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2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

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Justin Pritchard
2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6 (Photo: Justin Pritchard, Auto123)
Looking at the Fusion, you get the impression that it was styled using a lot of rulers, protractors and straightedges. There are very few smooth, sweeping lines to this car, so it takes on a daring, almost industrial look. The face has beautiful piercing headlights and a chrome-slat grille which make it very intense. It'll clear out the fast lane as good as any BMW or Lexus for a lot less money. In the back, you'll instantly notice decorative tail lamps and dual exhaust outlets. The overall effect communicates a sense of pent up energy but it isn't overdone. Another benefit- with chrome accents here and there, you can make the Fusion look at least three or four thousand dollars more expensive by ordering it in black.

Inside, my SEL tester had gorgeous leather seats with contrasting stitching, solid, well assembled and soft materials comprising the dashboard, and lots of room. Legroom, front and back, is fantastic, as is headroom. The blind spots are minimal, so long as you keep the headrest fairly low. It's a cockpit you can relax in, stretching out and listening to music from the optional 6-CD in dash stereo. Most notably, the instrument cluster is simple and attractive but not too busy looking, with the rev-clock showing a 6,500 RPM redline. The center stack is set off by an elegant looking timepiece. Cadillac, Infiniti and other luxury carmakers use timepieces. No doubt, these posh touches help make the Fusion look and feel more expensive than it is. Ask any aspiring rapper, and he'll tell you that free bling is a good thing.

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6 (Photo: Justin Pritchard, Auto123)
The ride is firm, tuned for sportiness first and comfort second. There is no sacrifice for enthusiasts: the ride isn't uncomfortable, bit it does tell you that you are in control more than that you are sitting back and being carried along. The seats are good, and so is the driving position, and so is the frontal visibility. The steering is light and playful. You'll want to carve corners. You'll want to try to put more power down sooner as you exit a bend. You feel a part of the experience, with your every steering input making it unscathed directly to the road. No slack, no flex, no body roll-just precise handling and plenty of grip. The Fusion can get a bit frisky, being a front wheel driver. Equipped with the V6 engine, it will readily light up the inside front tire if you push too hard out of a corner, though it still holds its line very well should you wish to try it. A traction control system can be had if you don't.

If you get the impression that the Fusion sounds sensible and clever, you're correct. Even without the V6 performance, you can have the same good looks and handling starting around $23,000 with a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower. Since Ford and Mazda share engines, I can tell you that the 4-cylinder available in the base model Fusion is one of the best out there and my personal favorite. It's smooth, quiet and very peppy, while sufficiently powerful for most. It's the only way to get a manual gearbox in the Fusion too. Although a manual box is available on the Mazda 6-cylinder engine, it didn't make its way over to Ford just yet, though I hear it's in the works. All wheel drive is also in the works, and so is a Hybrid model.

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6 (Photo: Justin Pritchard, Auto123)
The 3-liter Duratec engine makes over 220 horsepower and its eager revability shows off its Japanese character. The power comes on at very low revs, and it's happy to dally along in slow moving traffic without ever making a peep or vibration. The powercurve has a bit of character to it. The power comes on nicely as the revs climb, making you want to put the tachometer needle through its paces every time you come out of a light. Running this car through its paces reminded me of driving cars with the old 2.5-liter Duratec V6 like the Contour and Probe from some 10 years back. The sound is almost identical, more intake than exhaust, though I can't figure out exactly what gives it its tone. It's a growly and aggressive sound in either case which isn't subdued or muted but rather proud to show its voice off because it sounds so good. Expect the V6 mill to drink about 8 liters of unleaded every 100 kilometers on the highway.
Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert
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