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Did Ford also cheat the specs for the new Fusion?

2013 Ford Fusion rear seatAs noted in my review, I really like driving the new Ford Fusion. I even find its rear seat the most comfortable in the midsize sedan segment. But I’m only 5-9, and even I can tell that the Fusion (top photo) doesn’t have nearly as much legroom as the VW Passat (bottom photo). Ford’s official specs (displayed here until we have better ones) state otherwise. What’s up?

My strong suspicion: they’ve cheated the specs the same way they did for the new Escape. With the Escape, they moved the front seat all the way back, measured front legroom, then shifted the front seat to where the X-percentile driver would put it, and measured rear legroom. Voila, 2.7 more inches of combined legroom!

2013 Volkswagen Passat rear seatWhile attending a media event for the car, I asked the Fusion team if they had also measured legroom this way. They said they had not, that they measured 38.3 inches of rear legroom with the front seat set to provide 44.3 inches of front legroom, for a combined total 1.1 greater than the Passat’s. I pushed them on this. They didn’t blink.

I haven’t measured the car myself. But my eyes, and everyone else’s, will report a much different reality than the numbers. Some of the big car magazines are publishing midsize sedan comparison tests in their November issues, and two I’ve read ding the Fusion for having a tight rear seat despite having the best specs, while praising the VW’s spaciousness as “limo-like”. This is because the Fusion actually has about three fewer inches of combined legroom than Ford is claiming. It’s the difference between being roomiest in the segment and being the among the tightest.