Mark this one down as another useful innovation from the folks at the Blue Oval: the SmartGauge with EcoGuide, which can be found on 2010 and 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid as well as the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, is no ordinary instrument cluster.
Unlike most other instrument clusters, SmartGauge with EcoGuide is completely digital — allowing it to be more flexible in the way it shows vehicle information to the driver. For instance, the cluster provides information about the high voltage battery, fuel level, speed, and instantaneous fuel economy. And while all that sounds like something a regular instrument cluster is capable of doing, the real value here lies in the way in which SmartGauge presents this information — in easy-to-understand colors and icons; no confusing needles or static (and ugly) dials.
Yet possibly the most interesting part of the SmartGauge is the EcoGuide, which coaches the driver to conduct their vehicle in such a way so as to maximize fuel economy; EcoGuide does this by displaying green leaves (known as efficiency leaves) at the far right of the information cluster that grow as the Fusion/MKZ Hybrid is driven more efficiently. Here’s a brief video of the SmartGauge in action in the now-discontinued Mercury Milan Hybrid:
But we haven’t yet considered what may possibly be the best part of SmartGauge: since the cluster is completely digital, Ford can theoretically deliver future improvements to it by way of software updates — just as it has done with its SYNC infotainment systems. To top it all off, Ford was recently awarded two patents covering SmartGauge with EcoGuide! Your move, Toyota.