2014 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD - Boost Me, Baby - Review

‘Tis the Season for Giving.

Over at Ford Motor Co., CEO Alan Mulally owes Chris Hamilton big-time for his transformation of the Ford Fusion / Mondeo. Hamilton ought stuff a stocking hanging over the mantelpiece of Ian Callum, who penned the Aston Martin DB series, a major Fusion donor.

But there are Ford Fusions, and then there areFORD FUSIONS.

Park a base Fusion SE model next to the 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD. The latter is distinguished with distinctive (optional) 19″ smoked-alloy rollers, a deeper, more “Aston-like” front end, rear deck lid spoiler and rear lower valence with intergrated dual chrome exhaust outlets. You still cannot tell the difference between the two? Make an appointment with the optometrist before your next driver’s license renewal.

Of all the ” halo” mid-size family sedan competition none has the “What was that” presence of the Fusion Titanium.

Boost Me, Baby:

A 6-speed automatic gearbox, with shorter 3.36:1 gearing, can be “paddled up” at 6000 rpm before it hits the rev limiter wall. If there is a four-banger to end all the “coarseness” stereotypes this is it. Quite tractable is 270 pound-feet of twist beginning at under 3000 rpm. As the Ecoboost 2.0L builds steam, it bellows like Ahab aboard the Pequod, in hot pursuit of Moby Dick.

The Fusion Titanium Ecoboost AWD consistently produced mid 6-second zero-to-sixty times. Given all 3700-pounds aboard, the advertised 240-horses under hood seem understated. How “Eco” is the 16 psi of  twin-scroll “Boost”?  Direct injection delivers combined fuel economy of 22 miles-per-gallon, a 15% “boost” over equally powerful six-cylinder powerplants.

Little wonder, then, that this all-alloy turbo-charged VVT twin-cammer sits under the hoods of  Jaguar’s base XF 2.0 luxury saloon and the Land Rover Evoque personal cross-over.

All Hail All-Wheel Drive:

The front strut/ rear multi-link chassis serves the Ford Fusion Titanium drivetrain well. Low-profile 235/40 Continental ContiPro rubber pulls off a quiet ride. Damping has been stiffened but retains civility. The oversized rollers do their part to transmit only the most incorrigible impacts past the chassis, but with little pitching or bump-steer. Electrically boosted steering bears a sprightly 14.8:1 ratio but could use better centering. Traction control can be switched off, though not stability control.

When stability sensors detect wheel spin up front, a JTEKT hydraulic multi-plate e-diff shifts from 10% to as much as 55% of torque to a rear Ford mechanical open differential. Much like the all-wheel drive Volvo S60 . Despite an additional 150 pounds of  hardware, the Fusion Titanium AWD is slightly less nose heavy. Rotation can be induced in a hard corner. ABS torque vectoring eliminates front wheel fight.

The four brake rotors, vented up front, are clamped onto by sliding calipers which exhibit linear pedal feel. For ferocious friction, completely defeatable stability control and eliminated pitch, there’s always hope for a “SHO”.

Deeper Than Skin:

Build levels in the Ford Fusion Titanium take on the premium Toyota Avalon in earnest. No exposed bolt shafts here. The painted finish sparkles. There is heft in every aperture movement. Including a hood, which demands strength to prop up.

The Fusion Titanium cabin certainly has more embellishments than the last Ford Taurus we sampled. Aluminum accents in the door panels integrate speaker housings. Leathers have contrasting stitching. Which is Ford speak [by way of Volvo]  for restrained and tasteful luxury. If anything too much restraint was shown with metallic and piano-black gloss accents. The pillar at the intersection of the centers console and center stack really could use some padding.

The twin pod aircraft cockpit theme notwithstanding, a lower dash top and expansive glass renders airiness. Even the arm rest atop the backgammon board sized center console gets an edgy profile.

Wafer thin perforated leather front seats make way for 44″-inches of front legroom. Along with pivoting head rests, these make for haute contemporary design. Driver’s perch thigh bolstering and comfort are plentiful. So is lower lumbar adjustability. Hips will slide up the side bolsters on freeway cloverleafs. Memory setting for three seating configurations do nothing for the wing-mirrors. Height and reach for the steering column is lever-activated do-it-yourself.

The big gift for outboard rear occupants is 38.3″-inches of legroom and nearly as much headroom. A higher than average middle-seat position places that soul directly under the Guantanamo interrogation-bright LED rear dome courtesy lighting.

Measuring 16 cubic feet, cargo space sits at the head of its segment. Just watch the “Ole’ Noggins” as the trunk lid contends with the added weight of the deck-lid spoiler.

[Cousin] Lincoln MKZ Should Be “PO’D “:

On first sight the Fusion Titanium’s driver’s environment, awash in LCD displays and a panoply of attending buttons, could induce Buck Rogers’ 21st Century technical sensory overload. Over time, the control freak aptly calls up a world of trip data/ system settings/ and infotainment selections with just two, possibly three, stabs of either thumb. No hand needs move from the respective 9 and 3 o’ Clock death grip of the lasso-sized helm.

The LCD gauge cluster, with flanking twin 4.2″ displays, come straight out of luxury cousin, the Lincoln MKZ. Like Alice in Wonderland, yours is access to settings for My Key speed limiting, intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning, cross traffic LED alert, lighting controls including our personal favorite, Auto High-Beams, audio system selections and stored navigation locations.

Our gift to those responsible for the add-on appearance of telephony, adaptive cruise control and audio volume buttons on the Fusion helm: a lump of coal.

Ford Sync, with MyFord 8″ Touch quad-split infotainment display, possesses a “Can Do” spirit in the way it converses with user. Imagine a Genie which unfailingly grants its master’s commands.

Another lump of coal this holiday for the Ford designer whose idea of ergonomic is a center stack with dual orbits of tiny capacitive audio, then climate buttons surrounding the vibrant Sony audio system volume dial.

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Almost as precious as its precious metal namesake is the $37,000 price tag our tested Ford Fusion Titanium Ecoboost AWD. Sticking with cheaper “front driven wheels” would be like “sticking it out.” More than just pandering to the nation’s snow-belt, “Drive…He Said” muses all-wheel drive makes a perfect gift for the enthusiast.

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