2017 Ford Fusion Platinum
The current Ford Fusion has proved eminently popular, with more than 300,000 sold in each of the past two years, offering audacious looks (for the segment, mind you), secure handling, and a good amount of technology. Thing is, the fetching four-door hasn’t proved to be terribly premium or overtly sporty, just reasonably good at being a mid-size Ford sedan. For 2017, Ford attempts to bring both traits to the lineup by adding two more Fusion trim levels: the new 325-hp Fusion Sport and the car reviewed here, the Fusion Platinum.
Basically a refreshed 2017 Fusion with the works, the Fusion Platinum blurs the line even further between the previous top-tier Fusion Titanium and the Fusion’s platform-mate, the Lincoln MKZ. While the exterior is available in metallic white, silver, charcoal, gold, burgundy, red, or black, the interior comes in any color you want as long as it’s cream and brown—or Ceramic and Cocoa in Ford-speak. There are no other significant choices except whether you want to pay $190 for rear-seatbelt airbags and which powertrain you prefer. The standard unit is the Fusion’s 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 270 lb-ft of torque, while the Fusion’s hybrid and plug-in-hybrid powertrains also are available. Additionally, all-wheel drive can be had as a $2000 upgrade with the standard engine.
The Platinum sure looks nice—at least it does in any color other than the bland “White Gold” of our test car. Building on the snappy LED head- and taillamps also found on 2017 Fusion SE, Titanium, and Sport models, the Platinum grade gets a black mesh grille outlined in chrome. A power sunroof also comes standard, while large, 19-inch polished wheels fill the Platinum’s wheel wells more substantively than the 18-inchers on the Titanium.
If you’d hoped for something glitzier like, say, the dressy Vignale version of the Fusion’s European clone, the Mondeo, you may be disappointed. After all, in Europe, where there are no Lincolns, the Mondeo is the most premium car Ford sells, so it pulls out all the stops, even giving Vignale customers a dedicated 24-hour support line, a “relationship manager,” and free car washes. Here, that stuff is reserved for Lincoln Black Label models.
It’s inside where the Fusion Platinum shines brightest. As with other Fusion models, the Platinum benefits from numerous ergonomic improvements for 2017, including a rotary gear selector, redesigned cupholders, a longer center armrest, and easier access to the storage cubbies below the center stack. As the range-topper, however, the Platinum comes loaded with pretty much everything Ford has, from the much-improved Sync 3 infotainment system with voice-activated navigation to heated and cooled seats, as well as a power tilting and telescoping steering column. Acoustic glass in the windshield and front side windows create a near-perfect environment to appreciate the fidelity of the 12-speaker Sony sound system even at triple-digit speeds, and the air conditioning blows colder than a Michigan winter. But the most striking feature of the Platinum is the aforementioned leather, copiously applied and thickly padded on the steering wheel and dashboard, with elegant diamond-stitch patterns on the doors and seats.
Given the dearth of mechanical changes in the car’s mid-cycle update, the all-wheel-drive Fusion Platinum drives much like the 2014 Fusion Titanium 2.0-liter EcoBoost we tested just 18 months ago, which also featured all-wheel drive. The 2017 Platinum feels quick and responsive, with the six-speed automatic shifting decisively in Sport mode, which is activated by pressing the “S” button in the center of the shifter dial. Other than the occasional harsh thwack from the suspension, attributable to the 19-inch wheels wearing 40-series Continental rubber, the Fusion Platinum proved a graceful creature. The steering is direct and communicative, and it feels more natural than that of the refreshed 2017 Ford Escape. The Platinum also comes standard with Ford’s lane-keeping-assist system that tugs the car—rather abruptly—back toward the center of its lane when the vehicle drifts over the line. Fortunately, as with the Escape, the system can be turned off.
The Fusion Platinum starts at $37,495, which may seem like a lot of coin for a Fusion, but checking all the option boxes to bring a Fusion Titanium up to Platinum spec costs $390 more, and the former doesn’t get the Platinum’s sweet padded-leather dashboard.
Classy and competent, the Platinum makes sense as a range-topper for the Fusion nameplate and as a profit generator for the Ford brand, and it is a convincingly nice vehicle overall. Indeed, when it arrives in dealerships this summer, the Platinum trim level will take the Fusion into territory where it has never competed before, against cars like the handsome new Buick LaCrosse. the Lexus ES. and the Lincoln MKZ. The big question now: Will the similarly updated Lincoln MKZ be better by enough of a margin to justify spending thousands more than the cost of the Fusion Platinum? We’ll let you know as soon as we drive the Lincoln, but there’s no doubt the gap between the two is as close as it’s ever been.