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2006 Ford Fusion V6 SEL Review

Constellation Fusion

In short: A stylish, good-handling mid-size family sedan.

According to, a Taurus exhibits “solidity, practicality and extreme determination—no one will ever drive them…” Well, plenty of people drove the Ford Taurus over its nearly two-decade run, but towards the end, most weren’t very happy about it. The car that once dominated the mid-sized car market was being crushed by the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry in almost every way, while mostly being kept afloat by fleet sales and Hertz Rent a Car. The Taurus is finally departing this world for the big zodiac in the sky and being replaced by the Ford Fusion; a mid-sized American family sedan that is actually fun to drive, good looking and a real alternative to the two Japanese powerhouses.

The main reason for the Fusion’s high marks in the ride and handling department is its platform shared with the accomplished Mazda 6. In addition to featuring the same 221-horsepower V6, the Fusion offers the 6’s taut, responsive steering that gives the driver feedback never possible in the snoozefest Taurus. While it’s not as quick as the V6 Camry or Accord, the Fusion certainly isn’t slow, offering decent highway passing power and ample around-town torque. Fuel economy is on par with other mid-size V6 sedans, but those looking for better than 21 city, 29 highway, a 160-horsepower four-cylinder model is available. Better still, a Fusion Hybrid will debut in 2008.

The interior is surprisingly very good, with quality materials used throughout that mimic those in its Mazda brother and its European Ford cousins. Comfy leather seats, attractive “piano black” trim and chrome analog clock add a spot of class without resorting to the ubiquitous fake wood found in the Five Hundred. The only hiccups seem to be the woefully dull gauges, and the generic Ford radio face plate that looks and feels cheap—both of which seem out of place in the otherwise impressive cabin.

Ford thankfully decided to steer clear of the “everything for everyone” styling typical of most family sedans. Although not as radical as the bizarre “wonderful world of ovals” ’96 Taurus, the Fusion is edgy and distinct, offering customers an attractive alternative to the mundane. The front fascia’s lateral chrome bars are a flashy, yet tasteful design element that will find its way onto future Fords, including the upcoming Edge SUV. The rear end is a frumpy, though, and the clear-lens taillights looks tacked on, but remember that any disagreeable styling cues can be remedied by choosing the Fusion’s mechanically identical twin, the Mercury Milan, that sports a different grille and taillight design. So similar are the two cars, that in true badge engineering tradition, even this article could double for the Mercury version—albeit with the words “Fusion” and “Taurus” replaced by “Milan” and “Sable.” OK, so maybe not the zodiac stuff.

The Ford Fusion is a spiritual successor to the original award-winning Taurus that was gobbled up by the masses. The world of mid-size family sedans has radically changed since those days and the Fusion faces an uphill battle against its foreign competition, but Ford has trained a decent soldier. Thus far, sales have been strong and the blue oval hasn’t been forced to throw enticing factory incentives at it to clear dealer lots. The Fusion does what a good family mobile should do (lots of room, affordable price, well-built), while adding a little driving excitement and style to the mix. It too is solid, practical and perhaps determined, but unlike the late Taurus, people will actually want to drive it.

Warranty/Service: 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty; 3-year/36,000 powertrain warranty.

Base Price: $21,710 /As tested: $25,650

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

Engine: 3.0-liter V6
Horsepower: 221 bhp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 205 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Curb weight: 3,280 lbs
Wheelbase: 107.4 in
190.2/72.2/57.2 in
Turning circle: 40 feet

Brakes: four-wheel disc with optional ABS
independent front and rear
optional traction control

Safety: front air bags, optional front side air bags, optional side curtain air bags

0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
Top Speed: N/A

EPA City: 21 mpg
EPA Highway: 29 mpg

Likes: Ford's best interior; inspired handling; edgy looks

Dislikes: Engine should be either more powerful or more fuel efficient; cheap radio faceplate; dull gauges; frumpy rear end

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Photography: AlphaMedia

(Updated: 12/15/11 NW)

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