I haven’t had this much fun with a review car since the 2000 Corvette. With understated styling, Ford’s Fusion Sport AWD is comfortable, handles well, and looks good.

Standard equipment on the Sport AWD model includes 18-in. aluminum wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control, and side air bags. Inside features include leather-trim, Sirius satellite radio, and Sync voice-activated system. The review model also boasted the so-called Moon & Tune package (Moon roof and a Sony 12-speaker sound system). P225/45R18 tires, and the reverse-sensing system round out the options on this preproduction test vehicle. The stereo sounded great but I think HD digital radio would make more sense as part of the package instead of a subscription satellite-radio service.

All the interior panels are easy to read, controls are well within reach, and the leather-trimmed seats are comfortably snug. One minor complaint is that the driver-side blindspot seemed bigger than expected, requiring the outside mirror view to be farther from the side of the car.

The Fusion’s 3.5-liter four-valve V6 engine, coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission with Select shift, is a big part of what makes this car so much fun to drive. I had to exercise great restraint to avoid opportunities for moving violations. Let’s just say the car has more power and handling capabilities than can be legally tested on public streets or highways.

When using the select shift mode the car handles like a manual transmission but without the clutch. You stay in first gear until you hit the shifter, and it’s easy to red-line. This also means you can downshift to slow down somewhat (if the engine speed is not within the proper range the transmission will not change gears). During my week of fun, according to the onboard computer, I averaged about 21 mpg.

The test model’s MSRP of $28,865 seems in line with competing vehicles even though it included a number of things I would not spend money on.

— Randall Rubenking