During American Idol Tuesday evening, Ford launched the “We Speak Car” marketing campaign to sell the 2010 Fusion and Fusion Hybrid. The ads tout the Fusion Hybrid as “America’s most fuel efficient mid-size sedan,” which is awfully misleading because the 2010 Prius (50 mpg combined) is technically the most fuel efficient mid-size vehicle. It’s just not classified as a sedan.

Still, the Fusion Hybrid gets 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg highway, which is higher than other hybrid sedans in its class like the Toyota Camry Hybrid (33 city/34 highway). Below is the ad, which emphasizes the Fusion Hybrid’s fuel economy:

Yawn. Why get excited about a 2010 hybrid with essentially the same combined mileage as the 2001 Prius? No matter what Alan Mulally says, Ford seems a bit late to the hybrids party and all too willing to sacrifice engine efficiency to boost horsepower (Fusion: net 194 hp).

But two things I can get excited about:

The 2010 Fusion Hybrid is eligible for a $3,400 tax credit if purchased before March 31, 2009, and $1,700 before Sept. 9, 2009. That’s a solid discount off the $27,995 base price.

Ford’s new SmartGauge display that comes in the 2010 Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid is hot. This is probably the most advanced instrument panel on the market that emphasizes fuel economy and rewards for good driving behavior. As you drive more efficiently, the LCD tree (vine?) to the right of the speedometer grows more leaves. Take 38 seconds to watch the demo video below from AutoblogGreen.