Despite its slightly weightier, more powerful engine, the V-6 Sport still feels light, tight and easy to manage on the road, Warren Brown writes. (Dmitriy Shkolnik/Ford)
Columnist

Cars become popular when their designers think about everybody, particularly when they elevate the idea of “family sedan” to the rank of automotive primacy.

Thus, we have bestsellers such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Chevrolet Cruze — and the subject of this week’s column, the 2017 Ford Fusion V-6 Sport.

The midsize, all-wheel-drive V-6 Sport, mostly new for the new model year, is Ford’s effort to keep the Fusion in the “best-selling” class. It is a task as tricky as politics. Consumers, like voters, are fickle.

They were hot for the Fusion in 2013, its introductory year, largely smitten by Ford’s usurpation of the Aston-Martin grille. It wasn’t an outright theft by Ford, which once owned the British company and felt that it had the right to use the grille as part of the price of former ownership.

Anyway, it worked. The early Fusion — hmm, “Fusion,” Ford-Aston-Martin — was one of the snazziest midsize sedans in the U.S. car market. People loved it, and they were especially grateful in 2013 that it came with a fuel-efficient, reasonably powerful 2.0-liter gasoline, four-cylinder engine (160 horsepower, 146 pound-feet of torque). That car, with its four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission, got 27 miles per gallon in the city and 39 miles per gallon on the highway — pretty good for an automobile that looked and felt European but had a selling price and operating cost many Americans could afford.

The standard 2.0-liter, and now a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine, are still available for the many people who want them. Ford also offers the Fusion hybrid (the Fusion Energi) and the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine with auto start-stop.

But times change. U.S. gasoline prices have dropped significantly since 2013. People still want fuel economy. But they now want more oomph behind their Aston-Martin grilles. Enter the 2017 Fusion V-6 Sport with even sleeker all-around exterior styling and a lot more power from its twin-turbocharged, 2.7-liter gasoline V-6 (325 horsepower, 380 pound-feet of torque).

Fuel efficiency has dropped a bit (17 miles per gallon city, 26 miles per gallon highway). But that isn’t bad considering that the V-6 Sport comes standard with all-wheel-drive, which is especially useful and confidence-inspiring in inclement weather.

I like this car — drove it everywhere in all kinds of weather. I also like the additional oomph provided by the turbocharged (forced air) V-6.

Despite its slightly weightier, more powerful engine, the V-6 Sport still feels light, tight and easy to manage on the road; overall it is enjoyable to drive. I stayed on the highway in this one and am convinced that Ford’s development and introduction of this model was a smart plan to keep the words “best-selling” in the Fusion’s description.

Nice car, Ford. Nice move.

Nuts & Bolts
2017 Ford Fusion V-6 Sport

Bottom line: If you want more oomph in your midsize family sedan at a reasonable purchase price with decent fuel economy, the 2017 Fusion V-6 Sport is a good way to go. The Fusion is available in other trim levels, with the V-6 Sport sitting at the top. Also look at the base Fusion S, mid-grade SE and well-equipped Titanium and Platinum models.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The V-6 Sport gets good marks in all areas.

Head-turning quotient: The exterior is sleeker than that of the original, but the popular Aston-Martin grille remains. The interior is ergonomically sensible, enhanced by Ford’s new Sync 3 electronics control system and leather-and-suede-covered seats.

Body style/layout: The Fusion is a front-engine, mid-sized four-door sedan available with front-wheel and all-wheel-drive (the latter is standard on the V-6 Sport).

Engine/transmission: The V-6 Sport comes with a 2.7-liter, 24-valve, direct injection, twin-turbo gasoline V-6 with variable valve timing (325 horsepower, 325 pound-feet of torque). The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually via steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Capacities: Seating is for five people, albeit a tight fit for rear passengers. Trunk capacity is 16 cubic feet. V-6 Sport fuel capacity is 18 gallons. Premium-grade fuel is recommended for “best operation.”

Mileage: I averaged 25 miles per gallon in highway driving.

Safety: Standard equipment includes ventilated front disc and solid rear disc brakes; four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; rearview camera; first- and second-row curtain air bags; stability and traction control; SOS post-collision alert (for first responders) system.

Note: A full suite of advanced electronic safety equipment is available as an option.

Pricing: The 2017 Ford Fusion V-6 Sport starts at $33,605. The price as tested is $39,145, including $4,545 in options (driver-assistance package, power glass roof, inflatable rear passenger seat belts and other items) and an estimated factory-to-dealer shipment charge of $995. Ford wants to keep this one a bestseller. You can bargain. Check with buyer-assistance organizations such as your credit union and edmunds.com.