This is progress. Government entities have been pressuring automakers to step up in the fuel economy game and Ford is in position for next year with four 40-mpg vehicles.
Currently, three cars -- Fiesta SE with Super Fuel Economy package, Fusion Hybrid, and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid -- already own Environmental Protection Agency-certified city or highway figures that meet or exceed 40 mpg. Ford expects its impending 2012 Focus with the base, direct-injected 2.0-liter inline-four and 6-speed, twin-clutch automatic transmission to achieve 40 highway mpg, which would make it the fourth member of this high-efficiency posse.
Ford's 40 MPG Club
- Fiesta SE with SFE package, 6-speed auto -- 29 city/40 highway mpg (29 city/38 highway mpg without SFE equipment, 28 city/37 highway mpg with 5-speed manual)
- Fusion Hybrid, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid -- 41 city/36 highway mpg
- Focus with 2.0-liter inline-four, 6-speed auto -- 40 highway mpg (projected)
The Fiesta's SFE kit includes side tire deflectors, underbody shields, cruise control, a lower front grille blocker, and 15-inch aluminum wheels.
The Focus' four-cylinder puts out 160 horsepower with 146 pound-feet of torque and is pegged for 40 mpg on the highway when mated to a twin-clutch auto with six speeds. Ford hasn't speculated on the city number, but given the subcompact Fiesta (with similar transmission and a smaller 1.6-liter engine) does 29 mpg in the city, we'd expect the new Focus to be capable of the same or a slightly less figure.
In addition to smaller displacements, direct injection, and more efficient transmissions, Ford can point to electric power-assisted steering and their twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) for helping reach the 40-mpg mark.
Ford's fleet-wide fuel economy average has grown 19.2 percent from 2004 to 2009, according to the EPA. The net improvement is nearly 70-percent higher than the next closest automaker and is mostly attributed to a critical product portfolio shift with heavier emphasis on conventional cars and crossovers. Now, improving the Corporate Average Fuel Economy means relying on developing powertrain technology (including EcoBoost), lightening chassis, pursuing cleaner aerodynamics, and getting alternative-power vehicles to market. Needless to say, there's work to be done.