The Toyota Prius has long been the standard against which all other hybrids are judged and even though it has been around a while, every new hybrid that enters the market is benchmarked against the Prius. So what of the new Ford Fusion hybrid? It is Ford’s attempt at a comfortable, green, mid-size family car and its based on the fantastic Ford Fusion, a car that won the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year.
Let’s start with looks. The Prius is a car that screams its futuristicness and green heritage. It looks futuristic on the outside and has a futuristic cabin on the inside. Its shape is synonymous with “green” cars. If you want people to know that you are driving a hybrid then this is the car you want. On the other hand, the Fusion Hybrid looks like a normal car. With the exception of a few added badges it looks pretty much like a normal Fusion. If you want to be green, but don’t want to get the eco-warrior stereotype thrown into your face then the Fusion wins hands down.
Efficiency is obviously at the heart of what both these cars do. They save you money by saving on gas. As you’d expect, the purpose-built Prius wins this category, although not by as much as you’d expect. The Prius gets a whopping 50 mpg on the EPA combined cycle, while the Fusion only manages 39, a great number for a normal car, but not fantastic for a hybrid.
But let’s look at what you have to give up in power for those extra 10mpg in the Toyota Prius. The 1.8 liter engine in the Prius makes a pretty embarrassing 98hp and 105 lb-ft of torque. To put that in perspective for any of you non-car enthusiasts out there, that’s just about enough to cart around 4 passengers and these days there are motorcycles packing more punch than that. In contrast, the Ford Fusion Hybrid produces a far more respectable 156hp and 136 lb-ft of torque. That’s about 60% more power than the Prius. Now we know that power isn’t everything, but it sure does help you pull out into traffic.
As we talked about with the outside, the inside of the Fusion looks like a real car while the Prius does make you feel like you’re sitting in a spaceship. The spaceship look really is cool until you have to live with it day in and day out and find yourself constantly relearning how to operate a car. The Fusion drives and behaves like a normal car, which if you’re driving a hybrid for the first time makes the transition a little easier.
Dimension-wise there is very little difference between either of the two cars. The Fusion has a small edge in rear legroom but in few other places. However, despite the small difference in space the Fusion does feel like a more comfortable car with comfortable seats and normal storage areas, whereas the Prius has storage in unusual places and seats that are a little hard for long drives.
Overall the two cars have a lot to recommend them both. They are both very capable cars built by respected manufacturers. If you’re looking to show people that you’re a hybrid driver and jump aboard the green train, then you’re probably better off looking at the Prius. However, if you’re not out to show people that you’ve bought a hybrid and you want the more capable and more comfortable car then you’re far better off with the Fusion. For our money we’d go with the Fusion.