How To Improve MPG with The Ford C-Max

C-Max Gas Cap

Improving MPG with the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi

By writing this blog, I am not stating there is not a problem with the C-Max resulting in lower than expected MPG.  I don’t know.  Many owners of the C-Max Hybrid are reporting lower than the EPA MPG for the C-Max Hybrid, a story I first wrote about in November.  The ConsumerReports tests brought it to the attention of the media in December and a class action lawsuit followed later in the month.  I pointed out that the lawsuit had an error stating Hyundai sold the C-Max.  I’ve also written a blog on understanding the EPA MPG measurement method.   As I’ve written these blogs, I’ve written about methods to improve the MPG for C-Max drivers.  I decided it was important to collect these ideas in one location.  This blog will be continuously updated as information is obtained.  Please add suggestions for obtaining better MPG in the comments.

Understand the Instrument Panel Displays.

Instrument Panel Cluster Display

Energi Instrument Panel Overview, Short Version

Energi Instrument Panel Overview, Long Version

Energi Display Mode: Range, Inform, Enlighten, Engage, Empower and MyView

Energi, EV Now, EV Later, and Auto EV

Energi EV Range and Instantaneous Fuel Gauge

Fuel Economy Menu in Instrument Panel Cluster Display

Trip and Lifetime Summary

Setting Trip Data

Use the Brake Coach.

Use EV+ and ECO Cruise Control. Do not turn them off.  Let the C-Max learn common GPS locations to improve MPG.

Learn “Pulse and glide” and other techniques that hybrid owners use to get better MPG.  The effectiveness of these methods could vary depending on the hybrid.  I have not tested them with the C-Max Hybrid or Energi.  A good article for ideas is, “Hypermiling (Saving Lots of Fuel) in a Hybrid; How to Get Maximum Fuel Mileage From Your Hybrid.”    Another good blog on improving fuel economy, “Beating the EPA – The Why’s and How to Hypermile”, was posted by Wayne Gerdes at

Do not drive aggressively.  This includes accelerating rapidly from a stop, braking hard at the last possible second, and weaving to change lanes to get around other cars.  Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 5 to 33 percent.  Anticipate traffic conditions, curving roads, and traffic lights to minimize braking.  Let up on the gas pedal early to minimize braking.

Slow down to the speed limit.  Speeding can affect fuel economy by 7 to 25 percent.  MPG decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.  It appears as though there is a big difference with the C-Max driving at 60 and just a few mph faster, e.g., 64 mph.  The C-Max Hybrid cannot drive more than 62 mph in EV mode.  The C-Max Energi can drive up to 85 mph in EV mode.  However, driving at high speeds will still use kWh much faster than lower speeds with the Energi.  Reducing your speed from 65 to 55 mph can improve your fuel economy by 10 to 15 percent.  Reducing your speed from 70 to 55 mph can improve your fuel economy by 25 percent.

Remove excess weight.  Excess weight can reduce mpg by 1-4 percent per 100 pounds.  It affects the C-Max more than large vehicles.

Use cruise control.  Maintaining a constant speed will save gas in most instances.  When driving with cruise control, it is easier to control the maximum speed too.  The C-Max will display the mpg while driving.  To maximize fuel efficiency, set the cruise control speed within the legal speed limit to maximize the mpg on the display.

Use the air conditioner only when needed.  Using the AC reduces fuel economy by up to 15 percent.  In a city, roll down windows and turn the AC off.  Driving above 50 mph with the windows down will increase drag and decrease fuel efficiency more than using the AC.  When using AC, the recirculation setting reduces the air that must be chilled from outside the car.  Using just the fan to circulate unchilled air is more efficient than using the AC.

Start driving when the engine starts.  Modern engines do not need to warm up.  The car warms up faster when the car is running.  However, the engine is most efficient when warm.  Combine trips when possible to avoid infrequent short trips starting with a cold engine.

Keep the tires properly inflated.  Michelin Energy Saver Tires should be on the car when you buy it.  There is a discussion of other tires that may be far less fuel efficient being used on some new cars at the PriusChat forum.

Perform scheduled maintenance.

