The car is EXACTLY what we were looking for. My wife wanted lots of luxury items and as sporty a color as possible, but she wanted the 4-cylinder engine for fuel economy. We ran across a 2006 SE model with the dark red paint, two-tone ivory and charcoal leather interior, 6-disc in-dash CD player, power everything and alloy wheels. I normally refuse to buy the first year of ANY vehicle due to first-year issues that inevitably crop up. However when it comes to the Fusion it wasn't quite as scary. The car has scored so high in every category from day one in so many reviews that I was less concerned. Also, at 18,000 miles if there WERE initial problems they should have been repaired under warranty by now.
The very first words out of my wife's mouth upon sitting in the car were "It's so ROOMY!!" It is indeed. It is absolutely CAVERNOUS compared to mom's very cramped Volvo S-60. The dash layout is very readable and everything is well within reach. The power seats are very comfortable and provide excellent lumbar support. That is great, as we both have bad backs. The very spacious rear seat has a fold-down arm rest with drink holders. A nice touch for traveling with rear seat passengers. Although 5 adults could ride in the car, it would NOT be comfortable on trips. It is perfect for 4. One touch I especially like is the steering wheel mounted stereo controls. It makes CD changing or volume changing less of a distraction, and therefore much safer.
I had driven several Fusions before and found them to be solid, quiet, great-handling cars with a very smooth ride for a smaller car. My wife drove it and totally agreed with my impressions. We both like cars with "go", and in that the 2.3 is slightly lacking, although it is still very adequate and has no problem merging onto freeways or passing. With economy in mind, some sacrifices are required. All-in-all, the overall handling and performance are very good indeed for a mid-sized family sedan.
We both find the feel, quality and handling better than the Accord and LIGHT YEARS ahead of Camry. The Buick LaCross and Chevy Malibu were other options, but my wife doesn't like the LaCross styling and we couldn't find a used 2008 Malibu (she doesn't care for the earlier styling) in a desirable color. In spite of very bad experience with imports in the past we also looked at, but quickly ruled out, several Japanese brands.
At $13,000 the car was hardly a "super deal", but it DID have every option we were looking for and the economical 4-cylinder engine. With only 18,000 miles it should be dependable and safe for my wife for years to come.