2013 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid priced at $39,495

2013 Ford Fusion EnergiFord announced pricing for the plug-in version of its Fusion sedan, the 2013 Fusion Energi. This car, which Ford says will achieve 100 MPGe in combined city/highway driving, will start at $39,495.

That amount buys a base Fusion Energi SE; buyers can upgrade to the fancier Titanium model for $40,995. All models are eligible for a federal tax credit, which may be $4,000, not the $7,500 other green cars get.

The Energi commands a significant premium over the Fusion Hybrid, which starts at $27,995. The two models share most powertrain components, including a 188 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission. However, the Energi has a larger lithium-ion battery pack.

The Fusion Energi should offer significantly better mpg, though. The Fusion Hybrid is rated at 47 mpg in all three EPA categories, but Ford says the Energi will return 100 MPGe combined. The ability to charge its batteries from an outlet should stretch every gallon of gas the Energi uses, as will its roughly 20-mile electric-only driving range.

The Fusion Energi’s price and estimated MPGe should put it right in the middle of the current plug-in pack. The Toyota Prius Plug-in returns 95 MPGe and starts at $32,000, the Chevrolet Volt returns 95 MPGe and starts at $39,145, and Ford’s own C-Max Energi returns 100 MPGe and starts at $32,950.

On the subjective side, the Fusion Energi puts efficiency in a very attractive package. The Fusion is one of the best looking cars on the market right now and, despite not being a hatchback like the Prius, Volt, and C-Max, it still has a fairly low 0.27 coefficient of drag.

The Fusion’s sedan body does come with some practicality limitations, though. The Energi’s larger battery pack eats up some trunk space, and of course it doesn’t have a full tailgate like the C-Max.

If the Fusion Energi can deliver on Ford’s MPGe claim, then it should be able to justify its fairly high price. However, what could be a great car for individual buyers might not be a sales success for Ford. As Chevy has found out with the Volt, great mileage alone can’t counteract a high price. We’ll have to see if buyers pony up for the Fusion Energi, or stick with the somewhat cheaper C-Max Energi.

If you’re looking for ultimate mpg and don’t want the range anxiety of a pure EV, the Fusion Energi (and the Volt, Prius, and C-Max, for that matter) should be just the ticket. It’s just a question of how much that extra utility is worth.