By on December 6, 2012

If you know how to listen and who to listen to, you have heard for weeks that Hyundai is not the only one with overenthusiastic EPA ratings, and that other car companies might soon have to restate their MPG numbers. The carmaker mentioned most often in those whispers was Ford.  Today, Consumer Reports magazine said that Ford’s C-Max and Fusion hybrids fall about 20 percent short of their fuel economy claims.

After running tests, Consumer Reports said the Fusion hybrid delivers 39 MPG both on the highway and in the city. The C-Max rated a combined 37 MPG in Consumer Reports’ test. Ford said both vehicles get 47 miles per gallon.

Says Consumer Reports:

“These two vehicles have the largest discrepancy between our overall-mpg results and the estimates published by the EPA that we’ve seen among any current models.”

According to Consumer Reports, the magazine usually sees-MPG results in its tests that are pretty close to the EPA’s combined-mpg estimate. More than 80 percent of the vehicles CR tested are within 2 mpg.  “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.”

Reuters tried to contact Ford, but did not get an answer.

Says CR:

“We’re not alone in these findings. Some Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid owners have reported fuel economy below the EPA estimates and other media outlets have experienced a similar shortfall.”

CR reported the results to the EPA.

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119 Comments on “Fuel Fiasco Mk II: Consumer Reports Fingers Ford...”


  • avatar
    mike978

    Good. If they have been systematically cheating then they should get caught. Just like Hyundai, lets see if this extends to the whole Ford range, like it did with Hyundai/Kia, or is it just the hybrids.

    80% within 2mpg is pretty good.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I doubt that Ford has been “cheating,” it’s more likely that they simply built the car to test well.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        You are correct that they built to the test. But they must have known real world (including Edmunds and CR) would get 20% low and publicize this. They were setting themselves up for bad publicity and customer disappointment. Toyota and several others get real world economy which is right on the money. An example I was surprised was the new Avalon hybrid which got close to 40mpg (combined) in Edmunds testing and was right on the EPA numbers. They didn`t build to the test they built for customers.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        True enough. I was thinking of a more limited definition of “cheating,” akin to “fraud.” It’s possible they didn’t know but, if they did, as does seem likely, they were setting themselves up for some bad publicity.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        You man- like a ringer? That is cheating pure and simple. If I can’t walk into the showroom and buy a C-Max that performs the same way as their ringer test car- then Ford is cheating.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        Is it a ringer test car or just a car that was built for testing and not real world use. That is the difference. If it hits the numbers in the EPA cycle, it will only be bad publicity. If it was a ringer car or they didn’t follow the EPA procedure, then it is a problem at Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        That’s cheating Kix.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        I don’t mean “built a particular car to test,” I mean, “built the C-Max, generally, to test well.”

        Building a particular car for the test, presumably building it differently or with extra care, would be cheating. It would also be sleazy if they tested a bunch and then EPA-tested the winner.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        As best I’ve heard: The Ford hybrid design uses the electric motor to higher speeds–not because it improves real-world performance, but rather because it gives really good EPA test results.

        I don’t know about their other cars, but I do believe (from my own experience) the Focus mpg numbers are real. So, IMO, this is limited to their hybrids.

    • 0 avatar

      The way they slap “average fuel economy” for city and highway is stupid. I drive my cars HARD and I never see the average fuel economy. I’m not even sure how to drive the car in a way to achieve average fuel economy.

      When I’m stuck in NYC traffic, my fuel economy dips – no matter which car I’m in. My V8′s or cars I’m test driving.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        It’s not hard to drive gently and get good fuel economy, even without using any hypermiling techniques. You do have to care enough to try, though.

      • 0 avatar
        RobAllen

        If you get one of them fancy trip computers that shows current consumption, average consumption and est. miles until empty, you can make enough adjustments to your driving to see a difference.

