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Roadfly Magazine
Chip Foose, Scion tC, VW Phaeton, Mothers, Lidatek, Ultimate Ears
Issue Sixteen
February 25, 2005
Chip Foose & The OverHaulin' Crew
Seven Cars to Watch for 2005
Mothers® Waxes Polishes Cleaners
2005 Scion tC
2004 Volkswagen Phaeton W12
Lidatek LaserECHO LE-30 Laser Jammer
Ultimate Ears:
In-ear Monitors
Porsche Cayman
Spy Photos
Coming Next Issue
Geneva Auto Show
Porsche 911 S
Spring Cleaning
Hot Lap
Seven Cars to Watch in 2005:
Quick Reviews & Previews (continued)

2006 Ford Fusion

A larger version of the Mazda6 chassis provides the platform for the Fusion

2006 Lincoln Zephyr: famous name revived for the new Lincoln

2006 Lincoln Zephyr includes many new standard features

Official Web site:
Ford Motor Company
2006 Ford Fusion & Lincoln Zephyr

The new Ford Fusion, and its Lincoln Zephyr sedan sibling, make the same promise as the Five Hundred. That is, to appeal to the yearning masses while helping regain market share lost in the aftermath of Ford's self-proclaimed 'Year of the Car.'

Some have chosen to knock the FoMoCo brands these days, pointing to perennially declining sales and yawn-inspiring product. But remember, the Blue Oval Boys are the guys who've brought us what might be the ultimate performance bargain, the sub-$25K Mustang GT, the bar-raising F150, and the awe-inspiring GT. So while conventional wisdom says last year's Five Hundred might have missed the mark--appealing largely to geriatrics and golfers who appreciate the five-golf-bag trunk capacity--we think the Fusion and Zephyr will succeed.

After all, while we haven't driven the sedans in question, we have driven the Mazda6, which donates its platform and drivetrain wholly to the new midsizer. A slight wheelbase stretch means the Ford and Lincoln variants are more America-sized.

Exterior styling is some of the best we've seen from any domestic maker in a while. The Fusion, originally the "Futura" until Ford realized Pep Boys trademarked the moniker for a brand of tires, is based on the 427 concept car shown at auto shows around the country. Thankfully, the best elements of the concept, including the sleek shape, jeweled lights, and brightwork, were spared from beancounters and focus groups. The Zephyr takes the sleek theme even further, and is probably the best-looking Lincoln in several years.

Motivation will be familiar to Mazda6 owners as well. The Fusion shares the 160-
horsepower 2.3-liter four and the optional 210hp, 3.0L V6; while the Zephyr, in keeping with its upscale intentions, delivers the six as standard. Both engines are enthusiast favorites, if not for raw power, then for smoothness and responsiveness. Unfortunately, only the four is available with a manual transmission; the V6 is mated to a six-speed automatic.

The interior has a classy and durable feel, with materials that are on par with the Five Hundred's. Quality finally seems to have become the watchword at Ford. Folks trading in Tauruses for Fusions will feel like they've stepped into another world--or at least another brand's dealership.

Ford invested in safety technology for the Fusion and Zephyr, both of which feature dual-stage airbags, energy-absorbing seatbelts, load-limiting retractors, and enhanced crumple zones. An optional all-wheel-drive system is promised within a year of the fall launch, and a hybrid powertrain is also promised.

The new Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr look to be winners, at a time when both brands sorely need good product. We look forward to our first test drives and expect that if the experience lives up to the platform's promise, we'll be impressed. The Fusion and Zephyr, as well as their Mercury Montego twin, should turn out to be appealing cars that will stanch the flow of customers to foreign brands while at last fulfilling the promise inherent in Ford's 'Year of the Car' pledge.

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