Rental Review: 2017 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid – Silver Silvermist Anonymity

Rental Review: 2017 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid – Silver Silvermist Anonymity
Rental Review: 2017 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid – Silver Silvermist Anonymity

Last November, I found myself in the position of having a silver Fusion Hybrid, courtesy of Hertz. How so? Well, due to bad luck.

I was downtown at the county building, paying the last installment on my property tax. Job done, I waltzed out to the Town Car, happy that the city wouldn’t be getting any more money out of me until next year. It was spitting sleet, cold and crappy out. All I wanted to do was drive home, have some dinner and watch a little TV. Unfortunately, I turned left at the courthouse, went halfway down the block, and a car came out of the alley off to the right-right in front of me. Yep!

There was no oncoming traffic in the opposite lane, so I swerved to miss him, and for 1/16th of a second I thought I did, but no soap. Crunch! We both turned into a nearby parking lot and assessed the damage. The driver was extremely apologetic, so it was hard for me to really get ticked off, but my hands were shaking. Boy, nothing like an accident for a good old shot of adrenaline! But both cars were driveable, and after the police took a report and departed, we went our separate ways.

To make a long and probably boring story short, my car was approved to be repaired at Strieter Lincoln and I was extremely happy about that. Over the weekend I drove my 2004 Town Car Ultimate because I was paranoid (mostly unjustifiably) about driving the injured car. But I heard from the other driver’s insurance company, and the following week they approved a rental car for me. Although any type of car would have been fine with me, I figured I’d be getting some kind of subcompact: Versa, Fiesta, or Corolla. But I was pleasantly surprised to receive a 2017 Fusion SE Hybrid.

In approved rental-bland Silver Silvermist with Dark Black interior, it was nonetheless a nice car, comfortable and with surprisingly decent pep. Hot rod? No, but as this was only the second hybrid I’ve driven (#1 was the 2015 Lincoln MKZ 2.0H reviewed at RG last year) it drove rather nicely.

I was curious about the fuel economy, since I’d be driving it several weeks. Of course, the primary reason for getting a hybrid is the fuel economy (and smug virtue-signalling as well, but let’s not go there), so I wondered what the real-world figures would be. Back in 2013-14 my uncle had a then-new Fusion Hybrid, and despite primarily being driven around town and on Interstate 80 between Des Moines and Iowa City, the mileage was fairly lacking.

But it’s all relative, as his daily driver was a late-model Jetta TDI. And since I daily drive a 2000 Town Car, I was pretty sure it would be significantly better than my usual weekly fuel consumption. Unless there was something terribly wrong with the Fusion, anyway!

Although I have to confess, it was highly entertaining to step on it and watch the little eco-leaves fly off, like Dorothy and her house in The Wizard of Oz. Cue evil laugh: Muhahahahaha!

When I got the car from Hertz, it had a full tank of gas. A week later, I was averaging 44 mpg and still had half of a tank. Not bad.

There were irritations, however. One thing I definitely did NOT like about this Fusion rental, was that there was no window tint at the top of the windshield, and the severe rake meant I was squinting all the way into the office most mornings. This problem was compounded by the dinky sun visors. My 18-year old Lincoln had larger visors, and nifty auxilary visors that folded out to cover an even larger area. But the Fusion? Nope! Not cool, Ford. I…I cahn’t see! Seriously: who decided to omit the windshield tinting on all new cars? It seems to have started in the mid 2000s and now no cars seem to have them. WHY!?

Overall though, the car was totally fine for my needs. The seats were comfortable, the car had decent pickup and acceleration and there was plenty of room as well. It was also pretty much invisible in traffic, with its “I have no imagination” silver paint.

