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Consumer Reports road testing finds Ford Fusion and C-MAX hybrids falling far short of EPA ratings

6 December 2012

Road testing by Consumer Reports has found the fuel economy on the 2013 Fusion Hybrid sedan and new C-Max Hybrid falling far short below Ford (and EPA) triple 47 mpg (5.0 l/100 km) figures—i.e., 47 mpg for city, highway and combined—for both vehicles.

Consumer Reports found the Fusion Hybrid delivered 39 mpg (6.0 l/100 km) overall and 35 (6.7 l/100 km) and 41 (5.7 l/100 km) in city and highway conditions, respectively. For the C-Max Hybrid, the results were 37 mpg (6.4 l/100 km) overall, with 35 (6.7 l/100 km) and 38 (6.2 l/100 km) for city and highway. Consumer Reports said that these two vehicles have the largest discrepancy between overall-mpg results and the estimates published by the EPA that it has seen among any current models.

Yes, the disclaimer on EPA fuel-economy labels notes that “your results may differ.” But the overall mpg for these C-Max and Fusion models is off by a whopping 10 and 8 mpg, respectively, or about 20 percent. Our overall-mpg results are usually pretty close to the EPA’s combined-mpg estimate. Among current models, more than 80 percent of the vehicles we’ve tested are within 2 mpg. The largest discrepancy we’ve previously seen was 7 and 6 mpg for the Toyota Prius C subcompact and Prius hatchback, respectively. And while our highway test results almost always meet or exceed the EPA highway numbers, our highway figures for these cars fell far below.

Make no mistake; both the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid still deliver excellent fuel economy. The Fusion Hybrid’s 39 mpg is the best of any family sedan we’ve tested, edging out the Toyota Camry Hybrid by 1 mpg. And the C-Max Hybrid’s 37 mpg is second only to the Prius V’s 41 mpg in its class. But our tests show that buyers shouldn’t expect the stellar 47 mpg that Ford is promoting.

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports methodology includes first putting 2,000 break-in miles on the vehicles after buying them from local dealerships. The testers then install a precision fuel meter in the fuel line. To measure the city mpg, they run the cars through the standard course on the test track, which consists of regimented speeds, multiple stops, and predetermined idle time. For the highway mpg, they twice drove the cars each way on a specific section of a local highway at 65 mph. Tests are run by multiple drivers on each vehicle, conducted only under certain weather conditions, and corrected for ambient temperature.

Most buyers won’t get anything near 47 mpg in the real world. Even though these two Ford hybrids are very efficient, this big discrepancy may leave customers disappointed.

—Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of auto testing

EPA fuel-economy estimates are the result of testing on a dynamometer. It’s worth noting, Consumer Reports pointed out, that automakers mostly self-certify their cars. Then, the EPA spot-checks about 15% of them with its own tests in a lab. Consumer Reports has reported its fuel-economy results to the EPA.

On the DOE/EPA fueleconomy.gov website, vehicle owners have reported an average 39.5 mpg for the Fusion hybrid (9 reports), with a low of 32 mpg and a high of 49 mpg. Owners also report an average 39.5 mpg for the C-MAX hybrid (23 reports), with a low of 35 mpg and a high of 45 mpg.

A Ford representative told Consumer Reports in an email:

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.

December 6, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

What's the point of a hybrid when I can get better mileage out of my VW Jetta TDI?

Not only that, but you get to pay for part of every HEV,PHEV and EV sold, thank you very much.

This is not a real surprise. Very few people can get the claimed mpg on most vehicles.

MP....my son-in-law never gets much over 800 Km, in the last 2+ years, instead of the claimed 1100+ Km per tank full with his VW Jetta TDI. His Jetta TDI was checked and re-checked by VW without improvement. About 75+% of the 140 Km/day is on highways at about 70-75 mph.

Speaking from experience with a TDI, slowing down to 65 MPH achieves a large increase in fuel economy.  At 45 MPH, the vehicle would achieve close to 50% over rated highway economy.

Same is likely true for most every car - By letting my 6 speed AT car settle into 5th gear at 40 mph it gets 47 mpg at 1250 rpm vs the rated 22-32 mpg. Normal driving gets about 20city - 28hiway mpg.

CR runs their hwy cycle at 65mph, while the EPA test averages 48mph.. Ford has just optimized the hardware/software in their hybrids to take full advantage of that 48mph average speed. Each extra mpg they can eek out of the EPA allows them to sell a few more Mustang Boss with 444 ponies on tap :)

Traditionally just slowing down to 65 would get you the EPA ratings with many cars, but not so anymore. Is it FORD somehow lying?.. no

"What's the point of a hybrid when I can get better mileage out of my VW Jetta TDI?"

Just make sure you sell that TDI before major maintenance is due or the warranty expires.. or you will get a nasty surprise. Fuel economy does not totally define cost of ownership.

What kind of city mileage you get out of your TDI?.. compare that to any Prius which often exceed 50mpg.

47 MPG ?? OOPS .

I'm sorry, I meant 37 mpg above.

The city mpg of the typical hybrid demonstrates how incredibly well regeneration works.

Based on what Herm says, Consumer Reports should also point out, in fairness, that they test at 65mph vs 48 mph for the EPA.

On the other hand does the EPA cycle average only 48 mph on the highway? If the cycle involves no braking (only accel/decel) then it is very unrealistic.

When a typical reasonable driver averages only 48 mph on the freeway it is usually with frequent braking - and that ruins your mpg; and much more so if he is "pushing" the car ahead or weavs thru traffic like a mounted cavalier.

It appears that Ford may have gamed the EPA test (full battery at start of test, depleted at end?). Many cars do attain or exceed their EPA mileage in real-world usage--e.g. 2012 Honda Civic EPA 32, actual 34.5 (fueleconomy.gov) or 35 (fuelly.com). Another example: 2012 Camry Hybrid LE: EPA 41 actual 41.1 fueleconomy.gov) or 39.5 (fuelly.com). There is no excuse for being 20% high.

Ford is going to have an ongoing public relations problem. As more and more of these cars are sold, the problem is only going to build.

If these shortcoming are significantly worse than for other car makers and if the media/administration perceives Ford as evil, it may be a PR problem.

But all auto makers strive to game the EPA test.

And all autos (and often hybrids more so) get less than the EPA rating.

And the Leaf battery problem has not hit the media.

Nor has the Prius battery/charge controller problem (weak cells overload the charge system and when it goes the car is totaled).

Bah.  It's easy to beat the EPA ratings in many cars, especially VW TDIs.

There seems to be a common belief that Consumer Reports has an issue with American cars.

We all know that Ford designed some aspects of the C-Max to maximize MPG when tested per the EPA testing methods; duh.

Consumer Reports should complain to the EPA, and not imply an automobile manufacturer lies.

That's why I am hereby implying that Consumer Reports lies.

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