DETROIT – Data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency confirms that the Ford Fusion hybrid will be the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan on the market when it arrives this spring, boasting 41 miles per gallon in city driving. The highway fuel efficiency is rated at 36 mpg.

According to the EPA website, the Ford Fusion hybrid is the second-most fuel-efficient vehicle on the market, behind the smaller Toyota Prius and ahead of the smaller Honda Civic hybrid.

"The Ford team set the bar high -- to develop America's most fuel-efficient mid-size sedan -- and that's what they delivered," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's vice president for global product development.

The 2010 Ford Fusion's final fuel economy certification was completed this month at Ford’s testing laboratories in Allen Park, Mich. The Fusion Hybrid can travel more than 700 miles on a single tank of gas.

Ford’s engineers spent the past three years developing in-house the vehicle's hybrid propulsion system. It allows the Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrid to travel up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode. In addition, the system's Advanced Intake Variable Cam Timing allows the Fusion and Milan hybrids to more seamlessly transition from gas to electric mode and vice-versa.

"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."

Fusion's advanced hybrid system features include:

-- Smaller, lighter nickel-metal hydride battery, which produces 20 percent more power than Ford's previous hybrid system. The battery's improved chemistry allows it to be run at a higher temperature and cooled using cabin air.

-- New 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine (155 horsepower / 136 lb.-ft. of torque), which is mated to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission.

-- Enhanced electronic throttle control, which reduces airflow on shutdowns, reducing fueling needs on restarts.

-- Smart climate control system, which monitors cabin temperature and only runs the gas engine as needed to heat the cabin. It also includes an electric air conditioning compressor to further minimize engine use.

-- Regenerative brake system, which captures the energy normally lost through friction in braking and stores it. Nearly 94 percent energy recovery is achieved by delivering full regenerative braking, which means only 6 percent of braking is through traditional friction brakes

The new Fusion Hybrid literally teaches drivers how to make the most out of their vehicle, thanks to Ford's SmartGauge with EcoGuide. The SmartGauge instrument cluster helps coach drivers on how to optimize the performance of their hybrid.

SmartGauge with EcoGuide features two, high-resolution, full-color liquid crystal display screens on either side of the vehicle’s speedometer. The screens can be configured to show different levels of driver information, including fuel and battery power levels, and average and instant miles-per-gallon.

When set in tutorial mode, the instrument panel "grows" leaves and vines on-screen to reward fuel-efficient driving. The more leaves and vines that appear, the more efficient the driving behavior is and the more fuel is being saved. In some recent tests, automotive journalists have reported exceeding 50 mpg with the Fusion Hybrid.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid also is distinct on the outside with Ford’s "road and leaf" badges on both sides and the rear, unique 17-inch, eight-spoke wheels, and a unique engine cover. On the inside, Fusion Hybrid features eco-friendly seat fabric made from post-industrial 100 percent recycled materials and a standard 110-volt power outlet.

In addition to the hybrid, Fusion will be offered with three fuel-efficient gasoline engines -- the Duratec 2.5-liter I-4 and enhanced 3.0-liter flex-fuel V-6 and 3.5-liter V-6 Duratec engines.