For Fusion fans, 2009 has already been and gone. That’s because Ford is already bringing on the 2010 models of this top-rated midsized sedan—including a hybrid whose fuel economy, at 41 city/36 highway, ranks above all others in its segment.

Besides the much-anticipated Fusion + Hybrid, the 2010 Fusion comes in four gas-powered models, from the 4-cylinder, 6-speed manual S, through the performance Sport with 3.5L V6, 263-hp, SelectShift 6-speed.

“I like the comfort and size,” says sales associate Bob Brasch. “It’s what I call ‘just right.’ It’s true value for the dollar, with different models to choose depending on how you’re going to use it. Like nearly all Fords, it still runs on regular gas, 87-octane…as well as on E85 ethanol.

“What people will respond to most is the handling. The variable-assist electric (instead of hydraulic) power steering is very smooth.”

The Fusion debuted in 2006, and since then it has become a benchmark for quality in the Ford lineup. Both J.D. Power & Associates and Consumer Reports say it leads the midsize segment for quality and reliability, surpassing Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. And the new Fusion has been completely redesigned to build on that reputation.

Bob Cyran, recently at the Ford store to train the staff on Fusion’s new features, believes that “people will be attracted by its good looks. Ford designers have refined it, made it cleaner, sportier, with a bolder identity. It’s a very comfortable, nice-riding car, quiet and nimble.”

At one time, increasing the power of a vehicle meant sacrificing fuel economy, but that isn’t true with Fusion. The 2010’s 2.5L Duratec I-4 gas engine in the Fusion S with automatic transmission delivers 175hp as well as top-of-class 23 city/34 highway mileage.

What you’ll want to know more about: Fusion + Hybrid’s “green” interior components, like soy-based seat inserts, and Blind Spot Information and Cross-Traffic Alert, stand-alone options never before available in a vehicle.

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