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Ford will also give cash payments of $550 to buyers of the C-Max

The writing has been on the wall for months, but it looks as though Ford is finally listening to its countless critics. After a few lawsuits, blowback from publications like Consumer Reports, and even findings from actual drivers, Ford has lowered the fuel economy ratings for its C-Max hybrid.
 
The C-Max was previously rated at 47/47/47 (city/highway/combined), but the company announced today that it would lower those numbers to 45/40/43 (city/highway/combined). The biggest hit came on the highway, where the C-Max saw its rating drop by seven miles per gallon. The new combined rating puts the C-Max just one mile per gallon higher than its chief rival: the Toyota Prius v.
 
In addition, customer that bought a C-Max will receive a $550 cash rebate from Ford; lessees will receive $325.


2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
 
“Ford is absolutely committed to being a leader in the hybrid market and to top fuel efficiency across our lineup,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, global product development. “We are taking actions with our popular C-MAX Hybrid so that customers are even more satisfied with the vehicle’s on-road fuel efficiency performance.”

In its testing, Consumer Reports indicated that the C-Max was only good for 35/38/37 (city/highway/combined). In response to Consumer Reports' story, Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said in April, "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."
 
For their part, C-Max drivers over at Fuelly reported an average of 40.2 mpg combined -- still nearly three miles per gallon below Ford's new combined rating.


C-Max drivers on Fuelly.com showed just how optimistic the original ratings were
 
"This is an industrywide issue with hybrid vehicles," explained Nair. "We've learned along with EPA that the regulations create some anomalies for hybrid vehicles under the general label rule."
 
Ford isn't the only automaker that recently had to revise its inflated fuel economy ratings; Hyundai/Kia was taken to task when it overstated the fuel economy on a number of 2012 and 2013 models. It too instituted a cash repayment program for affected drivers.


Updated 8/15/2013 @ 8:39pm
The EPA has explained [PDF] the reason why the C-Max was previously rated for 47 mpg across the board, and why the new numbers are lower. It appears that Ford used a provision in the EPA testing to allow it to use the fuel economy numbers from the Fusion Hybrid on the C-Max because they used the same powertrain and weighed the same. However, the Fusion is a more aerodynamic vehicle, hence the huge discrepancy in the real world on the C-Max:
 
Ford based the 2013 Ford C-Max label on testing of the related Ford Fusion hybrid, which has the same engine, transmission and test weight as allowed under EPA regulations. For the vast majority of vehicles this approach would have yielded an appropriate label value for the car, but these new vehicles are more sensitive to small design differences than conventional vehicles because advanced highly efficient vehicles use so little fuel. 
 
In this case, EPA’s evaluation found that the C-Max’s aerodynamic characteristics resulted in a significant difference in fuel economy from the Fusion hybrid.

Sources: Automotive News, Ford



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The problem
By Monkey's Uncle on 8/15/2013 7:18:08 PM , Rating: 1
Has anyone every been able to replicate the advertised mileage on their car without coasting downhill in neutral with a tailwind? I can't.

The problem is that car makers are doing their own testing and sending their results to the EPA for validation.

The EPA in its own judgement can do spot audit testing to confirm the manufacturers results. How often is this actually done and what happens if the results do not exactly match the EPA audit? Nobody says. How many times does the EPA throw out an botched audit by chalking it up to manufacturing tolerances?

There is some reason coming though. The EPA is revising their test protocols (to be followed by manufacturers) to take into account fast starts, his speed driving and usage of air conditioning. These should help bring mileage figures more in line with real life use.




RE: The problem
By artemicion on 8/15/2013 7:41:48 PM , Rating: 2
I drive a 2012 Ford Focus, which is advertised as something like 32 mpg combined, and my dash reads 31 mpg, so I'm pretty close. Granted, that is assuming the dash readout is accurate and that my driving routes are equivalent to whatever "combined" is supposed to mean.


RE: The problem
By Souka on 8/15/2013 11:40:40 PM , Rating: 3
I have a 2004 Prius.. it's EPA ratings is 60city/50hwy. In flat city traffic I'll get 42. Flat highway I'll get near 60.

Typical 500+ miles per tank... 48 mpg combined driving mostly to-from work (17miles each way)

60mpg city? no way....


RE: The problem
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/15/2013 11:51:56 PM , Rating: 3
It was rated at 60/50 before the EPA busted Toyota and hybrids in general (that was the last time the EPA formula was changed drastically -- to address hybrids).

Your Prius is actually now rated at 48/45/46 (city/highway/combined), so your 48 combined number is actually better than EPA.


RE: The problem
By Samus on 8/16/2013 12:56:55 AM , Rating: 3
Sometimes ratings are higher. It's all conditional. The last two weeks in Chicago has been mild 70's with little wind pressure. I've been driving without the AC with a IAT (intake air temperature) of 74 degrees and achieved 33.2MPG on a 450 mile round-trip to Michigan when my vehicle is rated at 31MPG highway. I was also cruising at 70-75MPH when I know these EPA tests are often done at 55-60MPH.

I hate to post information like this because everything is very conditional (although the temperature was consistent and terrain was, as the Midwest is, flat. But compensation for wind, fuel quality, potty stops, and passenger weight (there were 2.2 of us) are all variables, too.

But my point is, you can achieve better than EPA estimates, but unfortunately, most people achieve worse, and that's the problem.


RE: The problem
By Solandri on 8/16/2013 2:08:46 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
But my point is, you can achieve better than EPA estimates, but unfortunately, most people achieve worse, and that's the problem.

The EPA ratings aren't meant to be a predictor for the mileage you'll get. They're meant to allow you to comparison shop between different cars. That is, if car A has a 30 mpg EPA rating and car B has a 40 mpg rating, that doesn't mean you'll get 30 mpg and 40 mpg in the two cars respectively. But whatever mileage you do get, you can expect it to be a roughly 3:4 ratio.

I've pretty much decided the EPA should abandon efforts to make the EPA mileage rating seem like a realistic MPG rating. Instead they should emphasize the average annual fuel cost (which is currently relegated to the fine print on the EPA sticker). That'll get people to stop incorrectly comparing the EPA mileages to the actual mileage they get. And it'll also correct the misguided bias MPG gives to high-mileage vehicles due to MPG being the inverse of fuel consumption (we'd save more fuel by improving the efficiency of low-MPG vehicles like trucks).


RE: The problem
By BRB29 on 8/16/2013 7:25:20 AM , Rating: 2
I always choose the Ford Focus for highway driving from DC to Rochester, NY. The highway mpg for the Focus is 36 and I average 40 every time going 10 mph above speed limit.

So yes you can beat it.

My Infiniti M37x may get a lofty 22mpg on the highway even though it's rated higher at 26.


RE: The problem
By praeses on 8/15/2013 8:50:10 PM , Rating: 2
I can only achieve the advertised mpg of the vehicles I drive when using ethanol-free fuel. Typically best at the lowest octane (least additives) that the car is specified to run on.

That is when I am trying to drive economically. That is not normal however, as that would mean that I do not have winter tires on (3-5months of the year), not when I have my typical half-full trunk, bunch of passengers, and am driving at a normal pace.


RE: The problem
By kurahk7 on 8/15/2013 9:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
I can. I drive a 1991 Honda Accord. It's rated at 27mpg highway. I achieve that all time just driving to and from school(20 miles each way). I calculate my mpg by filling up and dividing the total miles driven by the gallons filled.


RE: The problem
By Jedi2155 on 8/15/2013 11:05:09 PM , Rating: 2
My old 2003 Honda Civic LX was rated at 25/34/29 (City/Hwy/Comb) and I was often getting 36-40 MPG on it driving in California freeways.

My Volt is rated at 35 miles All Electric and I'm commonly getting about 39-45 miles per charge. I think most people just don't think about how they drive.

The EPA numbers on the C-Max though were just atrocious though.


RE: The problem
By conq on 8/16/2013 9:50:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
My old 2003 Honda Civic LX was rated at 25/34/29 (City/Hwy/Comb) and I was often getting 36-40 MPG on it driving in California freeways.

Funny you mention that, I'm sensing a common theme now because you aren't the first to point it out. Perhaps that vehicle model is a bit of an anomaly. I drive the Civic '01 DX variant of that model and I also blow the 25/34/29 (City/Hwy/Comb) out of the water every time, even in harsh winters here in Buffalo, NY.

I typically get:
Winter 32-35mpg (Comb)
Spring-Fall 38-42mpg (Comb)

I just wish that rust would go away, darn salty winters :(


RE: The problem
By Roffles on 8/18/2013 5:36:37 PM , Rating: 2
Same here with my old 2005 LX. I would typically get 38-40mpg on the freeway without too much effort. I just had to make sure to keep it to 70mph, coast to slow down, and not too much throttle. It always made me question why I would spend all the extra money on a hybrid.

One rather obvious key to good mpg is keeping an appreciable distance from the car in front of you so you can coast to slow down and gradually speed back up during the ebb and flow of traffic. Also you should coast to slow down when approaching a red traffic light.

It seems like most folks are really hard up about not letting anyone in front of them... always having their foot on either the gas or the brake... and wasting lots of fuel while stressing themselves out. Those are the people who complain about not getting the advertised mileage. Go figure.


RE: The problem
By StormyKnight on 8/16/2013 12:28:56 AM , Rating: 1
I have a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu with a 2.5L engine. In combined driving on one tank of gas, I did manage to hit the 34 m/gl. I'd say 85% of my driving is highway since I travel to work is a 96 mile round trip. I also drive rather conservatively when I can which is about 55 mph. I allow myself the time to get ready so I don't have to do the 70-75 mph dash if I'm late.

I'm not a big believer in what the car's computer is telling me as far as average m/gl since it is a tad higher than my calculations. I keep track of all gasoline purchases as well as maintenance costs on aCar on my phone. It says I'm getting on average 30 m/gl where the car is telling me it is 31.7 m/gl. Living in the Great Lakes area, the winters tend to drive my results down with winter gasoline being what it is. But some of my best tanks have been 34, 33.1, 33.2, 32.4, 32 and 31.8.


RE: The problem
By laststop311 on 8/16/2013 3:56:41 AM , Rating: 2
I got a 2006 malibu maxx ss. And I am definately hurting at the pump. My car readout is showing just 18.2 mpg. 3.9L V6 is hurting me.


RE: The problem
By Neener on 8/16/2013 7:09:48 AM , Rating: 2
I can. With my Honda Accord and my Prius too. In fact it's well known that most cars can get much closer to their EPA numbers than the C-MAX (check Fuelly)

The ACTUAL problem here is that Ford for some reason thought it was a good idea to use the Fusion Hybrid's numbers and pretend the C-MAX could do the same. I'm guessing they tested the C-MAX and found it couldn't match what the Prius did so they had to lie and market the hell out of the 47/47/47 number to get the most benefit before conceding some money later on.


RE: The problem
By Mint on 8/16/2013 10:58:22 AM , Rating: 2
That's exactly it. The EPA cycle is quite reasonable as an average case, and it creates a repeatable scientific test that consumers can use to compare cars. It's much better than the European Driving Cycle, where the same car gets 70 MPG there and 40 MPG here (I know the gallon is different, but not that much).

Ford never actually ran the test on the C-Max. They used a loophole to report false figures and went nuts with the marketing.


RE: The problem
By Alexvrb on 8/16/2013 10:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I hate it when people try to compare Euro numbers to US EPA numbers. They don't even usually factor in Imperial vs US gallon conversion, let alone inferior European cycle testing, and less stringent emissions requirements (especially on diesels).

