has driven the sporty new 2010 Ford Fusion, the improved mid-size sedan. Our team of automotive experts has additionally reviewed competitive write-ups on the 2010 Fusion to develop this comprehensive review. Such focused research gives the ability to deliver an expert review of this mid-size sedan and assist you in making a smart decision.

The 2010 Ford Fusion is a mid-size four-door sedan that offers gasoline and hybrid power in either front- or all-wheel-drive configurations.

In normal times, the Fusion, at only three model years old, would have been due for a minor refresh—some added features and a gussied-up nose and tail. Instead, Ford spent 0 million on a major overhaul affecting engines, transmissions, interiors, and styling. The result is a dramatically improved and refined mid-size sedan that comprises a full range of models, including a base gasoline four-cylinder model, a mid-level V-6, an exceptional hybrid, and a gutsy Sport model with a big-bore V-6.

The 2010 Fusion's new styling looks sharp, especially the aggressive front end that puts a new face on Ford's three-bar grille. The design requires a new hood and front fenders, and the result is as sculptural as it is contemporary. The changes at the rear are subtler and, along with updating the look, improve visibility because the third brake light is now mounted at the top of the trunk lid. The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid model will appeal to those who don't want to flaunt their sensibilities; only the Hybrid badges give you obvious visual confirmation that you're looking at the most efficient mid-size sedan on the road.

Review continues below

Including the 2010 Fusion Hybrid, Ford now offers four individual powertrains: a 2.5-liter I-4 (175 horsepower), a 2.5-liter I-4 hybrid (192 hp), an E-85-capable 3.0-liter V-6 (240 hp), and a 3.5-liter V-6 (263 hp). Six-speed automatic transmissions are standard on the V-6 models and optional on the non-hybrid four-cylinder. The standard gearbox on the I-4 is a surprisingly nice six-speed manual.

Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive can be ordered on select 2010 Ford Fusion models. The Hybrid comes only with front-wheel drive.

While official EPA estimates were not available when this Bottom Line was uploaded, expect to see figures of 39 mpg city, 37 mpg highway. During several extensive test drives in California, pilots from averaged over 42 mpg, so Ford's estimates may prove conservative.

This excellent fuel economy comes from a sophisticated hybrid powertrain, hooked to a quiet 155-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that runs using the ultra-efficient Atkinson cycle. The electric motor housed within the transmission unit adds 36 hp at full throttle, providing a total of 191 hp. The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid can propel itself on electric power alone for short distances and at low speeds, and a lighter, more powerful battery pack allows the gasoline engine to shut off more often.

Perhaps the best compliment that one could bestow upon any hybrid is that it performs as well as a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid does. Acceleration is smooth and strong, much like a small V-6. Transitions between running all-electric (up to 47 mph) and gas and electric or just gas are barely perceptible.

While the current environment isn't quite perfect for the introduction of the Fusion line's first dedicated performance model, that doesn't stop the Sport from being truly entertaining. Power from its large V-6 comes on strong and smooth with refinement befitting a Lincoln—no surprise since this engine is used in Lincoln products. The Sport's handling is so tied down, thanks to unique suspension tuning, that Ford feels comfortable letting journalists autocross the car, something completely out of character with the sedan's purpose in life. However, flying around cones in a parking lot proves that the car has the chops to precisely clip apexes, delivering a feeling of control that eludes the mid-size market's mainstay, the less buttoned-down Toyota Camry.

For 2010, the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder and both V-6 engines are quiet, smooth, and significantly more fuel-efficient. All 2010 Ford Fusion models are significantly more refined inside than the outgoing model thanks to more (and more efficiently applied) insulation, thicker glass, and additional seals on the doors. Furthermore, the entire instrument panel is new and made from a seamless, soft-to-the-touch material that fits with tight tolerances for a high-quality appearance.

The instruments sport a 3-D look that is easy to read even in direct sunlight. The middle area of the instrument panel (called the center stack) is also reconfigured to accommodate an eight-inch (that's big) LCD monitor included in vehicles ordered with the voice-activated navigation system. Hybrid models get their own interior upgrade, in the form of an Eco-Guide instrument cluster.

As as result, these interior changes yield a comfortable driving environment with a good seating position, improved visibility, and much less noise. The Ford Fusion's backseat still feels a bit more cramped than some other mid-size sedans, though, and the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid model lacks split-folding rear seats, which are sacrificed to accommodate the battery pack.

In terms of equipment, the 2010 Ford Fusion is well equipped even in its base "S" configuration. Standard features include a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, air conditioning with cabin filtration, a CD audio system that is MP3 compatible, split-folding rear seats, and power windows. Content builds up through the following trim levels: SE, Sport, and SEL. This last model includes the fully equipped SEL model with leather seats, power everything, SecurityCode keyless pad, SYNC, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. The Hybrid model comes with features equivalent to the SEL trim.

On top of the dense standard feature list, the 2010 Fusion also offers the following as options (depending on model): a reverse camera with a screen embedded in the rearview mirror or the NAV unit (if equipped), Sirius Travel Link, a moonroof, and a Sony audio system.

Regarding safety, the 2010 Ford Fusion offers what has become the standard quiver of features: ABS, traction control, electronic stability control, tire-pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, and six airbags. Extra safety-directed arrows include the Blind Spot Information System, rearview-sensing system with camera, and 911 Assist for vehicles with SYNC—all options on most models.

The Ford Fusion earns mostly five-star ratings from the federal government, along with only the best scores from the insurance-affiliated IIHS. The IIHS deems the 2010 Fusion a Top Safety Pick.