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[ Ford Fusion Named the Green Car of the Year 2013 ]

With two of its cars among the five finalists, Ford took the Green Car of the Year Award for its 2013 Fusion on Thursday at the LA Auto Show.

The newly redesigned, midsize sedan is offered with three different engines: gas-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid and gasoline. The base model starts at $21,700, while the gas-electric hybrid, rated at 47 mpg for both city and highway driving by the EPA, starts at $27,200.

The Fusion was recognized for its low petroleum use and low carbon dioxide emissions, as well as for its competitive pricing, reported the LA Times.

The Green Car Journal’s award is decided by a prestigious panel of judges, including environmental leaders such as Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, Global Green USA President Matt Petersen, and Ocean Futures Society president Jean-Michel Cousteau, along with car enthusiast and late night comedian Jay Leno and the journal’s staff.

“We’ve moved our brand from laggard to leader in fuel economy,” said Dave Mondragon, Ford’s general marketing manager as he accepted the award.

“The 2013 Ford Fusion approaches the market with a ‘game-on’ attitude,” said Ron Cogan, publisher of The Green Car Journal.

U.S. automakers were well represented in the group of finalists for the recognition. The Fusion was up against Ford’s own C-Max, the Dodge Dart Aero, the Mazda CX-5 SkyACTIV and the Toyota Prius c.

For its mileage, the Fusion is second only to the Prius c, which gets 53 mpg, according to the Detroit News.

Previous winners of the award include the 2012 Honda Civic GX Natural Gas, 2011 Chevrolet Volt, 2010 Audi A3 TDI, 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid, and the 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

Not everyone is impressed with the accolade, which is in its eighth year.

Michael Vaughn wrote in The Globe and Mail earlier this month that, “the five Green Car finalists … are all yawners. There are glaring omissions from the list and the ones that did make it all feature worthwhile but unexciting technology that we have seen before.”

But Ford’s Mondragon called it “a great testament for Ford,” and the award adds to some of the press attention that the car, which went on sale this fall, has already gotten. By several accounts, the 2013 Fusion is a very important model for the automaker, which is entering the popular (and crowded) midsize sedan market. Ford is betting that the Fusion, which it has billed as “the most fuel-efficient sedan in America,” will help it dominate that market.

(Related Photos: “Eleven Electric Cars Charge Ahead, Amid Obstacles“)

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