2013 Ford Fusion: Family Checklist

I've found that the test cars that turn the most heads are either brand-new models or high-end luxury vehicles. Imagine my surprise to discover the top head-turning car this year (so far) is the 2013 Ford Fusion. In fact, before I tested the Fusion I saw one on the road and it turned my head as well.

The redesigned 2013 Fusion is leaner and more sophisticated than its predecessor, and it definitely gets noticed on the road and in the driveway.

It's hard to tell what change is more noticeable in the 2013: the new grille and slim headlights or the upward-angled sheet metal on the fenders and doors. It might even be the Fusion's rear with its tapered taillights and integrated exhaust pipes. Either way, the exterior's pieces look like they all go together — more so than previous generations.

That same attention to detail can be found inside this midsize sedan. My test car had the optional MyFord Touch with a touch-screen and touch-sensitive buttons on a lower panel. After many complaints about the system, Ford added these buttons to control the climate system and stereo, but the automaker is really hoping you'll use the touch-screen. My kids loved MyFord Touch because it displayed the names of the band and the song playing on the radio. They could see it from the backseat, and they liked that they didn't have to ask me the name of the song.

My top-of-the-line Fusion Titanium with all-wheel drive had the optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. There's solid power and pickup at all speeds. The Fusion also is easy to maneuver in and out of traffic and parking lots.

The Fusion steps into family duty well. Because it's a sedan, the kids had an easy time climbing in and out of the Fusion. With its redesign, legroom has increased in both rows. The front row's legroom is now 44.3 inches versus 42.3 inches in the 2012 Fusion. Rear legroom is 38.3 inches compared to the previous generation's 37.1 inches. Both of my school-aged kids had plenty of room to stretch out in the backseat, and the Fusion easily fits rear-facing child-safety seats, though it can be difficult to access its Latch anchors.

2013 Ford Fusion: Car Seat Check

While legroom grew, the trunk's capacity shrunk from 16.5 cubic feet to 16.0. It's still big enough to handle grocery trips, but if you're already hauling a stroller back there, you will need to plan before running errands.

A gripe I have is the trunk lid didn't like to stay open, and I hit my head repeatedly on the clawlike latch. Not fun. Also, the turn signal makes a loud sound. By the end of the test, we were annoyed by the Fusion's turn-signal serenade.

One last annoyance was the sticker price. I couldn't help but be a bit let down that my test car cost $35,960, including a $795 destination charge. Yes, it's the most expensive trim level with a ton of features, but it's a far cry from the starting price of $22,695.

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