        In my 335d I am seeing a 33 mpg average with mixed traffic/town and highway. On longer highway trips I can easily top 40 mpg. Once you are at your desired speed it takes very very little pressure on the go pedal to maintain that speed and bring the current consumption numbers into the 40s and 50s. Rapid acceleration however will dip that to the 12-20 mpg range. What I find myself doing is enjoying the torque push to quickly get moving then back off the pedal to maintain.

        The techniques will differ for a regular gas engine with less torque, but watching those indicators and making experimental adjustments is the way to figure it out. The important thing is to strike a balance between enjoying your drive, being safe, and not getting raped at the pump.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        So, you being a statistical outlier means they are doing something wrong?

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Most people have known for a while that Ford severely overstates their mileage. Look at how they said the Ecoboost 3.5 would get 20% better mileage than a V8, yet it gets WORSE mileage than their own 5.0 V8 when in the exact same F-150.

    Man, between this fuel blunder, the recalling of the 2013 Fusion for faulty headlights, the crappy 1.6L 4 banger, and the new Escape being recalled 4 timers already, the horrible MyFord Touchysystem, Ford is really slipping.

    Good thing One Ford is going to save the company lol.

    • 0 avatar
      Sgt Beavis

      I’ve also heard many people quoting mileage numbers for the F150 EB that are much poorer than stated on the sticker. However I seem to find plenty that can match or beat those numbers. I am certainly beating the sticker number for my 5.0 V8 F150.

      BTW, hypermilers were able to get a loaded down F150 SuperCrew with EB to go over 34MPG. Granted they did it while pissing everyone off on the freeway but they showed it could be done.

      One more point. The fuel economy test is done with 100% gasoline. The EPA will not let manufacturers use the same E10 that most of us have to put in our vehicles. That right there will have a noticeable impact on fuel economy.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Good point Beavis, I never realized the EPA test was run on 100% gasoline. The EPA should include a E10 number as well, I’m sure the loss can be factored in as opposed to running a second set of tests for E10 fuel.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I’m always a little leery of turbos to improve mpg because those improvements depend on the turbo *not* doing its thing.

    • 0 avatar
      01 ZX3

      How’s the fuel economy on all those Equinox and Terrain 4 cylinders? IL did a test with there Terrain and the best they could muster was 29 mpg, 3 less than the 32 mpg rating.

      • 0 avatar
        Sgt Beavis

        My wife has a 2010 Equinox LTZ with the four banger. We are getting 29mpg on the freeway.

        However we live in Texas and the speed limit was 70mph the last time I paid attention to the mileage. It is also not flat ground.

        The tests are done on flat ground and the highway speed is 55mph, not 65 or the 75mph we now have on I-20.

    • 0 avatar
      BunkerMan

      I have a 2011 Super Crew F150 Ecoboost. While I’m not getting the numbers on the sticker, the fuel economy is good for what the vehicle is capable of. I use it to tow a heavy trailer in the summer and I have had no complaints.

      The best I’ve ever gotten was 12.5L/100km (about 19 mpg) on a tank in mostly highway driving. I drive 10km/h over the speed limit consistently, and the area I live in is quite hilly.

      I can’t complain too much about the fuel economy. My brother in law has a 2011 5.3L Sierra regular cab short box that gets around the same economy as mine. Since mine weighs considerably more, and I drive faster on average, I consider that good.

      I’m waiting for my $150 rebate from Hyundai and I hope to get one from Ford too. :)

  • avatar
    brettc

    Fuelly is reporting 38.7 US MPG for the average on 31 2013 C-Maxes. So I’m going to say Consumer Reports is probably right on this one. I was really surprised when I read 47 city/highway from Ford but thought it was quite the accomplishment. Looks like you’re not typically going to get 47 in a C-Max.

    In somewhat related news, my Jetta wagon achieved 42.1 MPG last tank (all highway) and I get about 32 to 35 in regular city driving. The Sportwagen with DSG is rated 29/39 so at least TDIs will typically always exceed the EPA numbers.

