2017 Ford Fusion V6 Sport SE AWD: A wolf in sheep's clothing?

Price: $41,350 as tested. The trim level begins at $33,475, but the test vehicle enjoyed enhanced park assist for $995, adaptive cruise control for $1,190, V6 Sport Upgrade Package (power driver's seat, ambient lighting, and more), $2,000, and Driver Assist Package, $1,625.

Marketer's pitch: "Just because you need a four-door sedan for everyday use, you don't have to let your soul freeze," Automobile magazine, quoted on Ford's website.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver magazine likes that it's "Pow-pow-powerful" but not its "porky mass, lackluster steering feel, responses not quite polished."

Reality: Maybe a wolf in police dog's clothing.

Hot rod sedan: One would be hard pressed to expect a Ford Fusion to go roaring past him on the highway. Ford aims to put a stop to that prejudice with the Sport SE.

You gotcher ears on? I somehow felt like nothing if not Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane chasing them Duke boys through Hazzard County. The Fusion offered all kinds of straight-line acceleration but took turns like a 1972 Dodge Polara police car.

Up to speed: The Ford Fusion introduces itself as a nice, sedate family sedan. Comfortable and roomy, it fits like a pair of relaxed-fit dad jeans.

But switch it into Sport mode and the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 takes full advantage of its whopping 325 horsepower. Blast onto the highway faster than you ever expected; 0-60 passes in just 5.1 seconds, according to Car and Driver.

On the curves: As mentioned, the Fusion handles like an American sedan of yesteryear. The ride is comfortable and smooth – some rough patches of Pennsylvania road smoothed out rather nicely – but the price comes when on the curves. Zigs and zags are not nearly as fun as a Passat or a Lexus might make them.

Driver's Seat: I found the cockpit to be comfortable and roomy. Controls all seemed logically placed, and the gauges allowed for easy switching among different types of information.

Friends and stuff: In the department of little things mean a lot, the console in the Fusion offered a great center box for storage and another giant cubby in front for phones and whatnot.

Rear-seat passengers will find accommodations roomy. Legs and heads have plenty of space. Toes, too. The center passenger will sit up high, though, and probably be none too happy about it.

The cavernous trunk holds 16 cubic feet.

Play some tunes: This is the second Ford stereo I'd experienced in two weeks, and both had good sound but one fundamental problem – adding bass and treble significantly altered the sound of recordings, more than I'd noticed from other stereos.

And as each setting brought something to the fore, other instruments were really drowned out. I can only give this unit a B- for sound.

As for controls, Ford has given up on almost all of its original Sync templates, and seems to have outsourced interface design to FiatChrysler. The infotainment screen looked and acted like one from a Pacifica I recently tested, and that's not a bad thing.

Shifty: Or, make that, twisty. In another visit to the local Chrysler dealership, Ford evidently also absconded with the dial-in transmission selector. I've whined about these things before, but I've finally decided it's not them, it's me. The dial transmissions work fine, but they take some getting used to.

Buttons on the steering wheel control shifts if you like; they're smaller than normal paddles and didn't do much for me.

As for how the transmission functions, the second-third upshift always seemed balky and power draining.

Keeping warm and cool: Three touchpad buttons across the bottom of the HVAC controls change left and right temperature and fan speed. Full HVAC control is left to the touchscreen, but it's clear and easy to use.

Fuel economy: I averaged 22 mpg in the usual Mr. Driver's Seat world of country roads and highways.

Where it's built: Hermilloso, Mexico.

How it's built: Consumer Reports predicts the Fusion will have better-than-average reliability, and that's where it's been since 2015.

In the end: The Fusion is not a bad choice for the Ford Mustang lover who needs to get people into the backseat as well.