Hands on: Ford's glossy dual-LCD SmartGauge dashboard

When we first heard about Ford's SmartGauge technology, we liked the idea of an LCD dashboard that'll help you drive more economically. Today, the automaker let us take a spin around Manhattan in a 2010 Fusion Hybrid and check out the SmartGauge for real.

First impressions? It's pretty and clean. You've got all the usual information — such as how much fuel you have left and how many miles that'll take you — but the real fun starts with the EV meter. It shows you in real-time how the car's electric half is responding to your driving, and when the combustion engine will kick in. As long as you keep yourself within the bracket on the EV meter, you'll only use electricity — which can be replenished more efficiently by smooth braking. Ford tells us it's possible to drive at up to 47 MPH and still pull only from the electricity.

During our drive, the SmartGauge had us at 33 MPG, which is quite a bit under the projected 41 MPG the Fusion Hybrid is supposed to get in the city. That said, our EcoGuide, which sprouts a bunch of leaves the more efficiently you drive, was completely empty. We would have performed better if we controlled our acceleration and braking a bit more by paying attention to the EV meter.

All in all, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid handles as well as any gas guzzlin' sedan we've driven, with no noticeable hints of the car switching between electric and gas. The EV meter is bright and glossy, and it's a snap to glance down at it to see how you're doing. A second LCD between the seats gives you a lot more information about how you're driving, including a graph that will let you chart your performance over the last several weeks.

That's all a bunch of good news for the hybrid world. The bad news? The Fusion we were sitting in would cost around $29,000 at the dealership — though you'd certainly save on gas in the long run.

Via Ford