• 45-mpg highway fuel economy rating
  • Turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine
  • 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback versions

Ford announced official fuel economy ratings for its latest Fiesta subcompact sedan and hatchback, and the figures are impressive. The 2014 Ford Fiesta, when equipped with the newly available 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine and a manual transmission, offers the best fuel economy of any non-hybrid gasoline vehicle in the U.S.

Ratings for the Fiesta EcoBoost top out at 45 miles per gallon on the highway -- better than some fuel-efficient hybrid and diesel models. In city driving, the Fiesta is rated at an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 32 mpg. Buyers can choose either the 4-door sedan version or 5-door hatchback Fiesta, as fuel economy ratings are equal among the two. Those who choose an automatic transmission, though, will suffer a slight fuel economy penalty.

Still, even the automatic equipped Fiesta EcoBoost should provide an advantage over the base Fiesta, which uses a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy ratings for that model top out at 39 mpg on the highway with an automatic transmission.

Ford achieves the Fiesta EcoBoost's excellent fuel economy ratings with a smaller, turbocharged engine that has already proven popular in Europe, where gasoline is more expensive. While the engine is small, it's certainly powerful for its size. The 3-cylinder motor makes 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft torque. It also offers an overboost function that briefly increases torque to 145 lb-ft. By comparison, the Fiesta's base 1.6-liter 4-cylinder makes 120 hp and 112 lb-ft torque.

Fuel economy is important to most new-car shoppers, but it's especially important for the 2014 Ford Fiesta. Shoppers in the subcompact segment typically examine efficiency ratings closely, as many aim to find vehicles that are easy on gas and, as a result, easy on the pocketbook. Two key questions about the EcoBoost-powered 2014 Fiesta remain unanswered and may be significant factors in the car's success. First, what's the price premium compared to the Fiesta with the base 4-cylinder? Second, does the EcoBoost model require premium fuel?

Either -- or both -- of these factors could offset some of the savings from better fuel economy. We'll watch closely as more details on the 2014 Ford Fiesta with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost become available.

What it means to you: No conventional gasoline-powered car offers a higher fuel economy rating than the 2014 Ford Fiesta equipped with an EcoBoost motor and a manual transmission, though some hybrids can top its efficiency.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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