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2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6 Road Test

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Rob Rothwell
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Sitting snuggly between the compact Focus and the grande Five Hundred is Ford's latest sedan, the mid-size yet spacious
This is a nice looking car. (Photo: Rob Rothwell, Canadian Auto Press)
Fusion, which is just a whisper longer in overall length than the Toyota Camry (yes the 2007 model), Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata. This new from the tarmac-up, front-wheel drive (FWD) 4-door offering utilizes Ford's highly acclaimed CD3 chassis architecture, also underpinning, albeit a shorter version, the Mazda6, to deliver a composed, smooth ride without resorting to marshmallows in place of springs. Part of the chassis's successful blend of handling and ride comfort can be attributed to its impressive stiffness, which allows the suspension to absorb road degradation without transmitting unpleasant reverberation throughout
The Fusion's stiff structure benefits handling and safety. (Photo: Rob Rothwell, Canadian Auto Press)
the vehicle's body structure. The firmness also contributes to the Fusion's predictable, athletic handling characteristics, which become evident when the road ahead becomes less than straightforward.

My time behind the Fusion's wheel found me seated upon charcoal leather upholstery in an upscale SEL V6-powered version of the modestly priced mid-sizer. At the heart of its stout performance are 221 horsepower and 205 foot-pounds of twist flowing through a sophisticated 6-speed automatic transmission. The regular-octane-fueled energy is produced by a 3.0-litre (183 cu in), 24-valve DOHC V6 featuring variable valve timing - essentially
Ford forgoes the usual plastic engine cover, exposing all of its hoses and wiring - how refreshing. (Photo: Rob Rothwell, Canadian Auto Press)
a retuned version of the V6 giving the Mazda6 its "zoom zoom." Ford has worked hard to polish the operational refinement of the aging mill and it shows, however, it's not yet meeting the refinement found in some of the competition, such as Hyundai's new Sonata V6 (we'll have to see what the upcoming 3.5L V6 is like in comparison). This said the Fusion's V6 delivers fairly strong acceleration combined with quiet manners, unless pushed hard, when it tends to become a tad loud for my liking; although others might find the growl from the twin pipes alluring.

Performance-minded folk enthralled by the Fusion's healthy V6 output may be
Nice smooth 6-speed shifter, but where's the manual mode? (Photo: Rob Rothwell, Canadian Auto Press)
disappointed to find that the 6-speed autobox isn't accompanied by a manual-mode setup. The best one can do to hold the engine in its sweet spot is gear down from "D" to "L," which is unfortunate given that a total of six cogs are potentially available. Nevertheless, gear changes are smooth and appropriately placed in the rev band to match most driving needs. Commendably, Ford engineers have succeeded in getting the engine's oomph through the transaxle to the front wheels without inducing torque-steer; an alarming condition that plagues many V6-powered FWD automobiles. To preclude wasteful wheelspin, another affliction of FWD, Ford has equipped the V6 Fusion with traction control as standard equipment. The electronic limiter can be easily deactivated via a dash-mounted button. Of course, once the front wheels put the Fusion in motion, there will eventually come a need to restrain the welcome momentum.
Rob Rothwell
Rob Rothwell
Automotive expert