The 2013 Ford Fusion is not simply an affordable sedan with a sheen of luxury, as the design brief defined. To Mays, it’s the culmination of Ford’s cultural shift–to make the brand a “place where we can start to create vehicles that have an international integrity, as opposed to being a nice car from the Midwest.”

It seems obvious in retrospect – J Mays wants to design a car that looks $10-$15k more expensive than it is. I’m not sure that there is any reason for cars looking cheap other than automakers wanting to sell the perception of a more expensive car.

It’s worked in reverse for decades – an Escalade is simply a Suburban with more design accents. An Acura is a Honda with nicer design. A Lexus is an expensive Toyota.

With the 2013 Ford Fusion, they’re turning that around.