The EPA’s official fuel economy ratings for the new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid are 41 city/36 highway, jumping over the Toyota Camry’s 33/34 to claim the top spot among mid-size four-door sedans. The agency’s figures even surpassed Ford’s own prediction of a 39 mile-per-gallon city rating, giving the Detroit automaker a much needed morale boost in the midst of the deepening economic crisis. But the real advantage to selling such a fuel efficient car will be realized when gas prices begin to creep upwards, as they are expected to in the not-too-distant future.

Ford earned bragging rights to declare the Fusion “America’s most fuel-efficient midsize car” in a recent press release. Though it still falls a good bit short of the Toyota Prius’ 48 city/45 highway EPA certification, the Fusion beats out the smaller Honda Civic Hybrid by one mile per gallon in the city. Impressive, indeed.

Aside from allowing speeds of up to 47 miles per hour in all-electric mode – the highest among all current gas-electric hybrid vehicles – and an interstate cruising range of over 700 miles on a single tank of gas, Ford claims that the regenerative braking system achieves an astounding 95 percent in energy recovery when driving in city traffic. Add to that such features as an optimized electronic throttle control system, which minimizes fuel usage during Stop/Start events, and a revolutionary dashboard interface known as SmartGauge, which coaches the driver to operate the vehicle at peak efficiency.

Although real world fuel economy is expected to be in the high thirties, Los Angeles Times car columnist, Dan Neil, reported that he was able to get 52 miles per gallon in a mixed driving loop. As the Fusion Hybrid makes its way through the press circuit, you can expect many more combined mileage results from various sources in the days and weeks ahead. We hope to have a First Drive report of our own in the early part of the new year.

The Ford Fusion goes on sale in the Spring of 2009.