Is Ford Getting the Fusion Ready to Challenge the Subaru Outback?

There is this mule that keeps popping up on different Ford forums and enthusiast sites. It’s obviously a Ford of some sort and a cobbled-together station wagon. Many think and want this to be the continuation of the Fusion line of midsize cars. But it is a curious sort of mule, that’s made up of some interesting and some familiar body pieces. It looks like Ford is getting ready to challenge the Subaru Outback. Let’s break this down.

This black, cobbled mule has been spotted in and around Dearborn-Ford’s home turf. Ford hasn’t done much to disguise it as you can see in these Autocar UK images. Normally, if any company is trying to hide prototype bodywork it wraps the bodies in variations of busy black and white camo graphics. This one is exposed for the whole world to see.

The Subaru Outback-fighter is a Ford Focus Estate wagon

2021 Ford Fusion Outback-Fighter | Autocar UK-2
2021 Ford Fusion Outback-Fighter | Autocar UK

It’s a fourth-generation Ford Focus Estate wagon mostly. But the back is where it gets clobbered. An Estate rear window is crudely bonked into the rear of mostly Focus sheetmetal. Between the rear Focus doors and quarter panels is a filler of about four-five inches. The Focus doors are clearly that far from the original location relative to the wheel openings.

So, this is a Focus Estate with a lengthened wheelbase behind the rear doors. Our guess is this might be a mule hiding a Subaru Outback-fighter. A lifted Estate with some extra length would make a perfect Ford Outback-type SUV.

Ford wouldn’t have to develop a new platform for a Fusion Outback-fighter

2021 Ford Fusion Outback-Fighter | Autocar UK-2
2021 Ford Fusion Outback-Fighter | Autocar UK

Ford wouldn’t have to spend a ton on developing a new platform. It would just need to lengthen the existing one and maybe change some outside body panels and there you go-instant Ford Outback.

Ford’s Mustang Mach E SUV is built on the same platform, albeit heavily modified. That tells us the platform isn’t dying anytime soon. It also supports the Escape, C-Max, Transit Connect, and Lincoln MKC. It’s versatile, adaptable, and will stay in Ford’s platform portfolio for years to come.

We expect the drivetrain will be a variation of the all-wheel-drive Escape. That means several modes will be available making this Outback-fighter very versatile. Whatever sheetmetal it ultimately gets we expect it to follow the Outback aesthetic of added black plastic cladding, wheel arches, and more aggressive fascia. Oh, and some heavy-looking roof rack with extra support to help with the off-road vibe. 

There’s plenty of equity in the Fusion name so this makes sense

2021 Ford Fusion Outback-Fighter | Autocar UK-2
2021 Ford Fusion Outback-Fighter | Autocar UK

There is a lot of equity in the Fusion name. Ford has said that though it is killing all of its sedans, including the Focus, it will be bringing it back in another iteration. Fusion is slated for discontinuation in 2021. 

Forums show a fondness for it and a desire to see it continue. Ford obviously agrees though we could also apply that logic to the Focus and Taurus. In fact, the Taurus was the best-selling car in the US for years. Some years it has built more than 400,000 of them and consistently sold well over 300,000 for years up to the mid-2000s. 

Could there be a Fusion, Focus, or Taurus in your future? Not like we remember them but something more SUV-like? With the exception of the Fusion, probably not.