Anyway, I was initially surprised Ford went ahead with these numbers after Hyundai just got busted for doing the same thing (although Hyundai did it across a number of Hyundai and Kia models). But thinking about it, all Hyundai got was a slap on the wrist. They probably made more money off increased sales for lying than they lost from being caught. I guess Ford figured why not try it! They spent a year marketing the hell out of this thing and boasting about its better-than-Prius mileage.


RE: The problem
By FITCamaro on 8/16/2013 9:12:54 AM , Rating: 2
My Cruze is rated at 27/42. My average is 40-42 both commuting to work and pure highway. The absolute worst I've ever gotten at a fillup is 36 mpg. I'm sure if I did nothing but pure bumper to bumper traffic and drove it like crap I might hit 27 mpg. But in real world driving, I'm meeting and/or beating the EPA numbers.


RE: The problem
By Mint on 8/16/2013 11:04:42 AM , Rating: 2
You'd be surprised how much frequent stops kills fuel economy. In the city, that's where the majority of the energy goes.

I've have a BMW that gets 30 mpg on the highway at 70mph, but in city traffic with even more stops and starts than the EPA city test, I get 12-15 mpg.

I have a very short commute, so I don't really care, but cars can get huge variations in efficiency.


RE: The problem
By ssj3gohan on 8/16/2013 10:09:58 AM , Rating: 2
Nissan Pixo, rated 22.7 km/L, consistently getting 25km/L or more (peak 26.3). It's all down to your driving style.


RE: The problem
By Rukkian on 8/16/2013 10:13:13 AM , Rating: 2
I have a 2014 Forrester, which is 32 Hwy and 28 combined, and doing 75 on the hwy, I get 33 typically, and over 5k miles have an overall combined fuel economy average of 29.1. I don't go pedal to the floor, but am also not trying to hyper mile at all. The biggest things seems to be whether you like to tailgate, and have to ride the brakes.

In most cars I drive, I can get near what they are rated.


RE: The problem
By godlyatheist on 8/16/2013 1:45:24 PM , Rating: 2
My 2012 Civic gets an average of 36mpg drive to and from work (15 miles one way, half highway and half local). If I just drive highway it can easily go above 40mpg (48mpg is the highest I recorded). City mileage is like 26-30. So are hybrids really worth the saving in fuel if you don't drive a lot of city?


RE: The problem
By Alexvrb on 8/17/2013 11:29:55 PM , Rating: 2
If you do mostly highway driving a hybrid can be a bit of a waste. You'll also get a nicer car for your money if you skip the batteries, making for a better long ride. If I had a lengthy highway commute and was in the market for a new car, I'd probably pick up a Cruze Diesel. Really good highway mileage, decent city, and more torque than its gas brethren.


RE: The problem
By GTVic on 8/16/2013 4:40:27 PM , Rating: 2
Not to ignore your joke but it is actually better to coast down the hill under compression if you have a manual transmission. That is, if the hill is steep enough that it doesn't slow you down.

Your car should shut off the fuel to the injectors and that would save fuel compared with coasting down in neutral.

If you have a really long hill to test this out you can verify by watching the engine temperature which should start to drop significantly.


RE: The problem
By mrwassman on 8/18/2013 4:06:47 AM , Rating: 2
Dude, engine temperature should not fluctuate that much once the system is at operating temperature. If what you are saying is true than you should probably replace the thermostat.


RE: The problem
By mrwassman on 8/18/2013 4:02:16 AM , Rating: 2
Don't have that problem at all in my '95 Volvo 850(or previous Z31 300zx's or F-body trans am).

I get 24/30+ combined/freeway, rated at 21/26. 5-speed manual and 210,xxx miles. Plus I waste fuel rev matching during downshifts.

http://i.minus.com/i8iHuQ7hypM5k.jpg

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/12010.shtm...


RE: The problem
By virginiakiana234 on 8/18/2013 6:18:07 PM , Rating: 2

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