Driving the new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is almost like a video game. Not a racing video game where you want to scream around corners, but rather a simple, but addictive, cell phone game. You see, in the gauges cluster, there is a vine with leaves on it. The more efficiently you drive, the more the vine grows and the more leaves show up. If you start making quick starts and hammering the gas pedal, the leaves start to fall. There’s no high scores list or anything like that, but you’d be amazed at how quickly you adapt your driving to maintain the leaves. Oh, yeah. The rest of the car is pretty nice, as well.
Other hybrid cars have fancy meters and lots of numbers that tell you how efficiently you’re driving, but none of those systems is as simple and effective as the leaves. The best part about the whole system, though, is that the way you drive in orrder to maintain efficiency can transfer over to other cars. The gradual accelerations and responsible speeds will make anyy car burn less fuel, not only hybrids. So, in essence, the leaves are not only a great motivator while driving the Fusion Hybrid, but also great training for driving efficiently in other vehicles. That’s an incredible effect for a simple animated vine.
The leaves are part of an ingenious gauges display. In the days of hybrids and advanced electronics, the simple fuel gauges, speedometer, and temperature gauge are no longer sufficient. Ford’s information system, dubbed VIRTTEX, does a good job of taking all sorts of disparate information (like battery charge, all-electric-drive capabilities, etc.) and making it simple to digest. The whole system helps drivers get the most out of their fuel. An attentive driver can use this display to squeeze another 7-9 mpg when driving in the city. Not bad at all.
For the most part, this write-up has focused on the Efficiency Leaves and the gauge cluster. The reason for this is that the rest of the car is pretty much what you’d expect from a mid-size sedan. It’s comfortable, but doesn’t have the spacious cabin in large sedans. It has over 300 combined horsepower, but with the superb balance between electric and gasoline drive, not to mention your following the Efficiency Leaves, you won’t be driving for thrills with this car. In short, this is an above average mid-size sedan that is made excellent by the innovative gauge cluster. The only real downside is that the higway gas mileage is about 36. Better than most of the vehicles on the road today, but considering how advanced the interface and gauges are, one would almost expect it to be 70.