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Ford unveils its new Fusion sedan

Mike Cassese / Reuters

The 2013 Ford Fusion is unveiled on the first press preview day for the North American International Auto Show.

By msnbc.com news services

Ford unveiled its new Fusion sedan at the Detroit auto show Monday -- a car that takes aim at a segment of the U.S. auto market dominated by the Toyota Camry and Honda’s Accord.

The design changes on the 2013 Fusion are an illustration of how the No. 2 U.S. automaker is going to great lengths to fulfill Chief Executive Alan Mulally’s “One Ford” plan.

Mulally's mandate, which has been a centerpiece of Ford's turnaround since 2006, is to unify Ford's once-disconnected business units and take advantage of its scale to drive down costs and build a global brand.

The family-sized Fusion is the third Ford vehicle to get a global overhaul after its smaller stable mates, the Fiesta and Focus.

The Fusion is stocked with features including a system that parallel parks the car automatically. It comes in three gas powered versions, a hybrid and the Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid that Ford says can get 100 miles per gallon.

Ford has also improved its MyFord Touch entertainment system. In October, Ford fell ten spots in a key reliability survey due to glitches in the system.

In the updated version for the Fusion, the text is larger, the screens are clearer and the touch-sensitive areas look more like buttons.

A decade of study went into developing the Fusion, said Hau Thai-Tang, executive director of global product programs.

In readying the Fusion, Ford engineers honed in on details as minute as the sound of the closing door to get the precise thud consumers associate most closely with quality.

To find that sound, Ford recorded the various car doors closing and asked people to rate which sounded best.

“We don't have our Wolfgang Puck that says this tastes right,” Thai-Tang said, referring to the Austrian celebrity chef and restaurateur. “We do research.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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