Ford Lowers C-Max MPG from 47 to 43 Combined

Ford is voluntarily changing its approach to measuring fuel economy labeling.  The EPA allowed the mpg to be reported the same for the Fusion and C-Max with only the Fusion being tested.  When the C-Max was tested, a decrease of the C-Max Hybrid mpg from 47 to 43 combined was documented.  According to, the new ratings for the C-Max will be 43 mpg combined, 45 city and 40 mpg highway.  The 2014 Ford C-Max, which will go on sale in December, is upgraded with new transmission gearing for a more efficient gear ratio and new hood seal, tire deflectors, A-pillar moldings, and lift gate deflectors to improve aerodynamics.  These changes for the 2014 model are in addition to the software changes already announced for 2013 C-Max Hybrids.    Ford hasn’t completed mpg testing yet for the 2014 C-Max Hybrid.  2013 C-Max Hybrid owners will get a goodwill payment check of $550.  Customers leasing a 2013 C-Max Hybrid will get a check for $325.  Owners with questions can contact Ford Customer Relationship Center via the web or phone at 800-392-3673.

Canadian owners will receive a check for $895 while customers leasing a C-Max Hybrid in Canada will get a check for $595.  Customers in Canada can contact the Ford Customer Relationship Center at 800-565-3673.

In the press release, Ford didn’t mention the C-Max Energi, whether it will get a MPG revision or if Energi owners will get a goodwill check too.  According to USA Today, the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi will still be rated at 44 city, 42 highway and 43 combined.

There also wasn’t any mention of the many lawsuits against Ford for mpg claims.  MPG claims for the C-Max were followed in these blogs, The Latest on The C-Max MPG StoryThe C-Max MPG Saga Continues, C-Max Hybrid Owner Starts Class-Action Suit Against Ford Over MPGFord C-Max Hybrid Lawsuit: C-Max Sold by Hyundai! Not Ford!Understanding The Ford C-Max and EPA “Why do Ford’s new hybrids ace the EPA fuel economy tests?”, and Owners Reporting Ford C-Max MPG Lower Than EPA Ratings.

First published Aug 16, 2013.  Updated Aug 17, 2013 with city and highway mpg published by and C-Max Energi mpg from  Updated October 7, 2013 with Canadian owner information.

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The Latest on The C-Max MPG Story

USA Today reported tonight that the EPA is finally preparing to test a Ford C-Max in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The paper said the EPA review is of hybrids that are capable of highway speeds on electric power alone.  They quoted Chris Grundler, EPA’s director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality as saying, “This is a different type of hybrid, and we need to understand it.”

Earlier this week, Wayne Gerdes of CleanMPG wrote an article on his comparison of the Ford C-Max Hybrid and the Toyota Prius V, entitled “Ford’s 47 mpg City/Highway/Combined Hybrid Ratings Ring Hollow”.   There are comments on this article in the PriusChat forum too.  I blogged on these CleanMPG tests and more last month in “The C-Max MPG Saga Continues.”  Today Toyota issued a press release with the following quote: “Recently, editors of tested the Ford C-MAX and the Prius v on a 365-mile-highway route at a steady cruise-control moderated speed. In this evaluation, the Prius v averaged 40.8 mpg and actually bested its EPA highway rating by 1.9 percent. On the same roads and using the same testing criteria, editors stated that the Ford C-MAX averaged 35.5 mpg, which is short of its stated EPA rating by 24.4 percent.”

The test implemented by CleanMPG is more than a month old.  What’s interesting is now Toyota is involved in the dispute over the C-Max and the MPG controversy.  I think it most likely means that the C-Max is viewed by Toyota as possibly hurting their Prius sales in the U.S. rather than just growing the hybrid marketshare of the vehicle market overall.  According to Mr. Gerdes, “To give you an example of how much effort has been expended on ‘Beating the Prius’, a search of Ford’s media site using the term ‘Prius’ reveals 4,380 results as of this afternoon [February 25, 2013].  That seems excessive given Toyota’s media site shows 0 hits for the term C-MAX and just 13 when inquiring on the Fusion.”  As of today, Toyota is now mentioning the C-Max.

The Detroit News reported today that San Diego based Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd and Redlands based McCuneWright, two California law firms, are consolidating lawsuits against Ford alleging “false and misleading” marketing for the C-Max.  The paper quoted a partner at McCuneWright, Rich McCune as stating, “There’s a lot of really unhappy people…We’ve received hundreds of calls from the few newspaper stories that have been around.”  I couldn’t find the new consolidated lawsuit at either firm’s website, but the original complaint filed by McCuneWright at their web site still states that the C-Max is sold by Hyundai rather than Ford as I reported in December.  Although it wasn’t reported by the Detroit News, there are other law firms interested in filing complaints against Ford.  Morgan & Morgan with offices in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee has been soliciting disgruntled C-Max and Fusion Hybrid owners and lesees.  Mehri & Skalet PLLC in Washington DC has also been soliciting owners.

