In 1989 Ford crammed a 7,000-rpm Yamaha V6 into the Taurus and made the SHO, one the greatest sleeper sports cars ever to come out of Detroit. Fast-forward to today and the modern Taurus SHO is a big luxo-cruiser, not Dearborn’s answer to European sport sedans. But, to paraphrase Yoda, there is another. The 2017 Ford Fusion Sport is stylish, has 325 horsepower and all-wheel drive, and uses an engine from a pickup truck. God bless America.
Yes, the 2.7-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 was first used in the F-150. This powerful six-cylinder is making its sedan debut with the Fusion Sport and will soon be available in the Lincoln Continental. And it’s a magical, fast-revving engine that’s never short of performance, which makes sense – there’s 325 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque to play with. Tapping into that power while sitting in a Fusion’s seat, looking at a Fusion’s dashboard, and hanging onto a Fusion’s steering wheel is as surprising as waking up one morning and finding yourself a foot taller.
The Fusion is quick despite the rest of the powertrain. Ford’s six-speed automatic gearbox qualifies as “meh,” responding better to a boot full of throttle than to requests from the steering-wheel-mounted paddles. In both normal and Sport Mode, manual mode returns quick-ish upshifts but is slow and dimwitted on the rev-matched downshifts Ford was touting. We found the Fusion behaved better in full automatic, where the where the computers control shifting and mitigate some of the transmission’s bad behavior. Score one for the standard six-speed manual in the BMW and Audi. Sorry, Detroiters.
The all-wheel-drive system, meanwhile, betrays the Ford’s humbler roots. Neutral cornering performance plays second fiddle to preventing torque steer (which it does admirably). The system doses the rear axle with 50 percent of the engine’s output and it can’t transfer torque laterally. We wouldn’t complain if Ford fitted the Fusion with the trick torque-vectoring AWD from the Focus RS, but that would probably raise the price (and give you less reason to by the 400-hp Lincoln MKZ that does have it). Still we like an all-wheel drive that show more ability to aid dry handling. It’s an area the S4 and its trick torque-vectoring sport differential scores points in that the Ford can’t match.
Pricing for the Fusion Sport starts at $34,350. That undercuts its closest relevant competitor, the V6-powered Honda Accord Touring, which lists for $34,830. Budget shoppers could check out the far-cheaper $27,435 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T, although it’s missing all-wheel drive and gives up 80 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque for the Fusion. Of course, options raise the Fusion’s price fast. Add the $2,000 401A options group (ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, a 12-speaker Sony stereo, and Sync 3 with navigation), the $1,625 Driver Assist Package (automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, a heated steering wheel, and lane-keeping assist), the $995 Active Park Assist system, and the $1,190 adaptive cruise control system, and your Fusion, like our test car, is nudging past the $40,000 mark.
At that price the Fusion Sport is still a relative bargain, especially relative to the Germans, just like the original Taurus SHO. The Fusion Sport isn’t the driving instrument that you’ll get from Ingolstadt or Munich, but Detroit does a good impression of a sports sedan in a stylish, all-American package that offers many of the things Germany asks a premium for – adaptive dampers, for example. Normally, we’d suggest you just suck up your patriotism and get the Audi or BMW, but the Fusion Sport is a compelling, attractive, and most importantly, affordable alternative that only gives itself up in the toughest of dynamic situations.