Nuts & Bolts: 2014 Ford Fusion Energi

Bottom line:  The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi makes sense. It is a good commuter car that, with proper planning, can offer hundreds of miles of gasoline-free driving. At this writing, however, it remains more of an altruistic buy than it does an immediate practical value in terms of dollars and cents.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Ride is a little hard and handling is a tad heavy for many driving tastes. The lithium-ion battery produces a feeling of dead weight in the center-rear of the car. But in all other ways, including acceleration, the sedan is highway-competent.

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Head-turning quotient: The exterior is attractively sculpted. The interior is comfortable and well executed, with quality materials.

Body-style/layout: The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi is a front-wheel-drive, plug-in gasoline-electric midsize family sedan. It employs an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. The car can run for up to 21 miles using only the battery. A 2-liter in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine automatically takes over driving duties after the battery discharges. The battery can be recharged overnight using regular 120-volt house current. A quick charge, in 21 / 2 hours, can be done using Ford’s available Leviton home charging station.

Drive system: It includes a lithium-ion battery pack, an electric motor and a 2-liter, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing (180 horsepower, 129 pound-feet of torque). Power moves to the front drive wheels by way of an automatic, continuously variable transmission.

Capacities: Seats five people. Cargo capacity is 8.2 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 14 gallons of gasoline (regular grade is recommended).

Mileage: Using gasoline only, I averaged 41 miles a gallon on the highway. The electric battery substantially improves that number. Gasoline-plus-electric total driving range is up to 620 miles.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear) with anti-lock protection, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, side and head air bags, and inflatable rear seat belts.

Pricing: The base price of the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE Luxury sedan is $38,700, with a dealer’s invoice price of $35,701. Price as tested is $39,495, including a $795 factory-to-dealer transportation charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $36,496.

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