Take Charge

The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi is a futuristic plug-in with a high-tech price tag

BYJim Prueter
The Ford Fusion family welcomed a new addition in 2013: the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. Boasting the same genetic makeup as its relatives — good looks, comfortable seats, and plenty of legroom — the Energi is a great addition to the plug-in market.
 
The primary feature that distinguishes the Energi from its hybrid sibling is the distance it's capable of going on battery power alone — unfortunately, that extra travel comes with a hefty price difference.
 
With trim levels ranging from $38,891 ­to $40,500, the cost of the Energi is consistently (at least) $12,000 higher than its Fusion hybrid counterpart.
 
Hybrid vs. Plug-In
So, what’s the difference between a conventional hybrid and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) like the Fusion Energi? The short answer is battery life.
 
As hybrids, both have gasoline engines paired with electric motors via the transmission, and the battery for the electric motor recharges when the brakes are applied — a process called regenerative braking. The gas engine engages automatically (and seamlessly) once the battery power has been exhausted, which is typically after about 36 miles, depending on speed and the use of electrically powered features.

In a conventional hybrid, operating in electric mode is only good for a mile or two because the battery pack is so small. But a plug-in hybrid, like the Fusion Energi, employs a much bigger battery pack, and the electric-only range is extended to about 21 miles before needing to recharge.
 
By comparison, the Chevrolet Volt goes about 38 miles and the Toyota Prius plug-in about 11 miles on electric only, but the Fusion Energi is better looking and much more fun to drive.
 
Test Drive
We were challenged to drive the Energi from St. Louis to Tulsa Okla., on a single tank of gas. And we did.
 
The 474-mile drive, mostly in gas-electric mode, drained the battery power, and the vehicle’s electronic trip indicator calculated the overall fuel economy at 42.2 mpg — a few mpg worse than the non-Energi Fusion hybrid, which is thousands of dollars less but has virtually no ability to run on battery only. To this Ford says the average commute is 20 miles, so you could drive to work, plug-in and recharge, then drive home, all on electric power.
 
Overall, the Energi is an excellent driving car, it looks great, and it certainly cuts the use of gasoline — but it is expensive.
 
*Fuel economy refers to 108 mpge (electric) and 43 mpg (gasoline only)  
JIM PRUETER, an automotive writer based in Phoenix, has provided reviews and advice about cars for more than 20 years.

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Base Price: 
$38,891
Price as Tested: 
$43,525
Fuel Economy: 
43 MPG City
108 MPG Highway
Likes: 
  • Can operate exclusively on electric power
  • Pleasant driving
  • Stylish inside and out
Dislikes: 
  • Expensive
  • Battery reduces trunk space
  • Less than desirable mpg once battery is depleted
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