C-Max Hybrid Numbers Questioned

Ford Focus ST
Ford Focus ST

One of the most prestigious market review companies, Consumer Reports, announced last Thursday its discovery of an apparent discrepancy in the numbers proclaimed by Ford. The report focused on the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the C-Max Hybrid and it highlighted the fact that these two vehicles fall short of the estimated fuel economy numbers as required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The government agency numbers that are placed on the window labels of these Ford models are 47 mpg city, 47 highway, and 47 combined. According to the Consumer Reports tests, the Fusion Hybrid was only able to muster 39 mpg combined while the C-Max Hybrid was able to reach only 37 mpg overall. The consumer rights organization said that the discrepancies in the numbers in its test results and the EPA numbers were the largest difference ever seen with the current models.

There is a disclaimer though that says, “your results may differ” but these numbers are determined by automobile manufacturers in dynamometer testing using a prescribed driving sequence. The EPA is said to spot check about 15 percent of the new car fleet in its own test labs.

Ford issued a statement in response to the Consumer Reports test results. It said, “Early C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid customers praise the vehicles and report a range of economy figures, including some reports above 47 mpg. This reinforces the fact that driving style, driving conditions and other factors can cause mileage to vary.”

Wesley Sherwood, spokesperson for Ford, also stated that an independent forum for C-Max owners had comments on fuel economy. Some commented that they reached no better than the Consumer Reports results and others shared that they were able to reach the EPA estimates.

The Consumer Reports challenge has become a big issue in the car world, especially after Hyundai and Kia were forced to reimburse its buyers for overstating the fuel economy of some of their vehicles. The EPA discovered the discrepancies after it conducted an investigation on Hyundai and Kia mileage after numerous complaints from its owners. The automaker later admitted that it provided inaccurate numbers.

Despite the admission, the consumer advocate firm extolled the fuel economy numbers of the Hyundai Elantra. This was seconded by the EPA, as it was also cited for its fuel efficiency. In a review, Tom Mutchler, an automotive engineer at Consumer Reports said that the Elantra “gets very impressive fuel economy. We got nearly 40 mpg on the highway in our tests.” Mr. Mutchler also tested the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, a vehicle similarly cited by the EPA. He criticized the vehicle’s on-road behavior, braking and handling but gave good marks for its fuel efficiency.

In highlighting the discrepancies in the Ford vehicles, Consumer Reports also stated that it had not yet concluded the testing of the Ford Fusion and the C-Max hybrids. It did praise the Fusion, saying (the Fusion) “is a sold well-rounded package.” On the other hand, the C-Max was called “a very practical package that also drives well.” They also said that despite the discrepancies, the numbers were considered as very good as the 39 mpg of the Fusion is the leading number of all tested family sedans while the C-Max placed second behind class leader the Toyota Prius V.