoned enthusiast while increasing the confidence level of less-experienced drivers.

Fusion interior quiet reaches a new level with acoustic underbody shields and weight-saving sound-absorption material; both minimize road and powertrain noise while boosting aerodynamic efficiency to help save fuel. The all-new model adds content such as a full-perimeter hood seal to be among the midsize sedan segment leaders in giving drivers a quiet ride.

Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi models also are equipped with active noise control. This feature uses the audio system to mitigate extraneous road noise while enhancing powertrain sounds.

Strength and safety
Fusion is designed with customer safety in mind. Engineers increased its body strength by 10 percent, using more high-strength steels such as boron, and added dual first-row knee airbags and adaptive front airbags that vent and tether to conform to a specific occupant’s size, position and seatbelt usage.

The Fusion safety team targeted top-of-the-line ratings in each public domain safety benchmark, including National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ratings, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick and top ratings in world markets where the car will be sold.

The most prominent example is Fusion’s front-end architecture, as the same car must face simultaneous – and seemingly conflictive – standards across regions. The car’s front end is equipped to meet head-on and offset barrier standards for North America while still conforming to European standards for pedestrian protection – thanks to hours of computer modeling and 180 validating crash tests.

Fusion will be produced at Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico, manufacturing facility, soon adding production at AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich. The car will appear in Ford showrooms in North America and South America later this year. Mondeo will be introduced next year in Asia and Europe.

2013 Ford Fusion, Explorer to Get Lane Mitigation System

In next few days until the reveal we’ll get more information on the new Ford Fusion which is a good marketing technique to get people interested. It’s all fine and dandy to have all these safety features. But if you need a computer to tell you when to change lanes and that you’re too sleepy to drive. YOU SHOULD’NT BE DRIVING. Take the bus. All this just shows that more and more people should’nt be driving. GET OFF THE ROAD! The Blind Lane Change Feature was available on my 2011 but I said no thanx. I have to admit the one feature that does help a lot is the back up sensors, a lot of times you think you’re not close to whatever is behind you, the sensors let you know. Or if that idiot suddenly appears behind your car when they know you’re backing up, it helps too.


For the 2013 model year, the completely redesigned Ford Fusion will get an available lane departure warning system. The safety feature, usually reserved for luxury vehicles from Mercedes-Benz or Volvo, will help keep drivers aware of lane markings and alert drivers if they’re drowsy.

The feature, which Ford calls the Lane Keeping System, uses a camera mounted on the windshield in front of the rearview mirror; it helps record and detect lane markings. Once the car is traveling faster than 40 mph, the steering wheel will vibrate — simulating the feel of going over rumble strips — if you try to change lanes without using a turn signal. If the driver doesn’t respond and continues to drift into another lane, the electric power-assisted steering will kick in and slowly steer the car back into its lane, Ford says. (Mercedes’ system works in a similar way.) If the driver is actively trying to switch lanes without indicating, the slight tug of the Lane Keeping System can be easily overridden, Ford says.

If the system detects a driving pattern consistent with fatigue, an audible warning and visual alert will advise the driver to pull over and rest. If the driver doesn’t heed the warning and continues to drive tired, the system will warn again, but this time more dramatically.

The Lane Keeping System will debut on the 2013 Ford Fusion, which will be unveiled at the 2012 Detroit auto show in two weeks. The Ford Explorer will also get the safety system in 2012. Compared with its midsize sedan competition, this piece of safety technology is pretty sophisticated for the category. Ford will continue to roll out the system across the automaker’s lineup during the next couple of years.

We’ll have more information on the 2013 Ford Fusion and 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid on Jan 9.

2013 Ford Fusion and Escape to get major make-over

A year after researching, test drives and renting I finally went with a brand I never had in mind.  Ford was not a brand I thought I could trust but then I researched more and learned that the new  Ford CEO has changed everything at Ford headquarters, including making better quality cars and I am here to attest to that and to say that the former CEO of bombardier knows what he’s doing. I’ve owned the 2011 Ford Fusion for about 4 months now and I have only good things to say about it. Agile, quiet, fuel efficient, loaded with tech stuff, and it talks to you and YOU TALK TO YOUR IT! You’ve made a new Ford Car friend practically. 

I’ve read only positive reviews on the Ford Fusion and after renting it for a bit in the summer and owning it for 3 months, I have no complaints. I actually love how it drives, very agile, inside hardly any road noise, has all the bells and whistles, tech stuff except for the review mirror and for a mid-size sedan you don’t need one.

Now here comes the redesigned Fusion next year.

What MAY be the 2013 Ford Fusion.

COLOGNE, GERMANY — The final production details and on-sale dates of all-new versions of two of Canada’s most popular new vehicles, the Ford Escape and Fusion, are still being held under lock and key behind Ford’s doors.

But during this year’s Frankfurt auto show, Canada’s best-selling automaker offered several puzzle pieces as to how its next model-year Escape compact crossover and Fusion mid-size family sedan (due sometime next year) will look, drive, ride and handle.