But said decent pickup is relative. About halfway through my rental period, I decided to get the Ultimate out one morning, just for a change of pace. Holy cow, it’s a rocket compared to my rent-a-Fusion! I’d forgotten about that; I hadn’t driven a V8 in about two weeks…

One thing I did not care for was the cave-like black interior. Now, this isn’t the car’s fault, and you can get a nice light tan interior on these, which would be my preference. Actually, a Fusion Titanium in Ruby Red metallic with Ceramic leather interior would be pretty damn nice…

But rental fleets just want the basics, as you might have guessed. Color? Heck, they don’t want color! Customers don’t want color! Just make sure it’s black, white or silver, so they can get a decent trade-in and the dealer can move it off their floorplan quickly once it becomes a program car. You know the drill. At least it was somewhat lightened up with light gray pillar covers and headlining. I’ve just always preferred light interiors in my cars. They seem cheerier, and in our typical scorching Midwest summers, they cool down much faster after sitting in the parking lot at the office all day.

Another irritant was the ‘infotainment’ applications. Keep in mind I have two “pre-infotainment” Town Cars; they just have radios. So I don’t give a flying fig about connecting my phone with the car. Yet the Fusion thought it prudent to remind me that NO PHONE IS FOUND KLOCKAU! every fricking time I drove the car. If I drove it for more than 15-20 minutes, it sought to remind me yet again: HEY YOU! HEY YOU HAVEN’T PAIRED YOUR PHONE YET! WHY THE HELL NOT! ARE YOU A LUDDITE? DO YOU NOT HAVE A SMARTPHONE?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING, DRIVING? NO ONE DRIVES ANYMORE! NOW PAIR YOUR PHONE DAMMIT, THERE ARE FUNNY CAT VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE AND YOU’RE MISSING THEM RIGHT NOW!

I did not appreciate this. And although I leafed through the owner’s manual, looking for a way to put a stake through the heart of this stupid little reminder, I found no solution. I did, however, enjoy the satellite radio, especially the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s channels!

Overall though, and irritating radio reminders notwithstanding, the Fusion helm was fairly well laid out. A console shift lever has been eliminated and replaced with a rotary knob, which I got used to fairly quickly. The first couple of days though, I kept moving my arm up for the nonexistent column shift, a consequence of my owning two Panthers.

The gauges are highly versatile, you can select from a myriad of gauges, fuel-efficiency icons and other forms of operational data in the two displays flanking the speedometer. A must in our smartphone-obsessed society these days, I guess.

As a midsize domestic (well, tangentially domestic, as it’s Hecho en Mexico), it performs its job just fine. I went out to dinner one evening with my parents and my sister, and the four of us fit in the car with plenty of room. The back seat, though certainly not as commodious as when we go out to a supper club in my Town Car, is perfectly fine. So many new cars sacrifice the back seat for front seat room these days, for the typical single-person-and-perhaps-a-dog drivers commonly seen on the roads.

One thing I liked was the good-sized cubby in the center console. It was housing an iPass should I have some urge to travel to Chicago or whatnot, but I didn’t. I did take it up to the lake though, and on the two-lane highways of Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, it was pretty nice. Good handling, stable. Of course the coarseness of that four-cylinder engine indeed made its presence known. It was more forgivable on the Ford than on the hybrid Lincoln MKZ I drove last year, but it was still somewhat irritating.

I mean really. It is 2018. Unless it is a dirt-cheap, bottom tier car like a Fiesta, Yaris, Forte or Fit, a noisy engine in this day and age is a little embarrassing, especially on a mid-range midsize car. Ford, either smooth it out or add a lot more sound insulation. Said noise was partially mitigated if you took it easy throttle-wise and let the electric motor do its thing. But still. It’s a 2017 Ford, not a ’71 Datsun, for Pete’s sake.

Overall, this was a fairly nice car. If you take the tribe to Disney World this summer and rent one, you’ll probably have zero issues. Unlike some other midsizers like the Camry, with good lines but a face only a mother could love, and the Malibu with its upside-down grille, the Ford is an attractive car. No goofy grille, no comic-book taillamps, just clean lines and a pleasing nose. The basic bones are nice, but if I was plunking down my own cash I’d rather have a CPO Lincoln MKZ than a new Ford, as the MKZ interior is much nicer inside, with wood and leather and whatnot, and more quiet due to the extra sound insulation Lincoln adds. But if you have an interest in one of these, I’d say it’s worth a look. Or at least a test drive!


