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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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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.


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