Do not add external accessories which can affect aerodynamic drag.  Bike carriers, luggage racks, and flags increase aerodynamic drag and lower MPG.  Driving with your windows open above about 50 mph will increase aerodynamic drag and decrease MPG.  The advantage of using the A/C less will be lost to worse aerodynamics for the car.

After your engine warms up, drive it.  There is no need to let it warm up.

Now, as Daniel Gray of said in a video, “Get your foot off the gas and let gravity do it’s work.”

C-Max Energi Empower Gauge

Learning to use the Empower gauge is important to improve mpg with the C-Max.

This article was first published on January 5th, 2013.  It was updated on January 16th, 2013.


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24 thoughts on “How To Improve MPG with The Ford C-Max

  1. Thanks for this article. I recently purchased a cmax and it has been wonderful. I just 1000 miles today. For the past two tanks I have been getting about 43 mpg.

  2. I purchased a Ford Cmax two weeks ago, I have to say this is one very nice vehicle. Handles like a sport car, rides like a caddy, nice and roomy inside, sits very comfy, very solid and quiet.
    So far am at 40MPG after two weeks and still climbing. I just don’t think people are patient enough. It takes time for these Hybrids to learn and adapt and achieve good mileage, You just can’t hop in one and expect 50MPG in 100 miles.
    Well that is my take on it, will post again after I am over 1000 miles.

    • I am now at 10,000 miles, my lifetime average is 46, most trips I achieve over 50, my best is 60. What a wonderful car. But, don’t expect this type of mileage on the express, maybe 43-44 at best, car does best watching empower mode, staying under 55 or right at 55.

      Dan Panici
      Happy C-Max owner

  3. We are on week 4 with our CMax and we love it. We are getting 51 mpg in town. We do everything we can to improve our mileage. Our 1 highway trip, we averaged 44 mpg, but we had 300 extra pounds of passenger on board so the 44 seemed pretty darn good. We love the way you sit up high and have much better visibility than usual in a car. We love the feeling of gliding through the air. Finally, it’s kind of fun “playing the game” of watching the mph realtime feedback and trying to outdo each other on our braking performance and mpg. We plan to keep this car for many years. That’s saying tons coming from 2 people who spent the past 7 years driving a huge F350 pick up truck!

  4. I bought a CMax last year, and really like it. According to Empower I was ar 40 to 44.5 for almost 6 months. Since then it shows 39.3 and has not budged since. Any thoughts to improve or is this likely the best it will be?

  5. Try pressing the reset for your daily trip mileage counter, it will zero it out and start counting again and should go back to a higher number. I have to reset mine when going from winter to spring. The hybrids always get lower mileage in the winter and then once it warms up the mileage improves but it takes the counter forever to show that. I have 30K on my C-Max, life time average is 45.1, in good weather I can obtain a trip average of 46-55, but in bad winter weather am lucky to get a trip average of 41-43.
    If you do a lot of expressway driving at higher speeds your trip mileage will be lower as the hybrid part doesn’t do much at 70-80 MPH.

    • I have a 2014 C-Max Energi, our only trip at 75 mph was from Bangor to Houlton Maine a few weeks ago. I set the cruse on 75 mph in Bangor and around 180 miles later we exited in Houlton. I had reset the MPG when we filled up in Bangor and I had about 75% charge on the plug-in battery and it ran out about 15 miles into the trip. We averaged 45.7 mpg. The car had 2 adults and lots of luggage in it. So far driving a 63 mile round trip to work and back I’m averaging 68-74 mpg over the last 3 weeks.

  6. I have filled up 3 times since i have purchased my cmax. Each time I reset the trip odometer and I have noticed that the miles used is always 1 gallon less then what I put in. This leads me to believe that the mpg is off. Has anyone else noticed this?

    BTW, my mpg has been between 43-47. But if I add and extra gallon that drops the mpg…

  7. Chadpatt…What the C-Max Hybrid does when gas is added to the tank, it tries to calculate based on your latest MPG how far your tank will travel. I have checked my C-Max the old fashion way, add gas, drive so many miles, add gas and see what was used then divide miles driven by gallons used and the C-Max calculations have always matched. It could be that by constantly resetting the trip metrics it would throw off the calculations. I am not sure by your post exactly what you are doing?

