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Give the folks at Ford credit for not resting on its laurels. Six years ago, it debuted a fine midsize sedan in the Ford Fusion and backed it up several years later with the Fusion Hybrid, another quality automobile.

Ford decided on a redesign this year and went a step further with the Fusion, adding the Energi to the mix. While we’re not crazy about the name, the Fusion Energi is an extended-range, plug-in version of the hybrid model.

The range allows the Energi to travel totally on electric power for approximately 21 miles before shifting over to normal hybrid operation. Running in electric mode for those 21 miles, the Energi gets an amazing 100 mpg.

However, overall the Energi gets approximately 41-44 mpg, which is several miles less than the Fusion Hybrid’s 47 mpg average.

While the new technology with the Energi is to be applauded, price is an issue. The Energi starts at $38,700, which is much higher than the standard Fusion Hybrid ($27,200). And the Fusion sedan is an even greater bargain at $21,900.

There is definitely a strong list of standard features that come with the Energi, which includes leather upholstery, heated front seats, driver memory settings, keypad entry, power front seats (eight-way driver with lumbar and four-way passenger), and 110-volt household-style power outlet.

Among the electronic features are the Sync voice-activated audio and cell phone interface, the MyFord Touch electronics interface (with 8-inch central LCD touchscreen), a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface. High-tech features like blind-spot detection, adaptive cruise control, and automated parking assist are also available.

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.

Introduced in 2007, the Fusion has certainly evolved. This year the five-passenger, midsize sedan features a wider grille, new wraparound headlamps and a few more subtle changes that give it a sleeker overall appearance.

All 2013 Fusions are built on a new platform that Ford says is more rigid and safer than ever. Now in its second generation, the Fusion has a wheelbase that’s nearly five inches longer than the first-generation. Overall body length is an inch longer, plus an inch wider and taller.

The Energi has a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces a combined 188 horsepower. The performance is more than enough in most driving situations. Like the other Fusion models, the Energi provides agile handling and a quiet, comfortable ride.

While there is plenty of room for driver and passengers, the Energi does come up short in trunk department, thanks to its larger battery pack. The luggage capacity is only 8.2 cubic feet, which is about half of what the regular Fusion provides.

Again, we admire Ford for the additional technology, which goes a step further than its hybrid. But the lingering question with the Energi: Do car buyers want to pay considerably more green (cash) to be “green?”

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

  • Performance: 2.0-liter, four cylinder, 188 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 41-44 mpg
  • Price: $38,700 to $40,100
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000
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