DN Family Sedan Comparo - Ford Fusion Marches Past Toyota Camry

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 4, 2006.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Ford's power, fit and finish trump Toyota's warhorse

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    The brash and sporty Fusion makes a statement with its bold styling.

    ANN ARBOR -- When we decided to stage the definitive showdown between two of the top family sedans in North America, our choices quickly narrowed to the newest and most popular designs on the market: The 2006 Ford Fusion and the 2007 Toyota Camry.

    The historic battle in this segment between Ford and Toyota, which dates back nearly two decades, has been so fierce that when the Taurus edged the Camry for the U.S. sales crown one year, Ford's public-relations department hired a marching band to trumpet that fact up and down Jefferson Avenue.

    Our premise for this historic rematch was simple: If you're a family of modest means, with about $25,000 to spend on some new everyday wheels, which car offers the best value?

    With the all-new Fusion supplanting the Taurus for model year 2006 and the long-lived Camry (the reigning sales champ) getting a major redesign for 2007, one of the two rivals is about ready to strike up the band once again.

    The '06 Fusion starts at $17,795, including shipping. We tested a top-of-the-line Fusion SEL with lots of equipment and a sticker price of $25,650. The '07 Camry is priced from $18,850. We drove a midrange Camry LE with a modest number of extras and a bottom line of $24,266.

    Exterior

    Bold. In your face. And very, very American. The Fusion boasts a distinctive exterior that Ford designers like to refer to as "go-Daddy" -- shorthand for hip and edgy. With its big chrome grille, flanked by wrapover headlamps, and other Ford family styling cues, Fusion has a brash and sporty personality that has struck a responsive chord with buyers since its debut last fall.

    The redesigned Camry adopts precisely the opposite tack. In a dramatic stylistic departure from its bland predecessor, the '07 model takes a huge step upmarket. Now, the Camry looks an awful lot like a little Lexus, not a garden-variety family schlepper, with a new elegance and sophistication that the Fusion lacks.

    Depending on your personal taste, this one's a toss-up.

    Interior

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    The Fusion's cabin is upholstered in rich perforated leather. The midlevel 2007 Camry SE's interior features cloth seats and few amenities. The Fusion's interior was luxe and refined . . while the Camry's assembly was surprisingly slipshod

    Oddly enough, where the Toyota had the more luxurious exterior, Ford came up with a ritzier cabin.

    The Camry LE was outfitted in a very subtle two-tone interior scheme, with cloth seats and not a lot of amenities. Considering that the base Camry starts at under $19,000, we were surprised that the midlevel LE model didn't seem that much fancier, especially considering the $24,000-plus sticker on our test vehicle.

    Moreover, we were startled, and disappointed, by the less-than-sterling assembly quality on our test Camry, which was actually built in Japan, and not in Toyota's huge assembly plant in Georgetown, Ky. Regardless of location, there is no excuse for the poor trim fits we encountered inside our test vehicle -- especially not in a segment that's as competitive as this, and certainly not with the golden reputation for quality that Toyota has enjoyed for so many years.

    The Fusion, on the other hand, proved to be a pleasant surprise, with an upscale cabin upholstered in rich perforated leather, with handsome piano-black trim. The pieces fit together neatly (the Fusion is assembled in Mexico), and there were enough standard and optional features to give you the impression of driving a near-luxury vehicle.

    Ride & handling

    Handling tends to be a fairly subjective issue, and it often takes a back seat to ride quality among family buyers. Both our test sedans displayed a very comfortable ride that should be quite acceptable to most shoppers in this segment.

    When it comes to agility and maneuverability, however, the Fusion has a clear edge over the Camry. While most midsize family sedans feel neutral, if not a little soggy, in terms of handling, the Fusion is crisp and lively, sharing a delightful nimbleness with its cousin, the Mazda6 (both cars employ a common underbody). It's certainly no BMW, but enthusiasts will appreciate the more sporting flavor of the Ford over Toyota's middle-of-the-road approach.

    Powertrain

    Between our two test vehicles, the Fusion was the clear winner in this department, by virtue of the fact that it offered two more cylinders, one more transmission gear and 63 more horsepower, for not much more money.

