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A Review of the 2013 Ford Fusion SE: Taking the Affordable Midsized Sedan to the Next Level

There was a point in time where driving an affordable and efficient midsized sedan meant driving a drab, boring car but the 2013 Ford Fusion SE is a clear example that those days are long gone – with a ton of amenities and a drivetrain that makes the Fusion efficient and fun to drive.


The Ford Fusion has been a very popular model since being introduced in the US market back in 2005 but with the introduction of the newest generation Fusion for the 2013 model year, Ford has redesigned the Fusion to offer a whole new kind of driving experience. This Fusion has a big roomy interior that is packed full of high tech gadgets, an exterior design that is both sporty and luxurious and a drivetrain that is super efficient while still being fun to drive.

While most of the test cars that I drive are top of the line trims with every option possible, my 2013 Ford Fusion SE came about as lightly equipped as possible with the only options being the SE Appearance Package ($985) and a Reverse Sensing System ($295) for a total price of just $26,590. This includes the 1.6L EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed manual transmission.

The Exterior
Since being introduced, the exterior design of the 2013 Ford Fusion has been accused of looking too much like an Aston Martin and while critics use that comment as a shot against the new Fusion, I have a hard time seeing how it is bad for this sub-$27,000 to be compared to a luxury sedan lineup. This Evos design language was introduced with this Fusion and while the look has expanded to many other vehicles in the Ford brand lineup, the Fusion really wears the look the best of any models with a similar look. Don’t get me wrong – I like the look of the current Focus and Fiesta but in my opinion the Fusion is the only car that wears the Evos design so luxuriously. The past Fusions have looked like affordable midsized sedans while this new Fusion looks like a far more upscale vehicle and honestly, I love the exterior design of the new Fusion.

The front end of the 2013 Ford Fusion SE has a very aggressive look with sharply angled headlights that make this midsized sedan look mean while the projection headlights provide a more upscale look – an effort which is continued with the generous amounts of silver trim on the large upper grille opening, in the headlight bezels and around the fog lights. The SE Appearance package adds some sharp looking 18 inch 5-spoke alloy wheels and a rear decklid spoiler and while these features are subtle – the go a long way in making the Fusion look like a higher end sedan.

Along the sides, the 2013 Ford Fusion has a long and low design that gives it a very sleek form (adding to the Aston Martin-esque feel) while also affording this midsized sedan excellent aerodynamic properties. There is very little chrome with almost all of the features of the vehicle finished in the same Deep Impact Blue exterior paint as the rest of the body with the only silver trim being found along the bottom of the windows. I really like the look of this dark metallic blue with the silver wheels and the black window trim as it comes together to make a very sporty, classy sedan.

Out back, the 2013 Ford Fusion SE has a fairly subdued style but with a low profile rear spoiler, huge LED taillights and a rear fascia that extends well down towards the ground, this is a very sporty back end. I do wish that the SE Appearance Package came with the rear Titanium rear fascia with the integrated exhaust tips but this isn’t a bad looking rear end…it’s just not quite as sporty as the more expensive models.

The midsize sedan segment has long been dominated by fairly bland vehicles but the 2013 Ford Fusion puts buyers all of the upsides of the segment in a great looking package that stands out from the crowd – Aston Martin looking or not.

The Interior
The Ford Fusion SE does not come with the fancy MyFord Touch infotainment system and honestly, this is one of the first Ford Motor Company vehicles Ive tested in many moons that didn’t have the system. As a big fan of the MyFord setup, I missed it but the lack of the high tech dash gadgets gave me a chance to experience what those who don’t want MyFord get in their new Fusion. There are still a ton of features on the leather wrapped steering wheel include buttons for the cruise control, the sound system, the hands free phone system and the driver’s information enter but in lieu of the fancy touch screen system, my Fusion SE test car featured a sound system and HVAC system with good ol fashioned buttons and knobs. The sound system is centered around a small screen with easy to use buttons arranged along the sides of that screen and along the bottom with large knobs for the volume and tuning control. Below the sound system is a very basic HVAC system with an array of buttons and two more large knobs so those prospective new car buyers who want to avoid modern infotainment technology – this package should be just about perfect. As someone who likes that high tech interior feel, I did miss it but I also appreciate the simplicity of these controls and for a “base” sound system, I was pleased with the sound quality.

Where the interior of the 2013 Ford Fusion shines the brightest is in spaciousness as there is a TON of room in the front and rear seats where other cars in this class frequently fall very short. The front seats offer lots of leg, knee, hip, shoulder and head room but two large front passengers may find themselves jockeying for position on the smallish center armrest. More impressively, even with the front seats adjusted to accommodate a very tall driver and passenger, there is still a ton of leg and knee room for those seated in the rear and that is something that is getting increasingly hard to find. As is the case with most cars, I wasn’t impressed with the center rear seat but this is a great car to get four adults from point A to point B in comfort and in style. The Fusion is one of the few cars of this size that should really be recognized for offering lots of rear passenger space while still leaving plenty of space for the driver and front passenger AND having a huge trunk that will fit tons of cargo for a long car trip or a serious shopping trip.

