updated 1/9/2009 5:02:25 PM ET 2009-01-09T22:02:25

Ford Motor Co. on Friday said the conventional version of its new Fusion sedan will get the best gas mileage in the highly popular mid-size segment of the U.S. market.

Ford said the Environmental Protection Agency certified that a Fusion equipped with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission will get 34 miles per gallon on the highway and 23 mpg in the city.

The revamped Fusion, due in showrooms in March, aims to take market share from the Toyota Camry, the top-selling car in the U.S.

A four-cylinder Camry with either a manual or automatic transmission now gets 31 miles per gallon on the highway and 21 in the city.

Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford also is rolling out a hybrid gasoline-electric version of the Fusion that will get 41 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the freeway, which the automaker says is the most efficient hybrid in its class.

The 2010 four-cylinder Fusion, though, will lead competitors with conventional internal combustion engines in a market segment that is attracting many buyers who are moving out of larger vehicles but still need back-seat legroom and a decent amount of trunk space.

A four-cylinder Honda Accord with a manual transmission gets 31 mpg on the highway and 22 in the city. The Accord is the second-best seller in the mid-size segment.

The Fusion also edges out several new vehicles from General Motors Corp. that are equipped with four cylinder engines and six-speed automatic transmissions. The Chevrolet Malibu, for instance, gets 33 mpg on the highway and 22 in the city.

Ford has pledged to have improved gas mileage for all new vehicles it introduces as it tries to lure U.S. buyers back to its car lineup. But competitors also are promising better fuel economy, figuring that buyers stung by $4 per gallon gasoline last summer will continue to be wary of rising fuel prices.

But slackening demand in the worldwide economic slowdown has dropped gasoline back below $2 per gallon in much of the country. The nationwide average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was about $1.69 in December, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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