  1. Nice review, the only Disney trip problem I could see is you lose some trunk space for the battery. Didn’t look like such serious damage to your Lincoln, so why the long wait for the repair? Hope the wait is worth it with an unnoticeable repair to your otherwise very clean Lincoln.

    1. Oh, I got my car back at the end of November. It was worse than it looked in the picture, the whole top of the door frame was sprung, so they just replaced it. I was a little worried about matching that tricoat paint, but it turned out terrific; they basically repainted the whole side to get it to blend properly.

      It just took me a while to finally get this review written-been meaning to do it since before Christmas… 🙂

  2. I persuaded my SO to get an off lease CPO 2013 Fusion SE with the 2.0 EcoBoost in 2015. We both love it. It’s been quite good to her, and I enjoy it as well.

    The problems with the windshield angle and driving position are issues for me with most late models. It’s a big reason reason I like minivans so much. Not only are they almost as practical as pickups, but the seats are chair height and sightlines are good without requiring crampons and a be paying rope to get behind the wheel.

  3. This blog is great. Well written and wide ranging. I cannot believe that there only 837 subscribers. Get a mention in R&T and/or Peter DeLorenzo’s Autoextremist, for gosh sakes.

  4. With the ridiculous angle windshields are at these days it is unforgivable that they don’t tint them anymore. Our properly upright Delta 88s all had it, and they were crap.

  5. Maybe the lack of windshield tint on newer cars is due to the amount of sensors (light, etc) that is built into them nowadays ? You say that it started in the 2000’s but I would be inclined to think it was in the 90s, since my 99 S80 has it..

  6. A little surprised a hybrid version ends up in a fleet. The NA four version lists for so much less and would thus yield the lowest resale price as a program car. That four and the 6 speed auto would then be the sweet spot for slightly used value shoppers as the long time durability choice. That buyer might be put off by the German design and Mexican production. With Hertz being owned by Ford it may just come down to what product Ford needs to move.

    1. Rental fleet vehicles are typically the models and variants that are not selling well at the retail level. Hybrid sales have been poor whenever fuel prices are low, so to keep the hybrid line and suppliers in place the manufacturers offer great deals to fleet buyers. I rarely rent cars, but I remember getting a Prius some years ago when gas prices were low, and a PT Cruiser when the retro-fad had died off. I imagine the green car tax credits and other government goodies may also play a role in rental firm decision to buy hybrids.

  7. Tom,
    Sorry to see the damage, glad it’s fixed. I just rented the exact Fusion in Baltimore over the past weekend, I agree with your comments, coarse engine, great economy (40.0,MPG), nice car, drab interior. Did you notice that the “adjustable steering wheel” was nearly unusable, at least on an ingress/egress basis? Why, if Ford made adjustable wheels for so many years (my ’70 and ’79 Marks and the ’07 Town Car have easily reached levers) did they decide to make this important convenience feature non functional?

  8. Great stuff. You should review more current vehicles, fresh perspective.

    Issue is when this Ford came out it was competitive with best hybrids out there. Since it hasn’t changed much.

    I can’t blame people for wanting a model 3 instead of this Ford or equivalent MKZ. Yesterday in Savannah saw the first model 3 in wild. The driver was driving it like a 3 series. All silver. Here is the issue: make a all electric like model 3. Americans will love it.

    Alas, Musk is the only man alive that gets it. Tesla is the future.

    1. Paul – I hope you are being sarcastic with your love of EVs, Musk, and Tesla. Unlike Tesla, Ford actually tries to make money on the cars they sell, and the reason they haven’t updated their hybrids is that they don’t make money on them despite generally positive reviews and government subsidies. It makes much more sense and dollars to put money into F-150s and Navigators that actually earn big profits. On the other hand, there isn’t much evidence that any EV is profitable, Tesla certainly isn’t, so if Ford would follow your suggestion and jump into the EV market in a big way it would not make Ford shareholders very happy.

      1. You forget the internet high tech model.

        Innovate first and money comes later.

        Do you think Amazon made money at first?
        Or Google?

