11/17/2009 09:02 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ford Fusion "Motor Trend 2010 Car of the Year"

Ford's family of Fusion cars has been named "Motor Trend 2010 Car of the Year," awarding the car probably the best-known (and trusted) prize in the automotive consumer world.

The Fusion was chosen best of 23 new or significantly upgraded vehicles that were eligible for the award after a week of testing, Motor Trend said.

In 1964, Motor Trend's Car of the Year award went to the entire Ford lineup, recognizing its combination of design, engineering excellence, and performance. In 1970, Motor Trend gave the nod to the Ford Torino, which could be ordered in a wide variety of configurations. Forty years ago, buyers could choose from economical, six-cylinder-powered sedans to the dragstrip-ready 429 Super Cobra Jet fastback. These legendary winners had one thing in common: bandwidth. In the 1960s and '70s, this term wasn't yet part of popular lexicon. Today, the 2010 Ford Fusion's impressive bandwidth as a model range was one of the many factors that helped it earn the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year award.
2009-11-18-2010fordfusionsesportandhybird.jpeg Fusion family portrait

Want an economical midsize sedan that doesn't cost much, yet won't bore you to tears? Need to please your greener side with a high-tech hybrid? Fancy a near-sport sedan with AWD, 18-inch rolling stock, and the latest infotainment and electronics? Depending on which model you choose and how many option boxes you tick, the Fusion can be any of the above. Motor Trend's Art St. Antoine calls the Fusion "a compelling sweep across one of the market's most hotly contested segments."

The Fusion, which has become one of the top 10 selling vehicles in the United States and was redesigned for 2010, exceeded its previous annual sales peak earlier in November. The car was launched initially by Ford in 2006.
2009-11-18-fordfusionmercurymilanhybriddashboard.jpgFusion hybrid instrument panel

The original Ford Fusion came to market for the 2006 model year. The basics were there, but the car wasn't fully baked. For 2010, Ford's product teams gave the lineup a soup-to-nuts redevelopment so thorough, it's as if the first-generation car never existed. Only the passenger-shell sheetmetal and other basic architectural elements escaped being redesigned, upgraded, or replaced. Although a four-door sedan is the only body style offered, powertrain choices expand from two to four, and each is new or substantially revised. There are several trim levels offered as well: base S, upmarket SE, luxurious SEL, a separate Sport model, and a Hybrid. Early in this year's COTY program, there were quiet whispers, while heads nodded, about how the Fusion looked, felt, and drove like an entirely new machine.
2009-11-18-2010FordFusionhybridFrontMotionCountry.jpg 2010 Fusion hybrid

U.S. 2009 sales of the Fusion were up 15 percent through October at 148,045 but trail Toyota Motor Corp.'s Camry and Honda Motor Co.'s Accord in the mid-size sedan segment, one of the key areas in the U.S. market.

Ford's sales of the Fusion surpassed the previous full year sales record of 149,552 vehicles earlier in November. That record was set in 2007.

Sales of the vehicle have helped keep Ford's U.S. sales declines for 2009 slower than the drop in the industry overall. Through October, Ford's U.S. sales are down 21 percent for the year, while the industry is down 25 percent.

Incidentally, the 2011 Fusion EV is featured several times a week on NBC's Jay Leno Show as various celebrities drive it on a small race track.
2009-11-18-jaylenofusionev.jpeg Leno and his Fusion EV

Thanks to Motor Trend and Automotive News