Despite the Escape being around since 2000, riding on a platform that dates back to the 1990s’ Mazda 626, it remains a solid seller in Canada.

With more than 31,000 sold through the end of August this year, the small SUV is Ford’s second best-selling vehicle, only behind the top-selling F Series trucks.

The Fusion, which debuted in 2005, also qualifies as an oldie but a goodie.

More: Ford’s stunning new concept shows off future style and features

More: Ford falls hard in new Consumer Reports ranking

With more than 14,000 sold so far this year, it’s the best-selling mid-size sedan in Canada.

Ford has already previewed the looks of the 2013 Escape in the shape of the Vertrek concept, first seen at last January’s Detroit show.

The 2013 Fusion and its European Mondeo platform-mate had their design previewed by the Ford Evos concept at the Frankfurt show.

The Ford concept’s gull-wing doors won’t make it to production. But the 2013 Fusion (expected at next January’s Detroit show) should wear a similar rendition of the Evos’s front grille, swept-back side window treatment, and production-ready versions of its head- and tail-lights.

To get a feel for how the next Fusion and Escape may drive, Ford offered me the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a current 2012 Mondeo sedan and the Escape’s European counterpart, the Kuga crossover, near the German city of Cologne, where many of Ford’s European engineering facilities are found.

Like the recently introduced Fiesta and Focus, Ford is minimizing the differences between its vehicles globally.

I was told that, in regards to steering, ride and handling, the current European Mondeo and Kuga give big clues as to what to expect in regards to driving dynamics for our next Fusion and Escape.

In the case of today’s Escape, that can only be a good thing.

Similar to rivals like the Kia Sportage or Volkswagen Tiguan, piloting the Kuga is similar to driving a tall compact hatch.

The model I drove (powered by a diesel engine that will not be initially offered in the next Escape) offered a lot more linearity and feel in its steering than today’s Escape.

In fact, the Kuga had a trio of driver-adjustable steering settings.

The Escape has one: numb.

Of course, much of the Kuga’s driving appeal comes from its compact dimensions, which more than likely are upsized slightly for the North American Escape.

The difference between today’s Fusion and Mondeo sedans is more subtle.

The current Fusion is one of the more fun-to-drive family sedans, but it lacks the driving refinement of its European counterpart. The Mondeo feels more composed, better planted in corners, and with more communicative steering than its North American cousin.

Even at speeds up to 180 km/h on a stretch of unrestricted speed on the autobahn, the Mondeo felt rock-solid.

If Ford can make the next Fusion drive like today’s Mondeo, fans of European sedans on a budget may have to add the Ford to their shopping list.

The other piece of the 2013 Fusion’s puzzle was what was under the Mondeo’s hood.

It’s the same 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder EcoBoost gas engine that’s becoming optional in the Canadian-market 2012 Edge and Explorer.

If you haven’t heard, “EcoBoost” is what Ford calls its new powertrain strategy. It involves using gas engines, but with smaller displacements to reduce fuel consumption (the “Eco” bit), then bolstered with high-tech (turbo charging, direct-injection and twin-independent variable cam technology, etc.) to make up the difference in performance (the “Boost” part).

The 2.0L four is one of four EcoBoost engines, which also includes the 3.5L V6 iteration (now offered in various Ford and Lincoln full-size products, including the F-150 truck), a 1.6L four available in the European Focus, and a new 1.0L three-cylinder (that will become the smallest engine Ford makes) available in European Fiesta and Focus models in 2012.

Ford won’t confirm it, but I expect the 2.0 EcoBoost four will replace the current Fusion’s V6 engines as an upgrade over a naturally aspirated four in the base model.

Compared with the 2012 Fusion’s 2.5L four, the Mondeo’s 2.0 EcoBoost has a lot more horsepower (237 vs. 175), and pound-feet of torque (251 vs. 172). But it sips about the same amount of fuel: around 7.5L 100 km combined city and highway.

Back on the autobahn, the Modeo’s 2.0 EcoBoost is more refined than racy.

As with the Mustang, Ford added a bulkhead-directed “sound symposer” to create the addition of some “naturally aspirated” engine sound at high engine revs and during stomps on the accelerator.

The engine is smooth, but the power won’t startle you. Turbo lag is non-existent. And the Mondeo is heavy for its class, which may have dulled the EcoBoost’s responsiveness as well.

Also know that there’s a large performance gap between the 2.0 and 3.5 EcoBoost engines.

A fifth engine to fill that hole, and possibly power a high-performance Fusion ST, would offer some competition to my current family sedan pick: the Kia Optima SX, with its 274 hp four.

With the looks from the Evos and Vertrek concepts, power from the EcoBoost engine family, plus vehicle dynamics and driving characteristics developed in Europe, Ford has outlined many of the pieces that will make up the 2013 Fusion and Escape models.

How all those pieces come together is another thing. Come this time next year, we should have our answers.

Travel for freelance writer John LeBlanc was provided by the automaker.