By Stephen Edelstein
When it comes to mid-size sedans with multiple options for green powertrain, the 2015 Ford Fusion and 2015 Hyundai Sonata are fairly well matched.
Both offer base naturally-aspirated engines, two turbocharged engines of similar displacements, and hybrid models.
Ford and Hyundai have also both eschewed V-6es, using only four-cylinder engines, in their respective mid-size sedan lineups.
What does that mean in terms of fuel economy? Here’s a model-by-model comparison of Fusion and Sonata fuel economy.
Ford offers all-wheel drive on certain high-end Fusion models but, since Hyundai doesn’t do the same for the Sonata, we’ll limit ourselves to ratings for front-wheel drive models for a fair comparison.
Both cars have naturally-aspirated base engines that are pretty close in displacement. The Sonata comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, while the Fusion has a 2.5-liter engine with 175 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque.
With the six-speed automatic transmissions that are mandatory for both cars, the Sonata edges out the Fusion with an EPA-rated 29 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway). The Ford is rated at 26 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 34 mpg highway).
Note that the Sonata Limited model comes with a slight penalty of 1 mpg in the combined and city categories, and 2 mpg in the highway categories.
Stepping up from the base models, both Sonata and Fusion buyers can choose from two turbocharged engines each.
The 2015 Sonata Eco is equipped with a 1.6-liter engine that produces 178 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque and is the only Sonata model to use Hyundai’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Ford’s 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder isn’t offered in a special “eco” model, and it produces a bit more power than Hyundai’s small turbo engine–181 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. It comes with the same six-speed automatic used in other non-hybrid Fusion models.
In the EPA ratings, the Sonata Eco lives up to its name, achieving 32 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway), compared to 29 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway) for the Fusion.
There are also more powerful turbo engines available, both displacing 2.0 liters. The Sonata’s churns out 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, while Fusion’s produces 240 hp and 270 lb-ft.
This one is a virtual dead heat. The Sonata is rated at 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city, 32 mpg highway), while the Fusion gets the same combined rating, 1 mpg less in the city category, and 1 mpg more in the highway.
A comparison of 2015 Sonata and Fusion hybrid models is essentially the same as it was for the 2014 model year.
That’s because the 2015 Sonata Hybrid retains last year’s body style and–like the rest of the lineup–the 2015 Fusion Hybrid is virtually unchanged.
That means Sonata buyers will still get a 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and electric motor with a combined output of 199 hp, while the Fusion retains its 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four in a hybrid powertrain with a combined 188 hp.
The Sonata Hybrid is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission, while the Fusion gets a CVT.
The Fusion bests the Sonata here with an EPA-rated 42 mpg combined (44 mpg city, 41 mpg highway), compared to the Hyundai’s 38 mpg combined (36 mpg city, 40 mpg highway). The Sonata Hybrid Limited model also loses 1 mpg combined.
However, Ford also offers the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, with the same powertrain as the Fusion Hybrid and a larger lithium-ion battery pack.
The Fusion Energi is rated at 88 MPGe combined with 20 miles of electric-only range, or 38 mpg combined when operating on a mixture of gasoline and electric power.
Hyundai is expected to launch both new hybrid and plug-in versions of the Sonata next year, so we’ll have to revisit this one.
We’ll also be driving a Sonata Eco for a longer period soon–it’s already one of our Best Car To Buy candidates–and we look forward to reporting on our real-world gas mileage results.