Sooner or later, that flame-belching, window-rattling red Mustang of yours will run out of open roads and cheap gas.
Kids come along, a heavy mortgage lands in your lap with a thud and then your Significant Other (SO) starts insisting you get something more sensible – like a car that doesn’t set off half the alarms in the neighborhood.
Heck, the SO may even want a back seat and reasonable fuel economy, if you can imagine that.
Well, I might have the right mid-size sedan for you – an innocent-looking Detroit door-slammer that your preacher will likely even nod approvingly at.
The 2017 Ford Fusion Sport sizzles beneath its sedate surface.
Of course, he probably won’t realize that the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport sizzles beneath its sedate surface — a true closet snarler just looking to spoil a BMW’s day.
As you may recall, the front-wheel-drive Fusion wowed the industry with its refined good looks when the car arrived four years ago, the first mid-size Ford with deep European roots.
While still strong and attractive, though, the Fusion is just no longer fresh.
So to keep things tasty until a redesigned model arrives – maybe next year – Ford poured a full bottle of spice onto the Sport, giving it a turbocharged 325-horsepower V-6, all-wheel-drive and a reasonably firm Euro suspension.
Catch it if you can.
My teen-ager blue Sport sort of hinted that it might be special without screaming to the neighbors that you could be a road renegade.
A bold Aston Martin-inspired grille, for example, anchored its front end, flanked by extremely horizontal headlamps that sliced deeply into the front fenders.
Moreover, a long, powerful hood with a raised power dome looked as if it might be hiding something interesting.
Meanwhile, prominent character lines high and low helped pull the Sport’s sides a bit tighter, while a small spoiler rode atop the trunk.
Also adding a little seasoning to the mix was a sleek curved top that slid gracefully into the trunk, almost like a hatchback.
A long, powerful hood with a raised power dome looked as if it might be hiding something interesting.
If you look closely, you might also notice the twin dual-pipe exhausts nestling beneath the bumper and the glossy-gray 19-inch wheels wrapped with 235/40 tires. Hmmm.
At the business end of those pipes lies Ford’s newest – and, I think, rowdiest – EcoBoost engine, a 2.7-liter V-6 with a block cast in the same stout material as the big diesels in SuperDuty pickups.
In fact, the engine was developed as one of the motors for the slightly smaller F-150 pickup and has since been shoved into special performance models of the Fusion and Edge crossover.
Someone at Ford should get a bonus for that idea.
With 380 lb.-ft. of torque to supplement 325 horsepower, the 2.7 can easily push the hefty 4,100-pound Sport around.
Its motor leaps to life at about 2,500 rpm and pulls to 6,000 rpm with a throaty moan, zipping to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to Car and Driver.
Though the six-speed automatic is fairly basic by today’s lofty nine- and 10-speed standards, it clicked off positive shifts and was there with downshifts when I needed them.
Thanks to all-wheel-drive, torque-steer was not a problem and the only time I noticed a bit of turbo-lag was when I nailed the car at a 20-mph roll.
Of course, all of the Sport’s performance pieces result in V-8 fuel economy: 17 miles per gallon in town and 26 on the highway – a price I was willing to pay.
As the car’s name implies, the ride was firm, clomping some over stretches of bad pavement.
It turned into corners pretty crisply for a porky two-ton sedan, its body remaining flat and nicely buttoned down.
Likewise, its steering – though kind of heavy – was quick and offered reasonable feedback from the road.
If Jerry would let me, I’d happily take the Sport on a 12-hour, thousand-mile road-trip – as long as I had a pit-bull lawyer riding shotgun.
We should be reasonably comfortable.
It turned into corners pretty crisply for a porky two-ton sedan.
The gray interior in my $41,000 Fusion felt spare but well-executed, like something you might find in an upper-end Volkswagen – and I mean that in a mostly positive way.
A swoopy black dashboard in decent plastic curved around the instrument panel before colliding with a large, sort of dated-looking center-stack.
Not only did the stack kind of spoil the car’s slight Euro vibe, it forced me to use dumb touchpads on the display screen to find my Outlaw alt-country station on Sirius radio. (What happens, I wonder, when some hapless Fusion driver runs into the back of a Ford exec?)
Fortunately, the center-stack offered buttons for the volume and climate controls, as well as Ford’s latest Sync 3 system, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The stack dropped onto a broad console where a rotary shifter with a knob that might have been lifted from a Maytag controlled the automatic.
Gray leather and suede seats offered good support, as well as grippy perforated centers.
Plus, you can show the Significant Other that the back seat provides good leg and headroom.
Responsible performance. What more can you ask?
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