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Is the line between gas-electric hybrids and small internal-combustion-only cars starting to blur?

Ford announced that the 2011 Ford Fiesta equipped with the 6-speed automatic transmission will be rated at 40 miles per gallon on the highway. It’s not official yet, but the Chevrolet Cruze Eco is also expected to join the 40-mpg club when later this year. Look Ma, No hybrid! And still delivering better than 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

Ford’s advertising tag line for the Fiesta brags: "The Fiesta gets 40 highway miles per gallon. That's more than 21 hybrids." Ford’s spinmeisters are correct that most hybrids, including expensive models from BMW, Lexus and Mercedes, as well as the mid-market Toyota Camry Hybrid, don’t reach 40 mpg on the highway. What Ford omits is that all five of Ford’s own hybrids don’t hit the 40-mpg mark on the highway.

Ford also don’t highlight the city numbers for the Fiesta—29 mpg for the automatic version. That’s a far cry from the Fusion Hybrid’s 41-mpg rating in the city or the Toyota Prius’s 51 miles to the gallon. Of course, the comparison between the Fiesta and Prius on mileage is not entirely fair. The Fiesta, starting about $14,000, costs half as much as the Prius. The more apropos comparison is other compacts. On the highway, the Fiesta is 5 miles a gallon better than Honda Fit and 4 miles a gallon better than Toyota Yaris.

source: hybridcars

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