2014 Ford Fusion


2014 Ford Fusion SE
$23,935 base MRSP
22/34 MPG (advertised)
xxxTBD MPG (real-world, over a week of driving)

Overall Impressions:

Interestingly, I’m now driving my second Ford Fusion–and as before I’m driving it back-to-back vs. a Hyundai Sonata. Last time I drove the Ford first. This time I drove the Hyundai first, and frankly it’s been an interesting comparison, and frankly the Hyundai is the better car (as much as I hate to say that Ford).

As before, I’ll amend my last review and add new comments as appropriate, but I can already tell you I miss last week’s Hyundai.

Now, as I said in my last review of the Fusion, I always liked the way the Fusion looked. It’s a nice design, and the Fusion doesn’t strike me as looking like everything else on the road (one of the complaints I have with the Sonata’s styling). The Fusion looks the part.

But after that, it falls short–there’s no substance there. The Fusion is just a pretty face on an uninspired chassis. Such a pity.

Last time I asked myself if I would I buy one? And I thought it’d be a tough choice as the Fusion just isn’t compelling.

This time, it’s an easy choice–I’d buy the Hyundai.

TMS (Tall Man’s Score): B-

Headroom: B

Headroom was acceptable with the seat down. But to make the seat comfortable (and so you didn’t feel like you were sitting in a bucket) you had to raise the seat. Consequently, you lose the headroom you could have had. What were you thinking Ford?

As I re-read the last review’s comments above, I remember thinking this morning as I got in the Fusion “It’s like I’m sitting in a trashcan”–very uncomfortable, but that’s needed here in order to get sufficient headroom.

Dropping the score a bit because of this–it would be really hard to live with over the long term.

Mirror Location: A-

The mirror location was acceptable. But again because you have to raise the seat to be comfortable, it brings the mirror into your line of vision.

Headrest: B+

I didn’t feel as if the headrest was as bad this time. Still only a B+ though, as you know it’s “there”.

Legroom: D

Good legroom–but–there is a huge “bump” in the floorboard by the seat. What this means is that you can’t pull you leg back for a rest without it hitting that bump.

Above are my comments from the last review, and today I also noticed that “bump” in the floorboard. It really is that intrusive into your experience.

Just a bad design choice.

Seat Comfort: D+

The seats are schizophrenic. If you have them adjusted so they’re reasonably comfortable, you bring the mirror into play, and lose headroom.

If you adjust them for visibility, they become quite uncomfortable.

And that lumbar support is way too low–again, probably a perfect position if you’re 5′ 6″ but for someone over six foot the lumbar support is a pain in the back.

Again, I’m sticking to my comments from last time, and once again I noticed how bad the lumbar support is–it pokes you in just the “wrong” place (and consequently you can’t use it at all).

Why manufacturers don’t make the lumbar support able to move vertically as well as horizontally is beyond me–it’s a simple fix.

 Vehicle Review

Engine: D+

It’s borderline. Just not enough power to be comfortable. Maybe hampered a bit by a slow-shifting transmission, but my gut says they put in an anemic engine to try and get better fuel mileage.

Unfortunate, as a better engine/tranny would really make this car shine.

I was too kind last time (above). Compared to the Sonata this thing is a slow pig. Awful. A car for soccer moms and secretaries (but not for anyone that might enjoy driving).

Transmission: D

Slow shifting, and felt sluggish and mushy, with manual shift was via a button on the stalk (Ford didn’t even think about anyone wanting to use manual mode–having a button there is just an afterthought, as so the marketing guys can say “yeah, we have it”–but it’s awful. Really.)

Other sedans have better trannys, some even with paddle shifters (as much as I hate those, at least those offering them are making an attempt at appearing sporty).

Such a disappointment.

Interior: B-

Clean interior, and nice looking.

Controls were mostly manual, but there are a lot of separate buttons, with no tactile way to tell them apart.

What this means is that you have to take your eyes off the road to change functions (not a good thing). This is one of my pet peeves with respect to automotive safety.

Center console has a strange configuration. Nice deep cubbyhole for your “stuff” but they left the sides open (presumably for “style”) but it allows your stuff to fall out the sides into the footwells.

Maybe I was a bit too harsh here–upgrading this score. I like the Ford interior a bit more (although I still don’t like the non-tactile buttons). Still, the interior feels more elegant and refined than the Sonata’s.

Visibility: C-

Decent visibility, but hurt by those huge A pillars–again, they’re there for “safety” but they compromise visibility, which is a larger safety issue.

I suppose when you get in an accident because you didn’t see another vehicle because of the A pillars that they’ll protect you in the subsequent roll-over…but wouldn’t it be better to have avoided the accident in the first place?

And as with most cars today, fuel mileage has made the extremely low nose “fashionable” and consequently you have no idea where the front of the car is, and “park by feel” is the ultimate result.

(Note to self: Don’t park any classic cars in front of a Ford Fusion, as that driver will be sure to bump you on their way out of the parking spot!)

Once again, my previous comments stand–those A pillars are awful. I notice them every time I get in the car, and frankly I do think they are unsafe.

Ford–you’ve got more homework to do.

Electronics: C

Again, basic transportation. No digital touchscreen. No backup camera.

And too many buttons and having to look down from the road.

Utility: B

Basic transportation. Nothing more, no matter how nice the car looks.