In addition to offering lots of space, both the front and rear seats of the 2013 Fusion are nicely padded and very comfortable with the rear seats almost having a bucket seat form with the location of the padding. The front seats have deep side bolsters and significant hip bolsters and while they are as deep out back, this rear seat snugs to the body much better than your average sedan. Cloth seats are standard (leather is optional) but as cloth seats go, the seats of the SE Appearance Package with black cloth and red accent stitching really look great whereas many cars in this class look very cheap when equipped with cloth seats.

The 2013 Ford Fusion SE won’t blow you away with pricey high tech gadgets (which are still available) butt with plush, comfortable cloth seats and gobs of passenger space, this is a great car for a family of four or anyone who spends lots of time with rear riding passengers as this is one of the roomiest cars in the segment when it comes to keeping those folks in the back seat comfortable.

The Drive
My 2013 Ford Fusion SE test car was fitted with the mid level 1.6L EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 182 horsepower and 184lb-ft of torque to the front wheels via a proper manual transmission. This isn’t the largest or most powerful option in the Fusion engine lineup but it is one of the more efficient options with expected figures of 25mpg around town, 37mpg on the highway and 26mpg combined. I also feel that this drivetrain option is the most entertaining to drive as, while the 1.6L EcoBoost has far less power than the larger 2.0L EcoBoost, the manual transmission makes driving this car much more engaging than letting a slush box do the work for you. I understand that a great many American drivers cannot drive a manual transmission but for those who can, the Ford Fusion with the 1.6L EcoBoost and the manual transmission is the best drivetrain option in my opinion. The ability to bang gears makes this car far more entertaining and it really helps you forget about the fact that there is a more powerful engine option so if you can drive a stick shift and you want a mixture of fun to drive factor and fuel economy – the 1.6L EcoBoost and manual transmission should be your #1 choice when buying a new Fusion.

Now, in regard to those lofty fuel economy numbers of the 2013 Ford Fusion SE with the 1.6L EcoBoost, I was able to average just a tick under the expected 26mpg combined figure but I admit that I drove the car harder than would most people. While the previous Fusion Sport offered some fun to drive factor, I really found the 2013 Fusion to be a blast to drive so I found myself driving it more like a sports car than like a midsized sedan and in all fairness – the Fusion didn’t seem to struggle to be driven like that. When I drove the car reasonably on the highway, I was easily capable of hitting that 37mpg highway number and I suspect that someone driving specifically for the purpose of getting better MPGs, getting closer to 40mpg with some proper driving techniques shouldn’t be out of the question in the right driving situations.

In my experiences with older cars in this segment, they were generally higher riding vehicles that didn’t handle well and didn’t offer much ride quality but the 2013 Ford Fusion offers solid handling capabilities and very enjoyable ride qualities. Whether you are cruising around local roads or soaring along the highway, the ride is smooth and quiet with very little of the road noise transferring through the chassis and into the cabin. Mind you, this Fusion won’t handle like a Taurus SHO or Mustang GT but for a midsized sedan that is not some sort of performance model – the Fusion handles well in both tight quarters and in high speed situations on the highway. The steering is quick and responsive but it feels like a sedan with responsive steering quality and not a sport sedan that requires you to put a ton of effort into just turning the wheel. Acceleration – both from a stop and when already moving as in a passing situation – is sharp with just a touch of hesitation from the EcoBoost 1.6L engine but when the tiny turbo has spooled up, the Fusion pulls hard through all of the gears with enough power to chirp the tires on hard shifts.

The 2013 Ford Fusion SE with the 1.6L EcoBoost and the 6-speed manual transmission option is not the most powerful drivetrain configuration but it is the most efficient non-hybrid model and in my opinion, this is the most entertaining of the 2013 Fusion drivetrains. Add to that powerful and efficient drivetrain a chassis and suspension setup that provides a smooth ride and responsible handling and you have a car that redefines what the midsized sedan segment is all about. No more does driving an inexpensive and efficient midsized sedan mean a boring driving experience and the new Fusion is a glowing example of that shift in the segment.

The Final Word
The 2013 Ford Fusion is bigger and better than the previous Fusion in every way with an exterior design that looks like a far pricier vehicle and honestly, the critics could say much worse things about the Fusion than “it looks like an Aston Martin”. Provided that you don’t mind driving a $27,000 car that looks like a $100,000 car, the exterior design of the 2013 Fusion is a bold display of Ford’s efforts to offer cars that look and feel like a far more expensive vehicle. The Fusion has tons of interior space, a comfortable ride and a drivetrain that makes this car both efficient and very fun to drive so if you are in the market for an inexpensive midsized sedan that won’t force you into a coma out of boredom while driving – the 2013 Fusion should most certainly be on your test drive list before making your next new car purchase.

The Ford Fusion has been one of the bestselling cars in America for several years and this upscale new Fusion should keep that trend alive into the future while also giving Ford its best chance of knocking off the Toyota Camry.

This 2013 Ford Fusion SE review is updated on May 11, 2018.