        Those examples are prime examples that innovation brings seed money so you develop for a future that will overtake all known technology. It’s a new way of doing things. Innovation brings investors with hope for future. Tesla has many of the same characteristics.

        Just realize losing money today doesn’t mean you lose money in future if you are innovating and have a product no one else does.

        1. With interest rates near zero for so long, investors are much more patient about getting a return on their speculative investments, which has helped nurse along a lot of “new tech”, some of which have yet to make a profit. If interest rates continue to rise, that patience will be zero for “speculative” profits from money losing firms when investors can safely earn 4-6% with Treasuries or Bank CDs. The only reason that Tesla has a product no one else has is because no else wants to lose that much money. If EVs ever get popular enough to be profitable (and/or battery technology improves dramatically in cost and capacity), then everyone will jump in with their own EVs, and I predict a difficult future for Tesla.

          1. Electrification is not speculation. IT IS THE FUTURE.

            Here in Atlanta, I see the exact types that used to drive BMWs and Mercedes coupes and sedans in 1990s and 2000s, drive model S and Model Xs now. Those are the type customers a manufacturer would give their first born to have. There is nothing speculative about it. Those are the smartest customers in the market going for the coolest product (iphone, Tesla, Alexa) in the market.

            And still, Tesla has so many other firsts. First to put charging stations across the nation. First to allow updates to their car technology software over the air. First to see direct to customer. First to put huge LCD controlling all muscle memory features in their vehicles. First to put coooool new stores in cooool new shopping center in big hip cities (Avalon in Atlanta). First to put fast EVs that embarrass “stingrays”. hellcats, and the GERMANS at their own game.

            Meanwhile, the brick and mortar car manufacturers, sell their cheap looking EVs (hello Bolt) next to their cool ICE cars (Hello Stingray, hello Camaro, hello Tahoe and Suburban and Silverado). And the problem is not isolated to GM. Look at BMW. And their poor old I3 (since discontinued) and I8 (not selling). Because brick and mortal manufacturers are all about their mainline business. Porsche keeps talking, yet no EVs yet, and their mainline is Cayanne, Panamera and 911, not some little EV in future. No matter the performance. People associaate electrics with Tesla. Like people associate hybrids with Prius and Toyota (hello poor Volt).

            I remember a time when Borders and Barnes and Noble were like we can get into this game with Amazon and sell over internet. Meanwhile, Amazon was perfecting the process. With one click checkout. with tablets. We all know how that game ended. Borders out of business. B&N is a shadow of its old self and in ICU. And Amazon is the new Rockefeller of American industry. Screwing the pieces is easy part(old time car manufacturer think Tesla won’t be able to screw them correctly and hence they keep thinking they got nothing to worry about), perfecting the battery, distribution, recharging stations, sales model is the hard part that Tesla has already got a head start on.

            Tesla is KING. Only way to stop Tesla, is for someone to try and buy them. The only companies that can do that: APPLE and GOOGLE and AMAZON.

            Yes Dorothy, you are not in Kansas any more.

    1. I wouldn’t classify 1,100 over three years as “mass” production for a company like GM considering the Bolt is clearing over a 1,000 per month with regularity.

      30/month is bespoke builder territory not mass production.

      1. And for the record – I am wrong and apparently the standards for mass production are very, very low.

    2. Well, if you want to talk about first mass-scale vehicle electrification it would probably be more accurate to nominate Baker or Detroit, which both made several thousand EVs in the first couple decades of the 20th century (all without subsidies). Range and “refueling” speed killed them both, and unfortunately EVs have the same problem today, which is why they need subsidies to sell – its very hard to beat the energy density of gasoline or diesel. Tesla S battery weighs about 1400 lbs and gives about 300 miles range, which would require just over 70 lbs of diesel to achieve the same distance (assuming 30 mpg).

  9. Great review as always, Tom. Keep up the good work. It is nice to see you appreciated somewhere else!

    As far as the Fusion is concerned, they are very nice cars. I haven’t driven the current body style but they do look nice and seem to be well-made. As nice as they are, there really is no comparison to your Lincolns!

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