Car makers are scrambling to introduce relevant products which the car buying public can embrace. Two highly competitive segments in the middle of this fray are midsize hybrid sedans and SUVs. To achieve prominence, impressive fuel economy is no longer the only factor swaying people’s decisions, but quality, impressive handling, and appealing technological features are now drawing favor.
While the Toyota Prius remains on the top of the hill for fuel economy, at 51-mpg city and 48-mpg highway, people notice the difference in substance between driving the new Prius and non-hybrid sedans.
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Although the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid has been in showrooms for several years, the 2010 introduction of the hybrid model has put Ford front and center in the automotive world. The Fusion underwent partial upgrade for 2010 with some cosmetic refinements to its one trim level which offers three options packages.
With a dealer’s invoice price of $24,993 you can drive silently away with a roomy sedan which gets 41-mpg city and 36-mpg highway. Features of particular distinction are Fusion’s upgraded material quality and upscale techno amenities which put it on a par with entry-level luxury models.
With better acceleration and top speed than Prius or Insight, Fusion’s Road manners more like a true driver’s car. “Seamless” and “transparent” are some of the ways reviewers have described the smoothness of the Hybrid powertrain, which some compare to that of the Lexus LS 600H. Its nickel metal hydride battery (NiMH is 23 percent lighter and pump out 20 percent more power, achieving a top speed in electric only mode of 47-mph.
The 2010 Ford Fusion is powered by a 2.4 Liter 4-cylinder engine which develops 155 horsepower and 136 lb-ft of torque. Add the power from the electric motor to boost total out put to 191 horsepower. Fusion’s very efficient regenerative braking system only loses about 6 percent of the energy to heat and friction when coming to a stop. With a 17.5 gallon gas tank, the hybrid’s range is about 700 miles before needing a fill up.
To assist drivers achieve maximum fuel-efficiency, Ford has installed a flat screen display so you can get a direct read-out of how your driving style affects fuel consumption. More than adding a few new technological wonders, Ford has continually improved build quality so that it is now better than Camry and Accord according to J.D. Powers.
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid sends the loud and clear message that Detroit is capable of developing the necessary technology to wean the industry off its gluttonous dependence on Middle East oil. It also proves that when it comes to using federal loans to build vehicles which the public wants, it is money well used.
2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid
At a base price of $26,160 the 2010 Toyota Camry provides the ideal blending of a fuel efficient hybrid with the functionality of a mid-size sedan. It continues its legacy of near-luxury ride and material quality, fuel economy and low cost of ownership.
The Camry boasts of fuel efficiency rated at 33-mpg city and 34-mpg highway from its 187-hp 2.4L engine and 40hp electric motor. A significant feat is also accomplished by Camry in that it also garnered a 5-star crash test rating from the NHTSA.
A close competitor to the Camry is the Nissan Altima Hybrid which while using the Camry’s hybrid propulsion system, doesn’t keep its value as well as the Camry. The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid however provides more driver satisfaction.
2010 Ford Escape Hybrid
Priced between $29,750 and $34,010 for Base and Limited trims, the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid, although based on a platform which is older than most hybrid SUVs, it leads the SUV fuel efficiency parade with a rating of 34-mpg city and 31-mpg highway.
Its 2.5L four-cylinder engine plus two electric motors/generators combine to produce 177 horsepower. A third electric motor for AWD models adds power to the rear wheels when needed. Cargo space behind the rear seat measures at 28 cubic feet. Agility is impaired by the extra 300 pounds of hybrid drive train and battery, causing discernable roll.
Although Ford, Tesla and Nissan all received their share of the Obama administration’s $25 billion loan program to retool their facilities to design and produce advanced-technology vehicles including midsize hybrids, Ford has put their $5 billion share to the most efficient use on revamping some of their truck and SUV plants for small car production. Its Fusion Hybrid and Escape Hybrid are a testament to Ford’s ability to reinvent itself.