To meet both customer expectations and new, more stringent regulations (after years of stagnation), automakers need to either keep squeezing out more mileage out of every gallon of gasoline. To do that, Ford has taken a multi-pronged approach that includes electric cars like the Focus electric (too bad they don't focus on it more -- sorry for the bad pun), plug in hybrids like the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi, and regular hybrids like the C-MAX and Fusion hybrid.
What is EcoBoost?On top of these, which all use electric motors in one way or another to save fuel, Ford has also invested big into what it calls EcoBoost. The general idea is to downsize the engine significantly, but to add turbocharging and direct injection to boost power. So when the car is just cruising along, the smaller engine burns less fuel than a bigger one would, and when power is required, it can still produce a similar amount of power and torque to a bigger engine. In general, this is good for savings of about 15-20%.
A good example of what these downsized, turbocharged engines can do is Ford's 2014 Fiesta 1-liter EcoBoost. The regular 2014 Fiesta with the 6-speed auto - which is more fuel efficient than the 5-speed manual - gets 32 MPG combined (29 city, 39 highway). That's already pretty good for a modern non-hybrid, but the EcoBoost version of the Fiesta gets 37 MPG combined (32 city, 45 highway).
That's pretty impressive, especially on the highway. The 2014 Honda Insight hybrid gets 44 MPG on the highway and the 2014 Toyota Prius gets 48 MPG, which isn't a lot more, though it does much better in city driving. The Fiesta EcoBoost also beats the MPG of the diesel VW Golf (30 city, 42 highway, 34 combined) while being cleaner on the emissions side.
The hybrids still get better overall fuel economy and have lower smog-forming emissions (AT-PZEV), and the plug-in hybrids and fully electric models do even better. But for the price, the Fiesta EcoBoost will be hard to beat if you're looking for a very affordable fuel-efficient ride.