The first thing to note about the Fusion is its exterior styling: very conservative all the way around. Those built without the optional fog lights will have an ugly plastic filler on the lower front bumper cover which is a pet peeve of mine on all new cars today. On a positive note, the 2010-12 models have a more aggressive style grille and more horizontally oriented headlight housings which I think are a good improvement. Fusion also rides on nicely styled alloy wheels with 16″ tires for the SE model, and 17″ for higher levels.
When you open the door and slide into a Fusion, you’ll notice the front seats are quite comfortable, though with average support. The standard fabric has kind of a slick feel to it and looks like it can take a lot of wear. Sliding into one for the first time felt like I had been driving this car for a long time. On the inside there’s nothing really fancy about the instrument panel; it is covered in a grainy textured plastic that is not hard and the door armrests are a softer, cheap looking plastic. There is a storage compartment above the center top of the dash, and a small slide-out tray on the left side of the dash above the headlight switch (it does come with automatic headlights). The steering wheel has radio, cruise control, and information center buttons. There’s a rectangular LCD screen in the center stack that displays climate control and radio settings, or just a clock when the radio is off. The climate control buttons are down below, at the bottom of the stack. This is one thing I don’t like about this design: the button to turn on the A/C is all the way down at the bottom. The center stack on the Fusion is truly vertical, not swept back like many newer designed cars. To turn on the A/C you’ll have to reach your finger all the way down in front of the shifter to the bottom of the stack where it meets the console. The console, with the power port, shifter, parking brake, cup holders, and armrest is comfortable for a long drive.
Overall, it is a comfortable interior with plenty of rear seat room for the family, but what it lacks is a modern style. Ford addressed this in the 2013 Fusion redesign. The Fusion’s cabin measures slightly larger than the Malibu: 100.7 cu. ft versus 97.7 cu. ft. Most of that extra size is in slightly more rear headroom and more front & rear shoulder room based on official measurements. Fusion also wins with more cargo space in the trunk: 16.5 cu. ft. compared to Malibu’s 15.1 cu. ft.