With more new-car buyers than ever wanting higher gas mileage in their next car, automakers are keen to show just how efficient their latest models can be.

Which is probably why Ford took to its oval test track in Dearborn, Michigan, with four NASCAR stars to prove that its 2013 Fusion with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine could achieve gas mileage figures most mid-size cars could only dream of.

In a closed-track event called the Fusion EcoBoost NASCAR Miles Per Gallon Challenge, Ford challenged NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Trevor Bayne and Matt Kenseth to drive around its 2.5-mile long closed test track three times in 15 minutes, using the least gasoline as possible.

According to Ford’s official release, “by nearly posting 50 mpg,” Bayne won the challenge, with a gas mileage figure of 46.9 mpg. 

While that figure beats the official EPA gas mileage highway figure for the 2013 Fusion EcoBoost by 9.9 mpg, it needs to be taken with a liberal amount of reality. 

We’ll explain. 

Ford Four-Cylinder EcoBoost Engine

Ford Four-Cylinder EcoBoost Engine

First, Ford’s test took place on a warm August day, when cars will naturally achieve higher gas mileage figures than they do on colder days. 

Second, the test took place on a closed track, where drivers were allowed to travel at the speed best recommended by the Fusion EcoBoost’s on-board efficiency gauge for maximum gas mileage.

In reality, that was somewhere between 30 and 40 mph.

Third, as Ford details in its legal disclaimer accompanying the YouTube video of this particular publicity stunt, each person only drove 6.6 miles.

What’s more, the NASCAR drivers were allowed to coast to the finish, meaning the last part of the course was completed with no engine power at all. 

None of the above make it a real-world test. 

In fact, do the same test with any car, and we think you’d find it possible to exceed the EPA’s gas mileage predictions in anything from a 2012 Toyota Prius to a 2012 BMW 7-Series.

At the end of this particular video, Bayne challenges the viewer to “take the fuel efficiency challenge” in the 2013 Fusion EcoBoost for themselves. 

While we think it’s great that Ford wants to encourage drivers to be as economical as possible with their driving, we’d just like to remind you that the kind of extreme hypermiling tricks used in the video, aren’t always practical, or safe, in the real world.

As for gas mileage figures for new cars? 

It’s simple: stick to the official EPA gas mileage figures, and remember, your mileage WILL vary.


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