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2006 Ford Fusion Test Drive

by Jessica Howell

A breath of fresh air in the mid-size sedan category, Ford Fusion stakes its claim to driveways across the nation with a bold and distinguished stance.

First impression: bold, impressive exterior for the vehicle replacing Ford's legendary Taurus.

2006 Ford Fusion

It's long, athletic profile showcases clean lines that lead from its short rear deck to a downward sweeping hood. Ford's new three bar chrome grille takes center stage on Fusion, lending a bit of attitude to body styling and highlighting multi-element trapezoidal projector-beam headlamps. A high shoulder and chrome beltline add a touch of edgy sophistication to the body.

After checking out the much-anticipated, contemporary exterior, I had high hopes for Fusion's 5-seat cabin. Unfortunately, the basic-of-basics interior lacks desired luster. While roomy and comfortable, the dash and "Piano Black" plastic trim that our tester was outfitted in looked more gaudy than gorgeous. The analog clock, while a nice idea, seems out of place in Fusion's otherwise understated interior.

Controls on the steering wheel come aplenty - with 8 multi-functional controls total - a number too high for many easily distracted drivers, and a bit counter-productive to the idea of making AM/FM tuning simpler.

No complaints, however, on the six disc in-dash CD player or heated seats, which quickly warmed up - a very handy feature for Michigan's brutal winter climates.

Our test vehicle, coated in Dark Blue Pearl paint, was a pretty sight in crowded parking lots. It was a bit difficult using the remote keyless entry which featured four tiny, oddly shaped buttons that require more than a quick glance to operate and wasn't exactly easy to hold.

Once on the road, Fusion made up for it's minor interior flaws with smooth handling, responsive steering and a 3.0 Liter V6 engine (221-horsepower) that provided just the right amount of "oomph."

Concise and quick, Fusion was easy to drive for a mid-size sedan that can comfortably carry a family to and from school, work and beyond. Corners were cradled nicely while the car was quick to brake at sudden stops and sped up just as quickly with the right amount of under-the-hood power.

Fuel economy is rated 21/29 mpg for city and highway driving, respectively. During my drives, I averaged 24 mpg on the highway, which still edges slightly above other V6 competitors.

With a base price of about $18,000 - Fusion seems a smart choice for those in need of a solid, strong and practical family vehicle (the fact that Fusion is nice on the eyes and more fun than you'd imagine is a bonus.) Our test vehicle, well-equipped with leather seating, anti-lock brakes (ABS,) power moonroof and Ford's Safety and Security package, came with a $26,445 price tag.

Read RTM's complete Ford Fusion Review here.