2019 Ford Fusion adds technology, trim options

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. plans to introduce more SUVs and pickups to its lineup by 2020, but that doesn’t mean all Ford cars are going away. The Blue Oval is updating the Fusion sedan for 2019 to give it a boost as industry sales plateau and U.S. consumers lose interest in cars.

The company on Tuesday showcased a refreshed Fusion sedan featuring an updated fascia and several new standard driver safety features. Though the automaker canceled a scheduled North American redesign for the 2020 model year, Ford officials have said the car is an important piece of the lineup for at least the next few years.

Despite the trend amid U.S. consumers to opt for larger utility vehicles and pickups, Ford’s Fusion was the company’s fourth-best selling vehicle in 2017. The company moved roughly 209,000 Fusions last year. Compare that to nearly 900,000 F-Series, Ford’s best-selling vehicle for years.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” said Corey Holter, car group marketing manager with Ford.

With consumers largely ditching cars, and the entire industry entering a sales plateau, Ford’s car teams packed the 2019 model with technology. The car comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360, a suite of safety features including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot information system, lane keeping system, a rear backup camera and auto high-beam lighting.

That’s a first for Ford. New vehicles over the next two years will come standard with that package. It’s an effort by Ford to lead with technologically-advanced vehicles. Sensors and safety systems are informed by Ford’s years of research on autonomous vehicles.

The 2019 Fusion also gets a boost from Team Edison, the crew of around 220 people involved with electrified vehicles and autonomous vehicle research and innovation.

Holter said the hybrid versions of the Fusion will have increased electric range. The Fusion Energi Titanium — the only plug-in hybrid in the Fusion lineup — will get a range boost using the same battery that’s in the current Fusion Energi models thanks to the electric research team, Holter and his team said Tuesday.

The 2019 model will have six trim levels. Three of those — the Fusion SE, SEL and Titanium — will have hybrid options. Other trims are the base model Fusion S, Fusion Energi and Fusion V6 Sport. The Titanium trim and hybrids also get standard adaptive cruise control.

The company still cut the number of orderable combinations on the 2019 model down to 36, down from thousands possible on the previous model. That’s a directive from CEO Jim Hackett, who’s currently steering the company to cut billions in operating costs, increase hybrid options and build bigger vehicles with bigger profit margins and a bigger audience.

Streamlining the possible combinations meant standardizing some features on lower trims that customers previously couldn’t get without additional fees. An 8-inch LCD touch screen is now standard for Fusion SE and above models, for example.

SE and above also come standard with with a 4G LTE modem as part of Hackett’s push to have 100 percent of new vehicles sold be “connected” to a network by 2019.

After the 2019 model year, it’s unclear what will happen to one of Ford’s best-selling vehicles.

The company won’t say what sedans it plans to cut over the next few years as it shifts to sell SUVS and trucks. Ford has said the next-generation Focus sedan will be built in China and exported to the U.S. starting in 2019. The automaker canceled the previously planned North American redesign program for the 2020 Fusion. The company has not released plans for the North American Fiesta, C-Max or Taurus.

The 2019 model will be assembled at Ford’s Hermosillo Stamping & Assembly plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, and will go on sale late this summer.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau