It connects to my smartphone! It connects to the web! It connects to a wall outlet in my garage! The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE seems to connect to everything. Driving one for a week, I felt a connection myself--to the app that let me drive it greener and smarter, and even brag about it later.
As a plug-in hybrid sedan, the Ford Fusion Energi runs for about 18 miles in all-electric mode. I had big plans to squeeze out as much EV juice as possible on a trip to Minneapolis.
Charging the Fusion is simple. The first night at my hotel, I found an outdoor outlet (it's always good manners to ask before you plug in) and plugged in the cable that comes with the car. It took all night to reach a full charge--about six hours. I had plenty of chances to check as I waited up until 1:30 a.m. for my college-age daughter to get back from a concert. If a Level 2 charger had been available, of course, that charge time would have dropped by several hours.
In the morning, we went shopping. You have to press a big EV button to enable all-EV mode, but in its default mode, the hybrid also uses electric power whenever it can to improve your MPG rating. You'll see an MPG indicator in the dash: In all-EV mode, it says 99MPG, or basically "no-gas" mode.
That night on my iPhone 5s, the MyFord Mobile app showed me the results. I had driven exactly 17.27 miles in EV mode and never used any gas. I also found the car on a map. (It was actually sitting just outside my window.) There's an option to start the car remotely and to lock and unlock doors. But the coolest part? The driving stats. If you ever want to know how many pounds of carbon dioxide you've saved by driving in EV mode, this is the app for you. (I had saved about 200 pounds.) You can also check out how many gallons of gas you have saved (about a gallon, in my case). You can brag to your friends about how much you've personally saved the planet for all inhabitants.
The next night, I switched things up a bit. I drove around randomly looking for a Starbucks and the library. That night, using my laptop in the lobby, I tapped into the car at Myfordmobile.com and faced a deluge of data.
The My Car tab shows the current charge level, remote start options, a vehicle locator, and even a way to pre-condition the car to a desired temperature.
Under My Driving, you can view your energy use trends.
Similar to the Xbox or PS4, you get achievement props for hitting milestones like saving a ton of carbon dioxide. Win.
In the My Community section, I discovered a guy named Bob who had a 100-percent score on his Fusion. Showoff: It means he's driven in EV mode all month. We all need competition to perform better, right?
The final night, I felt a little tired. I decided not to plug in the Fusion again. For about 18 miles of EV, it's a lot of babysitting for a small payoff.
I also wondered about the overall price. The Energi SE costs $34,700, which is exactly $12,730 more than the base Fusion S model. You'd have to drive a lot to save as much in gas as you're paying in a premium for this car.
Until then, the payoff is mostly in do-gooder points. After returning home, the app told me I'd saved about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide. I'd driven about 40 miles in all-EV mode and 500 miles total. I imagined my friends bowing down to me as a planet-saving hero.
This story, "This is Your Car on an iPhone: An App-Driven Road Trip in the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE" was originally published by IDG News Service .