The header on a recent Ford press release reads “Americans Carry Around So Many Electronic Devices that Ford Had to Rethink the Car Interior” My first thought was, “well duh.” What’s next? “Ford Announces Bigger Seat Cushions For Lard-Butt American Market?”
Then I thought about it for another half second and realized it’s a pretty cool thing.
Data point #1: According to the Pew Research Center, roughly one in three Americans now own a smartphone, a computer, and a tablet. That’s a 140 percent increase over the last three years alone. That sharp escalation drove Ford to up the available storage in the 2017 Fusion by 59 percent.
Data point #2: Me. I recently had to move to an area of the world I know little about and where proper navigation is key. So I spent far too much time figuring out things like cell phone mounts and chargers and cables and cable routing and, germane to this here article, where on Earth to put all that stuff. And this is in my folk’s car – they’re both older and in constant need of medical this and that, so it means driving literally hundreds of miles for radiation scans and eyeball pressure tests and orthopedic toe cup fittings and x-rays and consultations with gastroenterologists – and their medium-sized sedan has room this sports car driver finds commodious, but even at that, I was scratching my head saying, “where am I going to put this bit?”
So with that as general background info, and in response to what the Pew Research Center found, Ford redesigned the interior of the 2017 Fusion to give both drivers and passengers more storage, increased connectivity, and “an open, airier feel throughout.”
Ford vehicle architecture supervisor for the Fusion, Kelly Whetstone, put it this way: “People love the look and feel of Fusion, but there are always things we can do to make it better. So we looked at customer feedback, and then we honed in on the storage capability of the car.”
Which is nice, but take a step back from the surface level of that quote and dig the implications in what she said: “we looked at customer feedback, and then we honed in on the storage capability of the car.”
So people seemed generally fine with the car, but the main sticking point was storage? Shoot, give the chassis people and the powertrain engineers a big pat on the back then if that was the only real complaint!
In addition to increasing the storage by nearly two-thirds, Ford also added easy-to-reach bins throughout the redesigned interior, including a new phone pocket, and an area for small coins (handy for turnpike toll booths, bane of the Northeast driver). The central armrest has been lengthened about 3 inches, and a clamshell design has been incorporated for the upper compartment to make the space more accessible and user friendly.
The revamped media bin at the front of the console, under the 8-inch touchscreen, now features a lighted USB port, which is nice, but let me also add: put USB ports everywhere people! At this stage, I want USB ports in the next couch I buy. There’s also a new, narrow storage slot behind the media bin, perfect for a cellphone and other small items.
No Strings Attached
Oh, and chords. Showing further proof that Nikola Tesla was really onto something with that whole “power transmission without wires” idea, Ford, of course, had to deal with those maddening cords. To wit, they state the interior rearrangement provides room for more efficiently designed cord storage space, so cords don’t tangle, droop or snag. So thanks for that!
Curiously, Ford makes no mention of what’s going on in the back seat, but then again, that must be a much easier nut to crack. Back there, all people have to do is sit down, shut up, and be good passengers. There’s more space in general, and the rear section in unencumbered by things like steering wheels, gear shifts, and peddles. So designing cubbies and figuring out where to put them becomes a bit easier.
So good job Ford, it’s nice of you to pay attention to customer needs and the changing, technology obsessed world we live and drive in.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life around racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.