    Ford really needs to bring over some diesels to supplement the Ecoboost and hybrid stuff. It’s great that they’re offering more efficient gas powertrains, but diesel options aside from the Powerstroke would be appreciated.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Ford handles this if they admit there is a problem. Wonder if they’ll give out gas cards or try to ignore it?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “It’ll be interesting to see how Ford handles this if they admit there is a problem. Wonder if they’ll give out gas cards or try to ignore it?”

      After Hyundai was basically sued for something very similar, they’ll need to tread somewhat carefully.

      • 0 avatar
        WaftableTorque

        Nah, just copy from the late 80′s Audi playbook and tell everyone that the people buying their products are stupid. It’s better to be right than to be liked.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Just watch- they are going to be hit with a huge class action lawsuit over this. And they deserve to be hit. Lying by 2-3mpg is one thing. Lying by a good 8-9mpg is completely outrageous.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Nobody but lawyers win with a class-action lawsuit. I’d rather the government hit Ford with a really big fine than see some hack lawyer win the lottery over an MPG dispute.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        “I’d rather the government hit Ford with a really big fine than see some hack lawyer win the lottery over an MPG dispute.”

        Agreed. But in the absence of a strong government who dares to stand up to corporations, class action lawyers are the next best thing.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      It seems like most turbo charged cars up to mid size can push the 40 mpg mark. My Saab 9-5 with manual transmission can see mid 40′s @ 60 mph highway cruise. It well broken in at 130K miles.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Funny how everybody I know who owns a Prius or Civic hybrids all lament the fact that they can’t come near EPA. CR never said anything about those cars, did they?

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Go check on Fuelly.com- there are hundreds of Prius’ tracked on there and their average mpg is pretty much dead on with the EPA ratings.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        “Go check on Fuelly.com- there are hundreds of Prius’ tracked on there and their average mpg is pretty much dead on with the EPA ratings.”

        a group of self-selected respondents is not necessarily statistically valid.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        So how come the same self-selected respondents(~30 of them) are reporting ~38mpg average for the Ford C-Max? Can you explain the disparity?

    • 0 avatar

      There has been some complaint about the Honda hybrids but yeah, not about the Prius or Camry. They’re pretty much on the money for their estimates.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Our ’05 Prius is rated 51 Highway / 60 City, and I have averaged 54MPG in the eight years I’ve owned it, no complaints here.

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        So much comes down to the user. My 11 Prius would get outstanding mileage so long as I played nice on the freeway and kept my speed around 63mph. If I broke out and wanted to actually get somewhere – make time – my mileage dropped to 47 indicated with an actual I suspect was much lower. So much of my driving is on the freeway, that I switched out of the Prius.

        Still, I loved my Prius and for most driving/drivers it may be the perfect vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        statikboy

        joeveto3, I assume that’s 47US mpg. what did you switch into that gets good enough mileage versus that to make up for the cost of changing vehicles?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I get the EPA numbers in my Prius. Just so long as I drive far enough to warm up the engine.

      I have a really short commute (lots of warmup overhead), and my Prius gets about the 46MPG that is predicted by the new EPA tests. Over the same commute, my 2002 Escape V6 gets about 12MPG, which is way less than the 24/22/18 predicted by the EPA.

      Once again, the Prius wins in an apples-to-apples comparison. I bought my Escape because it depreciates faster than a Prius and tows better, but the Prius is a better commuter car by far.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        BTW, my Escape does get the advertised 24MPG on the highway. I just never take it on road trips because the Prius costs half as much to fuel on a road trip, and saving $100+ on a 12+ hour road trip is worth it to us.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Apples and oranges.

    The linked article says:
    “After running both vehicles through our real-world tests, we have gotten very good results. But they are far below Ford’s ambitious triple-47 figures.”

    So I’m not buying that there is an actual problem. Ford utilized the EPA test cycles, and CR did ‘real world’ tests. Guess what – the EPA cycle is NOT real world.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Toyota used the same EPA cycles too- and they got numbers which are pretty much dead on accurate with real world useage.

