I wouldn't say duratec is the best, but makes more power, i thought the dohc's got better than 25 MPG too, heck i get 25-26.5 MPG daily in my 95 2.3 sohc and occasionally better. And i wouldnt say i drive slow. There are plenty of sohc 2.3 limas withstanding the test of time, racking up hundreds of thousands of miles with only the basics. Bang for the buck, id say sohc 2.3. w/ 5 Speed. I prefer my 2.3-4cyl over a v6 3 or 4 liter, not just for fuel economy but longevity.
Im not speaking bad of other engines just my opinion.
Puntadigital what MPG's does your 3.0 get?