Consider this a little advanced notice. Come next fall, if you're in the market for a mid-size sedan, there'll be only two words on your lips. Ford Fusion.
I was at the Detroit Show a couple of weeks back, and when this all-new 2013 Fusion glided on to the stage, I swear it got more applause than Betty White at the Golden Globes.
How come? For starters, it looks terrific. No white-goods appliance styling here. Its swoopy roofline gives it a real four-door coupe look, while its front end could be straight off an Aston Martin.
And there's plenty of lovely detailing that makes it look way more expense than it'll be. From the power bulges on the hood, to the thin chrome strips on the door handles, there's more visual surprise and delight here than an episode of CSI Miami.
Inside, it's a similar story of high quality, great fit and finish and elegant detailing. Even the base model looks expensive.
But the big news comes when you lift the hood. While the base engine is a carry-over 2.5-liter in-line "four," there are two new high-economy yet punchy EcoBoost turbo four-cylinders -- a 179-hp 1.6-liter, and a 237-hp 2.0.
Want to go hybrid? The new Fusion Hybrid comes with a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with an electric motor coupled to a new lithium-ion battery pack. The result? A class-leading 47mpg city and 44mph highway.
Coming late fall will be the Fusion Energi, a Volt-style plug-in hybrid with an e-mpg range of 102 miles.
No word on pricing yet, but it won't stray too much from the Camry/Malibu/Sonata/Accord crowd with a high-value $21,000 to $28,000 span.
Ford better start clearing some space for all those "Car of the Year" awards it's going to be collecting. Yep, it's that good.
Tampa-based auto writer Howard Walker can be reached at email@example.com.