Great Job Ford!!!!

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May 25, 2005

Fusion marches past Camry
Ford's power, fit and finish trump Toyota's warhorse
Anita and Paul Lienert / Special to The Detroit News

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.


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.

Winner: Tie

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


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.

Winner: Fusion

The Fusion's interior was luxe and refined...

...while the Camry's assembly was surprisingly slipshod.

The Fusion's cabin is upholstered in rich perforated leather.

The midlevel 2007 Camry SE's interior features cloth seats and few amenities.

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.

Winner: Fusion


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.

Winner: Fusion


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.

Winner: Camry


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
All of that may be fine except the powertain comments...

"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."

Is not an acceptable metric to me... What about maintenance costs? maintainability? lifecycle costs?

And by the way, there is a LARGE difference between 33 MPG and 29 MPG.. or 24 MPG and 21 MPG over the ownership term of the vehicle.

While a decent article, I can tell that there is a bit of a spin, as if I knew who was going to win before I even read it.

Toyotas have never had the best seat fabrics... durable as all get out, but not ever very nice (maybe the newer models have more plush fabric?)... I think of our old corolla and even our previa... no plushnesson it at all. It gives the fabric its longevity, but also a low quality feel... I prefer MB-tex vinyl or equivalent anyway.

I wouldnt buy either car, but the fusion 4cyl MT would be my choice over the camry... but thats just IMO.

Just out of curiousity, why would they compare the Fusion's V6 to the Camry's I4? Why not compare it to the Camry's 268hp V6?

Perhaps the Camry would cost more, but as it stands, the Fusion costs nearly $1,400 more. For that much more money, you could probably get close to a V6 Camry.
Kudos to Ford. They finally won one. I've always owned domestic cars 50/50 split of Ford and Chrysler. However, I take this article with a grain of salt. It came from Detroit News. They better pick Ford! You'll probably never find this outcome in any auto magazine. Next, they compared V6 Fusion to 4-banger Camry. For $23,600, you can buy a 268 HP V6 Camry. I am surprised of the interior quality. They even got the Fusion model wrong in the closing paragraph: "SLE"?

...and 3-4 MPG DOES make a differnce.
agreed... since they make powertrain out to be such a huge deal... why not apples to apples on the powrtrain, and bash the camry for gadget content at an equivalent price??? Seems it would be a better match.

It's an interesting way to spin a car comparo, but I really prefer apples be compared to apples. Both V6s or both I4s, please. A Z28 Camaro used to be a couple grand more than a Mustang would it be more equitable to compare a strippo Mustang GT to a loaded V6 Camaro? Not quite a fair, unbiased article but I'm glad the Fusion did well.
They should drive both for 100k miles and then do a comparison.

Why not compare equals like the V6 Camry vs the V6 Fusion, or the 4cyl Fusion vs the above Camry?
Or vehicles with 'like' interiors? Lets see how the base Fusion interior compares to the Camry, or how the Camry leather compares to the above Fusion?

What fit/finish issues?

EPA numbers are a joke. How about driving them in the real world, and see how they compare?

I'll bump this thread in 5 years to compare the 'resale values', and the collection of TSB's and recalls on both vehicles!
edited: no point in posting: Camry (boring) and Accord (boring) fans will never change the song.
Ford does make some nice vehicles. I personally think they styling of the Fusion is way too gaudy, but that's just my opinion.

There are so many differences in saftey equipment, engine size, interior trim, etc, its hard to guage which is the better value.

The Fusion is already $1300 more as tested, add in the saftey equipment the Camry comes with and you're up to over $2000 difference.

I'm not sure I see a bigger engine and 15% worse fuel economy as a plus for the Fusion.

The poor fit and finish on the Camry is disappointing but doesn't seem so uncommon anymore with Toyota. I think American-assembled cars have definiitely equalled or surpassed the imports here. Ineresting that the Fusion was put together in Mexico. I have to admit I would have reservations about that.
That type of comparo only offers a value equation....Great, what if I can't afford / don't want a V6 Fusion? What if nothing with a 4-cylinder interests me? As a consumer I think I deserve to know how equally outfitted cars compare to each other. This wasn't a good way to offer engineering or performance comparisons. Some of us are just as interested in performance as value.

Flip Over & Read Directions. Are we forgetting the Tempo and Focus here? In all fairness, the only Ford I have ever driven has been the Crown Vic and I have had no complaints. It got me home safe every night.

Toyota has had it's fair share of winners but they usually learn from their mistakes.

That is the other key metric that the article leaves out. If the Fusion turns out to be reliable like the late 80s/early 90s Taurus, Ford should have a winner.
I've driven the prev-gen Camry and a new Sienna and was pretty disappointed by the powertrain - the transmission shifted (not very crisply) at odd moments and the engines revved sluggishly. I was unimpressed. I put 100k miles on a '90 stick shift Camry, so it's not like I have anything against the brand. If I were to be in the market for a mid-size 'family' sedan (and didn't buy a Saab 9-5 for some unfathomable reason ;-) ) the two I'd be looking at would be the Hyundai Sonata and the Ford Fusion - they seem to offer very good value and I like the garishness of the Ford. Something a little different, you know?
At my suggestion, my daughter looked at both of these cars recently but ended up with the Camry. I'm not sure why since I didn't go along with her, but it might have been her former membership in the Ford Taurus Recall of the Month Club...
Is the Fusion offered in an I-4?? If not ..and the Camry is its target market ..all the rest of the stuff is inconsequential. It may be a money pit or a gas guzzler or a maintenance nightmare ..but it's leading in its target market
They didn't say that it deserved to be there (alright ..they lied and made up stuff to explain why).
Here is a much more in-depth comparison from the well-respected of four new family sedans. The Fusion finished dead last.

Consider this snippet:

"In truth, however, after the first five minutes behind the wheel of the all-new 2007 Camry, each evaluator came away with the same impression: "This is a Camry?" Every so often, an automaker produces something so extraordinary that it manages to not only eclipse its own predecessor, but also succeeds in making the competition appear obsolete.

One might expect this scenario from, say, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche or Ferrari, but not from Toyota. Small, measured steps are what we've grown to expect from the Asian manufacturer. Toyota, it seems, has found its mojo. The company has tapped into a new, more confident, riskier and more rewarding future as a result.

If this is the kind of progression we should now anticipate when Toyota replaces an old model with a new one, then we'll need to recalibrate our expectations for future redesigns — and so should everybody else."

Here is the link to the first page of the comparison> Be sure to click on the individual menu items at the left side of the page to read the full article:

Edmunds Comparison
yes, DOHC 2.3L I4... can even get it with MT and about 32 MPG (poor MPG all things considered compared to similar cars, but at least its in the thirties)

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