Ford’s Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid, has gotten a boost in its range, with Ford reporting it gets 610 miles on one tank of fuel. The new numbers have the Energi getting 60 more miles a gallon, which is a big jump from the 2016 model. The 2017 Energi goes for 22 miles on battery power, which is up ten percent from the 2016 version. It will then run another 588 miles on a tank of gasoline. The Energi’s top-speed is still 85 mph.
Few cars have ever crossed the 600-mile driving range barrier. Diesels and a few hybrids are the only ones getting 600 miles a gallon just yet. Ford’s engineers were able to add 60 more miles y tweaking the Fusion Energi’s powertrain software and its regenerative braking system.
Low fuel prices and the consumer obsession with SUVs have dampened enthusiasm and sales of hybrids and sedans. However, with summer around the corner, the price of a barrel of oil umped to more than $50, the highest yet in 2016. This typically spurs sales of hybrids and electrics. In 2015 oil dropped to around $26 a barrel, which seriously diminished sales of hybrids and electric cars.
According to AAA, the jump in the price of oil means gasoline prices this week are at the highest level of 2016, up more than 15 cents a gallon from April’s fuel costs.
The Fusion Energi has a 14-gallon fuel tank. The 2017 edition is on sale and Ford hopes it will compete against the new Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, and multiple new hybrid models from Honda. The Energi’s combined city-highway fuel economy rating is 42 mpg for gasoline only, according to ratings from the EPA.
Ford is making huge investments into new models of electric vehicles, with a $4.5 billion investment in R&D to manufacture cars that will compete with Tesla and other EV companies. The Energi has been well regarded throughout its life at Ford. It won a 2013 contest against the Honda Accord plug-in hybrid. That Honda is now gone, and for three years Ford Energi was the only hybrid in its class. 2016 brought new competitors to the space. Hyundai offers the Sonata hybrid, and then the 2017 Kia Optima hybrid, which is also o sale this year.
As a result of increased competition, Ford, invested in substantial revisions of the Energi, giving the body a facelift and streamlining the interior. In keeping with its brand-wide new design cues, Ford has given the Energi LED head and taillights, a wider and more angular grille on the front fascia, chrome garnishes and redesigned 17-inch wheels. The interior has a longer armrest, better access to the storage areas and a reworked center console featuring a rotary-style gear selector. The Energi also offers a Platinum model for those who crave leather seats, padded leather on the dashtop and steering wheel.
Under the hood the Energi still has a front-wheel-drive powertrain, with a 118-hp electric motor which combines with a 141-hp 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder, creating a total of 188 horsepower. The battery is still a 7.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which gives the car electric propulsion and draws its charge from a second motor/generator driven by the engine. When the Energi is parked and plugged in to a charger, the battery pulls power from the electrical grills. Having the ability to charge easily is what separates the Energi from the conventional Fusion hybrid, which can’t be plugged in to recharge.