Fuel efficiency is an elusive thing. If you have a hybrid or EV, efficiency is easy enough to achieve, but otherwise it's difficult to gauge (unless you're a professional driver). Ford's MyFord Touch system, set to launch on the 2011 Ford Edge starting this summer and on the upcoming 2012 Ford Focus, offers a simple way to stay efficient: the Eco-Route.
MyFord Touch uses historical and real-time traffic data to calculate the fastest, shortest, and most fuel-efficient ways to reach a destination. From Ford's press release:
Eco-Route is not necessarily the fastest or shortest route but is the most fuel efficient. Typically, it charts a course that avoids congested freeways while maximizing the use of major roads where the driver can maintain an efficient rate of speed. When Ford of Europe engineers tested the feature, they achieved up to a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy using the Eco-Route.
The MyFord system also offers up a bar chart next to the fuel display that shows real-time fuel economy performance along with mpg averages for the past 5, 10, and 30 minutes. Impressive stuff, but Ford has some competition. Garmin's similarly titled ecoRoute software offers many of the same options--it maps the most fuel efficient routes, tracks fuel usage over time, and features a report that keeps track of mileage and fuel use on a per-trip basis.
MyFord Touch isn't Ford's only high-tech fuel efficiency endeavor. The Ford Fusion Hybrid offers  an EcoGauge dashboard that displays the average mpg as well as a plant animation that grows leaves when fuel efficiency is up. It's cute, but Eco-Route is probably more useful--and less distracting.
Check out the Ford MyTouch system in action below. And hear more about Ford's innovations from CEO Alan Mulally here .