      Let’s face it- Ford lied through their teeth and got caught.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Toyota’s numbers aren’t dead on accurate either.

        Ford’s two new hybrids have the highest and second highest discrepancies between EPA and actual mileage of any current models CR has tested. The third and fourth highest are the Prius C and the Prius.

        It’s not Ford. It’s not Toyota. It’s the EPA’s hopelessly unrealistic test.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        icemilkcoffee,
        If Ford’s vehicles get those MPG numbers in the EPA test, they didn’t lie. If Ford isn’t complying with the test, then it is a lie.

        The problem is probably that the EPA test is busted.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Dan,

        I don’t know what CR got testing the Prius C or Prius but Fuelly participants put the Prius C at 51 and the Prius at 48, which are within an mpg or two of their ratings.

        Briant,

        The EPA test is not a guarantee, it’s a guide. If a car scores generally well, you can expect it to do generally well on the road. The exceptions are interesting exceptions. Cheating, maybe, or an extreme case of designing to the test.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Ford CEO: “Note to self, ban these interwebs, customers are getting way to smart!”

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Overstating their mpg by 10mpg. This is just completely outrageous. Thisis the automotive equivalent of doping. The EPA needs to make an example out of Ford. I hope the customers sue their pants off. In fact, I hope Toyota sues their pants off. Toyota probably lost several 1000 sales to the C-Max and Fusion hybrid due to Ford’s fraudulent EPA numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      BrianL

      icemilkcoffee,
      Do you have proof that the vehicles in question didn’t get those numbers in an EPA test? If they did, but they don’t match up well in the field, then the problem is with the test and not with Ford.

      Now, if Ford is making vehicles specifically to get good numbers on EPA tests, the consumer will catch on and not buy as many Fords. But, until someone can take a vehicle through the EPA cycle and get 10 mpg than the EPA number, this CR test of “real world mileage” means nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Brian: The cars were not tested by the EPA. They were tested by Ford, and the numbers were self reported by Ford. So it’s anybody’s guess if these cars are specially program to do well only on the test cycle, or if Ford just plain lied.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @icemilkcoffee:

        Yes, most mfrs self-report, but they self-report using the EPA test cycle. If the cars pass this test (regardless of who’s testing), then Ford is not lying.

      • 0 avatar
        statikboy

        Brian, I’m inclined to think that the problem is neither with Ford, nor the EPA, but with the way people drive in the real world

  • avatar
    Dan

    The federal government definition of mileage begins and ends with an indoor lab test developed in the 1970s to verify the function of smog equipment.

    The federal government requires that an arbitrarily adjusted (and repeatedly readjusted over the years) result of that smog test be printed on the window sticker in larger print than any other item.

    The federal government fines manufacturers hundreds of millions of dollars for a score not meeting CAFE. The federal government sticks thousands of dollars in point of sale excise tax on cars (but not trucks) which don’t score highly enough.

    The federal government makes it illegal for manufacturers to even advertise mileage arrived at through testing outside of the EPA cycle.

    Ford is the one we’re upset at?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Fusions are also self-immolating:

    Ford expands fire probe of EcoBoost engines
    http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20121206/BUSINESS06/312060026/Ford-expands-fire-probe-EcoBoost-engines?odyssey=mod

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      My friend had hers 1 week when I alerted her to this problem. After another week, the Ford dealer has yet to return her call asking what she should do.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        tell her to call 866-436-7332. bypass the dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        “My friend had hers 1 week when I alerted her to this problem. After another week, the Ford dealer has yet to return her call asking what she should do.”

        That’s because Ford doesn’t know what to do. They are taking people cars and wagons and they don’t have a CLUE as to what the real issue is or how to fix it.