Appearance: A

I have to say I love the look (especially the nose) of this car. Very nice design.

I still like the way this car looks. But other than that, it’s truly a disappointment.

 Miscellaneous Musings:

Unfortunate that this the car’s best feature is it’s appearance. No doubt it’ll sell because of it, but I suspect that buyers will soon move on to something else as there really isn’t much more to this car than a “pretty face”.

My previous comments are spot on. And I  have to say that I’m even more disappointed with this car the second time around. It truly was a car that could have been great. Maybe the demographics are targeted elsewhere, but for me the car epitomizes everything that is wrong with cars today–slow, sluggish, unrefined drivetrain, lacking in comfort–but cloaked in a pretty shell, and with a nice stereo and some electronics to keep the younger crowd happy.

But there’s no substance there–nothing. I really want to like this car, but the Sonata is better in almost every way.


2014 Hyundai Sonata


2014 Hyundai Sonata
$21,150 base MRSP (2015)
25/37 MPG (advertised)
20.9 MPG (real-world, over a week of driving–a bit lower than advertised, and quite a bit lower than the last time I drove one)

Overall Impressions:

This is the second time I’ve rented this care in the recent past, and it’ll be interesting to see if I like the car as much this time as I did previously. I’ll update the comments I made then, and we’ll see if the Sonata’s sores improve (or maybe drop).

I do continue to like this car. Has reasonable pickup, and visibility is reasonable.  Gas mileage was not as good as last time, but probably just due to more city driving.

Yet I still am lukewarm on the styling. It is indeed just like every other car on the market. It doesn’t pluck at the heartstrings, and in many ways, I wish it did.

TMS (Tall Man’s Score): B+

Headroom: B+

Headroom was acceptable. Nothing to shout home about, but my head wasn’t scraping the headliner. I do have to put the seat all the way down.

Mirror Location: A-

The mirror location was also acceptable. Still think there is room for improvement, but I could live with this.

Headrest: B+

Also not bad, but I still knew the headrest was there. Really wish they could just go back to normal headrests.

Legroom: B+

Didn’t feel legroom was an issue, but I’m still waiting for the car that makes me move the seat up to be comfortable (it hasn’t happened yet).

Seat Comfort: B

Good seats–wish the material was a bit better–had a cheap feel (and wondering if it will last) but the seat comfort was acceptable. Probably the biggest “wish it was better” item for me.

 Vehicle Review

Engine: B+

Gave this a bit of a higher score than last time. Maybe I had a better engine (certainly my gas mileage dropping indicates that, and they do have a couple of different engine choices…)

Transmission: B+

Better shifting than most. Also upgraded the score here from last time.

Sure wish the manual shift was set up “the right way” (push to downshift)

Interior: B

Basic interior. Wish there was more I could say–there isn’t.

Visibility: B

I’m seeing that with most cars now, the only way to get headroom is to put the seat all the way down. Then you no longer have any hope of seeing the nose (all the aerodynamics to save gas mileage no doubt) and with such a sloping nose you’re going to be “parking by feel”.

Electronics: C+

Again, basic transportation.

Utility: B

Just another econobox. Four doors and a trunk.

Appearance: C+

Line up the sedan offerings from Hyundai, Kia, Chevy, Nissan–bet you can’t tell most of them apart.

 Miscellaneous Musings:

Once again I liked this car. It did nothing really poorly (not enough to stand out anyway) although it did nothing exceptionally well either (and as I commented previously maybe scoring “average” on everything is a good thing?)

If I had to buy a sedan today, of all the cars I’ve driven this might be it–yet again, cars should inspire, and this one just doesn’t. As I said last time, I can’t see myself announcing with pride to my friends: “Hey–I just bought a Hyundai Sonata!”

That makes it tough to spend $21,000 on “just average”.

2014 Ford Taurus – FAIL


2014 Ford Taurus SE
$26,790 base MRSP

Overall Impressions: F

So I left the awful Jeep Grand Cherokee and was handed the keys to a Ford Taurus–which had just as bad of a rear view mirror.

You simply cannot drive this car with the mirror blocking your view. This car is unsafe.

TMS (Tall Man’s Score): F

How Ford can design so many good cars (like the Edge) and have such a poorly designed Ford Taurus is a mystery. But this thing is awful.

One more that, no matter what your height, you would be wise to spend a long test drive in the front seat to be sure the rear view mirror doesn’t interfere with your vision.

Terrible design.

Thankfully, the rental agency next gave me the keys to a Hyundai Sonata, which I’ve rented before (and which I knew had a reasonable rear view mirror).

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee – FAIL


2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
$29,895 base MRSP

Overall Impressions: F

It is truly amazing that a large, luxury SUV could be a fail, but here it is–the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Simply put, this is an unsafe vehicle. The rear-view mirror totally blocks the driver’s view out the center and right of the windscreen.

This is bad–really bad–in this car. It’s so bad that I suspect even drivers under 6′ would find visibility impaired.

Exchanged the car for a Ford Taurus–which also failed! A bad luck week at the rental agency.

TMS (Tall Man’s Score): F

It doesn’t get any worse than this–if you’re considering this SUV, no matter what your height, carefully assess whether the rear view mirror will work for you.

One of the worst rear view mirrors ever.