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The Fusion has been a nice addition to the Ford lineup, providing versatility to the once struggling American automaker. Aided by the success of this family-friendly sedan, Ford posted its biggest annual profit in more than a decade with its fourth quarter earnings for 2010.

The hybrid is one of five Fusion trim lines and is the company’s first entry in the hybrid passenger car category. The hybrid version drives like all the other Fusion trim models. It predictably gets excellent gas mileage (36-41 mpg), but also predictable is the cost – the hybrid is the highest sticker price ($28,100) in the Fusion lineup.

Introduced in 2007, the Fusion went through its redesign phase last year, so there are no new changes for 2011. The gasoline/electric powered hybrid joined the Fusion lineup a year ago and immediately earned praise for its gas-saving capability and knack for capturing the attention of drivers with its SmartGauge feature.

The SmartGauge provides digital-graphic readouts that can help gas-conscious people drive more economically. While the concept is cool and is simple to view and comprehend, the feature can also be distracting when watched too frequently.

Ford has done a nice job of designing a midsize family sedan that offers a spacious, comfortable interior, handles well, and provides solid performance for a hybrid.

The Fusion is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine that generates 156 horsepower and totals 191 horsepower when the electric motor’s influence is added. It has good passing power and goes 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds, a nice clip for any hybrid.

Fusion has an intriguing cabin that is a little busy with all its buttons and gauges. But overall, the interior is praised due to its use of soft-touch materials, the comfort it provides all five passengers, and its quiet ride.

Regardless of which trim model one chooses, the Fusion receives high marks in many areas and is a good buy in the midsize sedan class.

2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 191 horsepower
Mileage estimate: 36-41 mpg
Price: $28,100

Standard features include: tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; 60/40 split-folding rear seat; four-speaker sound system, CD player, MP3, auxiliary audio jack; security code keyless entry pad; automatic dual-zone climate control; power-adjustable driver seat lumbar, four-way power passenger seat; heated front seats; specialized gauge cluster; auto headlamps; traction control; tire pressure monitor; electronic stability system