        The best part is that they are still producing these faulty appliances at the factory.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The recall is for Escapes built through Nov 26th, and Fusions built through Nov 29th. I’m not sure if there is a production hold on 1.6L EB vehicles, or if they’ve found a way to fix it at the factory, but it’s not true that vehicles are still being built that are potentially susceptible to this issue.

        Owner letters informing them of the problem and what to do about it dropped this week, and dealers have all been given carte blanche to arrange rental transportation for any effected unit without having to get case-by-case approval from Ford. Ford is also willing to tow the vehicles in to the dealership and bring the rental car to the customer’s home if they don’t feel comfortable driving a vehicle covered under the recall.

        The 1.6L EB has obviouslly been a bit spotty in regards to recalls, but if it were my own money I’d still buy it over the 2.5 I4 because it really is a brilliant little engine when it comes to response, NVH, and economy (although given the option I’d choose the 2.0 EB).

        Whatever is going on will get figured out, no one is being left without a car in the meantime, and it will be dandy when it’s done.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    In other news 92% of Volt owners would buy another one according to Consumer Reports, a one percent drop from last year when 93% reported they would buy one. Owners are reporting equally or beating the EPA cycle.

    Ten MPG off is a huge mistake – the Volt in pure dino burning mode gets 37 MPG.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    One thing the article above fails to mention is that CR had NO ISSUES meeting the mileage expectations with the last Fusion and Escape Hybrid.

    Obviously Ford is fudging the numbers to meet their internal goal of being best in class in fuel economy.

    Once again, all Ford is concerned with is looking good on paper.

  • avatar
    TW4

    The EPA test is designed for traditional ICE vehicles; therefore, the discrepancy between Hyundai’s numbers and the EPA test was attributable to ‘aggressive testing’ (aka cheating) by Hyundai. The EPA test was not designed to test advanced powertrains. Ford’s discrepancy is not related to the same company practices.

    The problem is the EPA test. Advanced powertrain vehicles can easily score high marks on the test without scoring the same high marks on the road. Toyota engineered the Prius to beat the Japanese test, and in its home market, the Prius sports an unrealistic 90mpg. As a result of gaming the Japanese system, the Prius’ US mileage ratings were accurately aligned with real-world performance. I can hardly fault Ford for using the same practices in its home market, but they would be wise to alert buyers to the discrepancy, rather than addressing the problem after the sale.

  • avatar
    redrum

    “One thing the article above fails to mention is that CR had NO ISSUES meeting the mileage expectations with the last Fusion and Escape Hybrid.”

    That’s not true, CR measured the previous generation Fusion hybrid at 34mpg combined (vs. 39mpg combined EPA rating). They rated the Escape hybrid at 26mpg combined vs 30mpg (I think) EPA. I know because I recently bought a 2012 Fusion hybrid and read many reviews before purchasing, so I didn’t go in expecting to get the EPA rating. Sure enough, through 4 months my average has been hovering right around 34-35mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      This. Driving style is absolutely critical. Case in point: at my last job we had a 2009 escape hybrid. i could easily average 38 mpg w/o hypermiling tricks. Other people on the office would drive it and get 27 mpg.

      My personal theory is that Ford’s hybrids are too much like “normal” cars, and owners drive them as such. Prius owners are more likely to drive their cars like •hybrids• and get much better real-world economy.

      Not to mention, in my experience the Prius does everything possible to discourage you from driving spiritedly. The acceleration is the most sluggish thing I’ve experienced since I drove a battery powered forklift.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        That makes sense, but does it account for such a wide discrepancy here? I get 32-33 MPG out of my Altima hybrid. This is over a period of almost three years. I make very little attempt to maximize mileage. I basically drive this like any of my cars….conservative in traffic, but heavy foot when moving. 50/50 traffic vs open road. The Altima’s EPA is 34 combined. So, I think that there is truth to what you said, but it is only a part of what is going on here.