  8. Lex Newcomb…I have driven my C-Max Hybrid on the interstate but the speed limits around here are 65-70, the mileage still does quite well 43-45. I would imagine though at higher speeds the mileage will start to drop as the engine rpm is quite high at those speeds. Although the C-Max Hybrid is suppose to operate at speeds up to 85, I just don’t know how much it would help.

  9. I have a 2013 Ford C Max . Do not need to plug in . Love it but it shows 713 . I am not sure if this means mpg or k pe 100 litres . Ether way I do not know what it means . Would like to change this so it makes sense to me . Thank you .

  10. I got C-max SEL 3.5 years ago and I do travel a lot. Car has 84500 miles and still gets 43-45 mpg. Maintenance and moderate acceleration is the key. I am very happy with my purchase and thinking of 2017 C-max Energi

  11. I’m into my 3rd year of C-Max energy ownership, and am averaging approximately 77 mpg (good electric vehicle driving pattern, grocery, gym, entertainment all nearby). Is there any website where high mpg owners can share tips and mpg performance?

  12. My mpg is still hovering around 93, but that’s because it’s an Energi and many of my miles are driven in EV mode. I am loving the C-Max, but do admit feeling despair when one of my energy leaves floats away. I’m learning how to brake, how to accelerate, how to coast, and how to drive at the “sweet spot” that gives you the most returned energy.

  13. I have 43,000 miles and I get about 14 miles to a charge while running the heater in winter. I’m hoping that it improves when I’m not needing to use the power-hungry accessories. I’m surprised that my overall MPG is only 40. Took it on a 300mi road trip and found the efficiency disappointing. Maybe it’s using the heater?

  14. I have read that it’s better to use the heated seat when you can, and forego the heater and the blower. Of course, that’s not always possible. I get around 14 miles to a charge as well.

    Remember that the MPG of an electric hybrid depends entirely on how far from home you routinely drive! If you drive like Joe Smith, all local, your MPG is going to be lots better than if you have a fifty-mile commute.

  15. I have been driving Hybrids since they came to the market, I drive a 2013 C Max Energy and a 2017 Fusion Energy. My lifetime mileage on the C Max with 27,170 miles on Odometer is 140.4 mpg and on the Fusion which is used more for long distance driving is 55.2 mpg with 10,800 miles on the odometer. I get consistently over 25 miles on a charge even in the winter. My cars are garage kept and on the short trips in town I use my heated seats, using the heater I still get around 19 miles on a charge. My best tank of gas was 355 mpg and my worse was 36 mpg. I have not put gas in the CMax for over 4 months and it is still 3/4 full. This next tank will be my best tank and probably be over 500 mpg who knows it may be over 1000 mpg it depends if I take it out on the highway or just keep using the Fusion for those drives. I just got back from a 5,000+ mile trip in the Fusion consisting of 3 1/2 months and it averaged over 50 mpg. Most of my highway tanks where in the high 50’s low 60’s. These freeway drives were using cruise control set at the speed limits, normal 70 mph. In mild temps below 100 degrees I get over 30 miles on a charge in both the Fusion and CMax. My best charge was 53 miles on a charge, my worse charge was somewhere around 10 miles. Both cars have been trouble free the CMax had a couple recalls to reset computer programing and upgrade the modem. My monthly driving score on My Ford Mobile is 99% and so far over 3,000 miles on my tank of gas in the CMax. My goal is to not use the CMax for any highway driving and to never put gas in it again, not until I am forces to top it off by the computer programming.

  16. Thank you very much for this article. However, most of the youtube links seem to be broken. Can anyone provide alternate links or repost those youtube videos? Thank you!

  17. I am a 2013 c max owner from Jordan.

    i really have a bad millage, the RPM is always high. “No check engine sign”

    any ideas what could be the reasons behind this?



  18. This is normal operation during very cold temps. Tjis protects the HVB. If it does it always.even if not cold then seek service. This is all explained in the owners.manual.

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