The once-popular Ford Fusion nameplate appeared to be heading off to the great junkyard in the sky last year as the automaker set off to eliminate its passenger car line-up, but it may soon make a comeback.
Images leaked out on Instagram show what appears to be an all-new version of the Fusion, albeit this time in in crossover form that, some are speculating, will be dubbed the Fusion Active. The images, along with insider tips, suggest it will fall somewhere between a classic CUV body style and a conventional wagon, on the order of the Subaru Outback or the short-lived Buick Regal TourX.
The exact source of four images, three showing partial exterior details, the last a bit of the interior, have been circulating online after originating on some Chinese websites. But rumors of a Fusion revival have been out there since even before Ford finally shut down U.S. production of the midsize Fusion sedan last August.
If all this proves accurate, we can expect to see the Fusion Active come to the U.S. market in the next couple years — though it may make its initial debut in Europe under the Mondeo badge used for the sedan outside of the States.
There’s no question that the crossover market is hot. According to IHS Markit, utility vehicles, overall, could account for 55% of the new products sold in the U.S. this year. But products in the nether world between wagons and CUVs have been a mixed bag: the Outback a consistent seller, the TourX never gaining serious traction.
Beyond the tall wagon exterior, the single interior shot reveals a high-tech focus, starting with a dashboard that is all but entirely covered by video screens. While there’s no way to get the measuring tape out, the displays appear to cover nearly as much territory as in the latest-generation Cadillac Escalade, and only slightly less than in the Byton M-byte prototype that debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show last January.
Like automakers in general, Ford has been growing the size of the screens in its latest vehicles, the new Mustang Mach-E being the best example. But that laptop computer-sized display doesn’t come near to covering as much real estate. One is left wondering how even the latest version of the Ford Sync entertainment system would be used to fill up such a large display setup. Then again, Ford has suggested it could use its in-car displays to deliver entertainment — at a price.
There is also the possibility that what we’re looking at is a concept vehicle, rather than the final production model. Massive video displays have become the hot design element of the moment, much like all-glass roofs and sideview cameras were a few years back.
As far as powertrains are concerned, speculation centers around several options, including a version of the 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 offered in the latest Ford Escape. But several electrified packages also appear to be in the works, including one using a 2.5-liter gas engine eschewing conventional turbochargers in favor of twin electric motors. All-wheel drive is a certainty, though the hybrid system is likely to for a through-the-road AWD layout with no connecting driveshaft.
Chances are the Ford Fusion/Mondeo Active will debut late in 2022 or even early 2023. It would not just fill a gap left by the demise of the Fusion but also flesh out the automaker’s broad SUV line-up.