    While a DOHC 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine is standard in the base model, our range-topping Fusion SEL was equipped with a responsive twin-cam 3.0-liter V-6 that delivers an ample 221 horsepower and comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

    In comparison, our Camry LE was fitted with a very sturdy DOHC 2.4-liter I-4 and smooth-shifting five-speed automatic. The Toyota four-cylinder engine makes 158 horsepower -- perfectly adequate for everyday driving, but nowhere near as quick and powerful as the Ford V-6.

    Moreover, the Camry's fuel economy isn't much better than the Fusion's. The EPA ratings on our test Camry LE were 24 mpg in city driving and 33 on the highway; the Fusion SEL was rated at 21 and 29 -- very respectable figures for a V-6 with automatic.

    Safety

    You have to pay extra for most of the safety equipment on the Fusion, even the high-line SEL. Side air bags and side curtains are part of a $595 package; antilock brakes cost $595 and traction control adds $95.

    Virtually all that gear comes standard on the Camry LE, including ABS, side air bags and curtains, plus a driver's knee air bag, which is something you'd expect to see on the more expensive Lexus models. Traction control comes bundled with stability control for an extra $650.

    Summary

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    Considering the $1,384 price difference between our two test vehicles, the Fusion SLE seemed to offer so much more than the Camry LE, in terms of engine size and performance, as well as creature comforts and -- most surprising of all -- assembly quality.

    Overall Winner: Ford Fusion


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  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    God the Camry is just a frumpy, fat, lump of a car.
     
  3. TigreTek

    TigreTek omega member OT Supporter

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    how much more would a v6 powered camry have cost?
     
  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    LE Styles (MSRP: $20,500)
    4dr Sedan Auto. 2.4L 4cyl
    LE V6 Styles (MSRP: $23,040)
    4dr Sedan Auto. 3.5L 6cyl
     
  5. Crunks

    Crunks Active Member

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    And yet no one would buy it :hs:
     
  6. God of Gamblers

    God of Gamblers OT Supporter

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    The Fusion's front lights are from the 97-00' prelude, and the tails are from the 93-96' prelude. lolz :rofl:
     
  7. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Actually people are buying it, can't say it's surprising.
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Looks better than the Jap car, lolz.
     
  9. Crunks

    Crunks Active Member

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    Really? I hope this marks Ford's turn around and they start producing some more quality cars. Although I haven't paid much attention to them lately.
     
  10. itslackers

    itslackers New Member

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    Fusion > Camry
     
  11. BLKDVLGSX

    BLKDVLGSX OT Supporter

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    i'll take a slammed mercury milan
     
  12. TigreTek

    TigreTek omega member OT Supporter

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    so why didn't they do a v6 vs v6 comparison?
     
  13. herpes

    herpes OT Supporter

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    harder and harder to dislike ford nowadays..

    the new lincolns are pretty nice lookin too.. so is mercury.
     
  14. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    It's a nice car, it's got some style, it's bargain priced, and it's getting 250hp next year. Ford might be onto something. :noes:
     
  15. Crunks

    Crunks Active Member

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    The girl in the Mercury commercials :eek5:
     
  16. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Our premise for this historic rematch was simple: If you're a family of modest means, with about $25,000 to spend on some new everyday wheels, which car offers the best value?

    You have $25k to spend, this is what $25k gets you from Ford and Toyota. Ford offers much more car for the money, basically the same thing Hyundai has been doing for years.
     
  17. Derek

    Derek OT Supporter

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    Looks much better than the Taurus it replaced. I'd still never buy another Ford :down:
     
  18. Balzak

    Balzak New Member

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    specs on V-6 Camry?
     
  19. Foo

    Foo Could I have been anyone other than me?

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    while i agree with the results, it is a bit skewed as the news is from detroit.. :mamoru:
     
  20. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Their papers always run negative headlines of the Big Three. Just like the rest of the US media. :hsugh:
     
  21. B_O_T

    B_O_T Calcio Italiano ftw

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    not rly
     
  22. butuh

    butuh New Member

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    Hmmm.... Detroit News
     
  23. YoSmoovKid

    YoSmoovKid New Member

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    Nice Comparison :hsugh:
     
  24. ragnarok

    ragnarok nuclear launch detected

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  25. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    ya rly :naughty:
     

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