Christmas came a bit early for the Blue Oval team this year when the EPA formally certified Ford's new 2010 Fusion Hybrid's fuel economy ratings at 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. At the car's press launch two weeks ago, the automaker confidently predicted the city number for this newest Fusion family member would be at least 39 mpg. That already reflected a six mile-per-gallon edge over its closest direct competitor, the Toyota Camry Hybrid. However, the engineering team was hopeful of even better results when official numbers finally were released. This just-confirmed EPA data now gives the Fusion an eight-mpg advantage over the gas-electric Camry variant -- and puts it up by two miles per gallon on the highway. Those figures also handily surpass two other mid-size four-door hybrids, the Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Altima, which carry 26/34 mpg and the 35/33 mpg ratings, respectively.
While Ford's press release proclaims the Fusion "officially America's most fuel efficient mid-size car," a quick perusal of the EPA's latest Fuel Economy Guide indicates that the 2009 Toyota Prius actually continues to hold that honor on the strength of its 48/45 mpg figures. Expect its edge to become even larger when a redesigned 2010 version debuts in Detroit next month. However, while the Camry also is due for a 2010 refresh, there's not much chance it will put in on par with this most fuel-efficient Fusion. Numbers games aside, the best bottom-line news for Ford is that the new Fusion Hybrid -- and its mechanical clone, the 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid -- represent a solid exercise in user-friendly technology that even the non-eco crowd will find easy and affordable to live with -- particularly when gasoline prices finally do rebound from their present sub-$2.00 a gallon levels. While the $27,995 Fusion Hybrid does command a $3,295 premium over the similarly-equipped Fusion SEL model on which it is based, the Hybrid also is expected to qualify for a tax credit from the federal government that will help offset some of that extra cost.