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Understanding The Ford C-Max and EPA MPG

C-Max Rear Outside Passenger-side View

Many Ford C-Max Owners Report Lower MPG that 47 City, 47 Highway, 47 Combined

There’s been a multitude of articles discussing owners and journalists getting less than EPA mpg with the Ford C-Max.  I first wrote about this almost one month ago.  The controversy escalated to the mainstream news media when ConsumerReports published their news article on December 7th, “Tests show Ford Fusion, C-Max hybrids don’t live up to 47-mpg claims.”.  It was interesting to me that the Prius C and Prius also fell short of the EPA tests according to  Thursday, ConsumerReports published a second article, “Why do Ford’s new hybrids ace the EPA fuel economy tests?”  You’d think the two publications were incompatible.  The way these articles were blindly regurgitated by the media was irresponsible.  Last week, Ford C-Max didn’t live up to the “47-mpg claim” and now this week it’s “Ford’s new hybrids ace the EPA fuel economy tests”.  The answer is obvious.  Ford didn’t claim what ConsumerReports “claimed” they did in the first article title.  Ford only said what the mpg on the EPA test was.  That was their claim.  I decided I needed to do a little more research on the topic to add to my earlier discussion.


The photo above is a dynamometer, often shortened to dyno.  To perform the EPA test, the C-Max is positioned over the dyno.  The dyno is used for repeatability of the laboratory test.  It isn’t the real world.  The EPA doesn’t often perform the test.  The manufacturer does.  The EPA only checks some vehicles.  As I understand it, they checked the C-Max Energi but not the Ford C-Max or Fusion Hybrid.  The EPA doesn’t have the equipment, budget or manpower to test all variations of all vehicles sold in the U.S.

Before going further, please read this quote from an Edmunds article on the EPA MPG test, “… for the most part, the fuel-economy gap exists for a … mundane reason: Real people drive real cars in the real world. There are so many variables that the idea of an absolutely accurate rating of average mpg is laughable. But to new-car buyers, it often feels as if the joke is on them.”

I haven’t been able to locate a detailed description of the EPA tests.  However, the table and associated graphs at the Dept. of Energy site on the EPA MPG test is useful.  There are city, highway, high speed, AC and Cold Temp tests.  The average speed on the high speed test is 48.4 mph.  The highway test is 48.3.  The other three tests have an average speed of just 21.2 mph.  Now, does that sound like the way you drive?

An Edmunds article states calm drivers get up to 35 percent better fuel economy.  The region the vehicle is operated in can affect fuel economy by 12 percent.  The EPA test uses 100 percent gasoline but gasoline contains about 8 percent ethanol which accounts for a 2 percent decrease in fuel economy.  Do you carry passengers?  The EPA tests do not account for people or cargo in the vehicle. A Ford article states each 100 lbs in weight can affect fuel economy by up to 4 percent.

Now, many journalists have suggested Ford rigged the test.  But did they?  There is no evidence for this as far as I’ve been able to tell.  Recall that the MPG tests produce much lower MPG for the Prius C and Prius Liftback.  Here’s a quote from GreenCarReports on the EPA test and hybrids, “During the last decade, the test cycles were so unaggressive that hybrids spent far more time in electric mode on the tests than in the real world, producing wildly high ratings that few owners came anywhere close to.  Public complaints finally forced the EPA to revise its adjustment factors in late 2007, lowering hybrid fuel economy to levels closer to what owners actually achieved.”

I’m not defending Ford.  It may well be that it will be harder to reach the high forty MPG numbers with a C-Max in the real world than with a Prius.  It may be that it is easier to achieve MPG approaching or exceeding fifty with a Prius.  I just think there’s been an overabundance of misleading articles that were poorly researched on the subject.  Daniel Gray of MPGOMatic has been testing the C-Max Hybrid lately.  He’s listed nineteen real-world driving segments with details for the C-Max.  He’s also posted a video for the C-Max.

I decided to append to this article what I’ve read about how to achieve high MPG with the C-Max.  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.  Now for the suggestions on changing driving behavior.

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.  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.

There are other tips in the C-Max Manual on Page 246.  Now, as Daniel Gray of said in a video, “Get your foot off the gas and let gravity do it’s work.”

[This is not correct.  It was removed on December 29th from the main body of the blog.  “The EPA MPG test isn’t affected by aerodynamics at all.  This is important.  According to Ford, up to 50 percent of the energy required to operate most vehicles is spent overcoming wind resistance.”]


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