The news on the low mpg ratings reported by owners, journalists, and ConsumerReports continues to evolve. Now the LA Times reports that the EPA will be reviewing the mpg for the Ford Fusion and C-Max.
ConsumerReports has done its own testing of the C-Max Hybrid. ConsumerReports states, “These two vehicles [Fusion and C-Max Hybrid] have the largest discrepancy between our overall mpg results and the estimates published by the EPA that we’ve seen among any current models.” The difference for the C-Max was 10 mpg less, Fusion Hybrid 8 mpg less, Toyota Prius C 7 mpg less and Toyota Prius 6 mpg less. ConsumerReports measured the mpg for the C-Max Hybrid as 35 city, 38 highway, and 37 overall according to the LA Times.
Most of the owners on Fuelly are getting below the EPA 47 mpg for the C-Max. There are a lot of other comments from new owners of the Hybrid and now the Energi where they don’t get anywhere near the EPA city, highway, or combined miles per gallon. A posting on the PriusChat.com web site on the the EPA testing states that the EPA may have only tested the C-Max Energi, which is rated at 44 City/ 41 Hwy/ 43 Combined. The number of articles that focus on the low mpg for the C-Max Hybrid are increasing lately. These often mention Fuelly.com or “anecdotal” evidence though. It’s possible for anyone to enter Fuelly data that is not correct. One user even entered an average mpg of just 21.7.
I think real-world MPG is a concern to many of us. Is there something wrong with the car? Did Ford engineer the car to get the best possible results on the EPA tests but in the real world it doesn’t mean as much? Does it have anything to do with winter driving when all of these hybrids are being released. Does it have anything to do with the measurement methods owners are using?
The LA Times quotes an official Ford response to the ConsumerReports results, “Early C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid customers praise the vehicles and report a range of fuel economy figures, including some reports above 47 mpg. This reinforces the fact that driving styles, driving conditions, and other factors can cause mileage to vary.”
According to an article in AutomotiveNews.com, “So where’s the 47 mpg on my C-Max?”, driving faster than 60 mph maybe be one of the biggest factors. On Friday, AutoGuide.com had this article, “EPA: Drivers to Blame For Lower Fuel Economy.” Ford has included the “EcoGuide Lush Vine” and “Brake Coach” to help train drivers to get better mileage. “EV+”, which needs to learn GPS data, could take awhile to get GPS data acquired before it improves mileage (it can also be turned off by the user). “EcoCruise” (which can be switched off) is also important to get better mileage. According to John Davis, Ford’s Chief Engineer for the C-Max, once the vehicle is broken in it will achieve 1 to 2 percent better fuel efficiency too.
John Voelcker of GreenCarReports.com reported recently on the new Ford hybrids (C-Max/Fusion and Hybrid/Energi) failing to live up to EPA ratings for many owners and journalists. Engineers he talked to suggested that because these new Ford hybrids have so much more horsepower than some vehicles (like the Prius) that drivers are using that extra horsepower. When they do, their MPG suffers. This Top Gear video illustrates how a Prius can get lower MPG than a BMW. It depends on how you drive it.
I think it is clear that we as drivers are going to have a learning curve to get the best possible MPG and MPGe (Energi only) out of our vehicles. In the meantime, we’re all going to wonder whether the numbers reported by EPA/Ford for the C-Max is correct. I might add, I have seen a few reports of drivers obtaining much better than 43 (Energi)/47 (Hybrid) MPG.
The forum at CleanMPG.com has some 55-70 mph “steady-state” tests for the C-Max Hybrid. The results are: 55 mph 51.6 mpg indicated 50.1 actual; 60 mph 46.0 mpg indicated 44.67 actual; 65 mph 43.15 mpg indicated 41.9 actual; 70 mph 40.75 mpg indicated 39.57 actual.
Natasha at the Ford C-Max Facebook page posted this useful information on MPG.
During winter months, you may experience lower fuel economy due to a number of factors:
• More idling to warm up a vehicle
• Low tire pressure – a 10 degree drop in ambient temperature equates to a 1 psi drop in tire pressure
• Increased tire rolling resistance
• Engine takes longer to reach maximum operating temperature
• Lubricant viscosity of engine, transmission, and differential fluids affected
• Gasoline formulations and additives to aid vaporization can reduce available energy
• Higher electrical loads for lights, heaters, defrosters may increase draw on engine
• Denser air when cold causes aerodynamic drag
Also, the average fuel economy estimates are determined using EPA-specified testing methods, which are intended to account for real world conditions, but may not match your exact driving conditions. … these tips will help increase your fuel efficiency as well.
Finally, here are some useful quotes from the C-Max manual for those interested in measuring fuel economy.
Calculating Fuel Economy (Ford 2013 C-Max Owners Guide, 1st Printing, Page 196)
1. Fill the fuel tank completely and record the initial odometer reading.
2. Each time you fill the tank, record the amount of fuel added.
3. After at least three to five tank fill-ups, fill the fuel tank and record the current odometer reading.
4. Subtract your initial odometer reading from the current odometer reading.
5. Calculate fuel economy as follows:
Standard: Divide miles traveled by gallons used.
Metric: Multiply liters used by 100, then divide by kilometers traveled.
Keep a record for at least one month and record the type of driving (city or highway). This provides an accurate estimate of the vehicle’s fuel economy under current driving conditions. Additionally, keeping records during summer and winter show how temperature impacts fuel economy. In general, lower temperatures mean lower fuel economy.
Driving to Optimize Fuel Economy (Ford 2013 C-Max Owners Guide, 1st Printing, Pages 180-181)
Note: Having your engine running is not always an indication of inefficiency. In some cases, it is actually more efficient than driving in electric mode. Your fuel economy should improve throughout your hybrid’s break-in period. As with any vehicle, fuel economy can be significantly impacted by your driving habits, accessory usage, temperature and terrain. For best results, keep in mind these tips:
• Keep the tires properly inflated and only use the recommended size.
• Aggressive driving increases the amount of energy required to move your vehicle. In general, better fuel economy is achieved with mild to moderate acceleration and deceleration. Moderate braking is particularly important since it allows you to maximize the energy captured by the regenerative braking system.
• Do not carry extra loads
• Be mindful of adding external accessories that may increase aerodynamic drag
• Observe posted speed limits
• Perform all scheduled maintenance
• There is no need to wait for your engine to warm up. The vehicle is ready to drive immediately after starting
This article was first published Nov 18, 2012. It was retitled and revised on Nov 21, 2012. It was updated on November 29th, December 3rd, December 4th, December 5th, December 6th, and December 7th 2012. Photo added January 19th, 2013.