Though it was slow to join the hybrid ranks, Ford has hit what appears to be a home run with its new Fusion Hybrid, rocketing to the top of the mid-size sedan fuel efficiency charts. Official certification by the EPA has put the car's fuel efficiency at 41mpg (5.7L/100km) city and 36mpg on the highway (6.5L/100km).

That's 8mpg ahead of Camry in town and 2mpg better on the highway. A large part of the Fusion's efficiency success is its ability to travel at up to 47mph in electric-only mode, letting the combustion engine do less of the work of acceleration.

"The Fusion Hybrid's ability to run at a much higher speed in electric mode allows drivers to maximize fuel efficiently in many driving situations," said Praveen Cherian, Fusion Hybrid program leader. "For example, this would allow drivers to travel around their subdivision and parking areas in all-electric mode."

An electronically controlled CVT transmission helps keep the 2.5L four-cylinder in its ideal zone when it is engaged, and a few high-tech toys help boost fuel savings as well.

A smart climate control system, for example, only uses power when necessary and features an electric air conditioning compressor. The throttle control is programmed to reduce airflow when the engine shuts down, reducing fuel use, and the regenerative braking system recaptures 94% of the energy that would otherwise be lost to thermal dissipation under braking.

A potentially untapped aspect of the Fusion Hybrid's fuel efficiency package is the SmartGauge system. Because the EPA test doesn't take into account human behavior and the SmartGauge system is intended to help drivers train themselves to be more efficient behind the wheel, individual users could potentially see even higher results than the tested averages.