        So did Ford go out of their way to game the system or is the EPA cycle just too inaccurate for Ford’s design? I kind of think that it is a little bit of both. Ford tried to set up the car to do well, and the inaccuracies of the test method exaggerated the spread even further. Ford had a choice: Either go with the numbers as is which is legal and makes the short term sense, or adjust the numbers down to reflect reality. Ford chose the classic American business position of taking advantage of anything that looks good in the short term, electing to allow the problem to surface later. Ford, it is now time to pay the piper…stupid move. With the internet, news travels much faster than ever. It took many months for rumors of widespread frangibility to catch up with the old GM diesels. Today that would be out of the bag almost immediately.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The Prius will go as fast as any normal 4-banger if you mash the pedal. But it seems to me that the engineers who built it must have put a variable-force spring under the gas pedal(?) and tuned the NVH to make it sound like you’re stomping on a kitten if you ever put the gas pedal to the floor.

        It makes sports car guys hate the car, but savea a ton of gas (and money) for the rest of us. There are a lot of Prii with 100k miles on them and no visible signs of wear on cars.com – because, seriously, who would get any satisfaction fron hooning a Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        …The Prius will go as fast as any normal 4-banger if you mash the pedal…

        The Prius is an over 10 second car to 60. Almost all C-segment cars, with their base engine offerings will do it in under 9, a handful tickle 8, performance models like the Civic Si (admittedly performance oriented) can tickle 6 seconds – in the time I can take a Civic 0 to 60 and back to 0 the Prius would still be looking for 60.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        jz78817, have you really driven a Prius? The torque is great, I enjoy mine in spirited driving all the time (and have the speeding tickets to prove it). 54MPG, too. Don’t be a hater.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        @golden2husky

        “That makes sense, but does it account for such a wide discrepancy here? ”

        well, as has been said, CR got 26 mpg in an Escape hybrid, I could consistently get 38 w/o being a hypermiling asshole. Sticker was 34city/31hwy. Other people in my company got far worse.

        look, hybrids are *really* f-ing sensitive to how you drive them. The more you can keep them in EV propulsion or regen mode, the better your aggregate fuel economy will be. I still submit that people who go out to buy a Prius are more likely to adopt the “mindset” of driving a hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        @LectroByte

        “jz78817, have you really driven a Prius?”

        three. two 2011s, and one 2013.

        “The torque is great,”

        what torque? I hope you’re not one of those people who think the Prius has immense low-end torque just because someone told you a few things about electric motors. Electric motors produce max torque at stall (0 rpm.) That does not mean they produce a *lot* of torque at stall.

      • 0 avatar
        cout

        jz78817, the Prius does produce mad torque, but it’s sort of like driving a Vette around in 6th gear all the time, since it only has one “gear”.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Consumer Reports is replicating the findings of green car bloggers who have driven the C-Max.

    I drove the C-Max hybrid and loved it. But I’ve been dialing back my enthusiasm as this story gains credibility. It’s a family car and a hybrid, but a hybrid is just a means to get the numbers. Without the MPG numbers, it isn’t a green car.

    I still plan to drive the C-Max Energi when it arrives in my town. But, without the numbers, it will be more out of a sense of geeky fascination. I was pleasantly surprised by the Volt’s feeling of smoothness and class, when I drove it with the same mindset. But, as high a bar as it is, you guys have GOT to beat the Prius in my driveway fair and square to get me out of it!

  • avatar

    How easy it must be to create a “ringer” now. Just reprogram
    the computer for mileage instead of power. Cars tested should be
    selected at random from the factory and fueled with shitty corn
    juice. the honor system clearly isn’t working. I know a neighbor
    with new Elantra who has been driving like he has an egg between
    his foot and the gas pedal and could not approach EPA numbers.

  • avatar
    Duncan

    I’m surprised it took this long for Ford to be called out on their fuel economy numbers. I rent a lot of cars and Fords seem to be the most optimistic with their EPA numbers. I was shocked when a 2013 Focus recently returned 24 mpg in mixed driving, then checked Fuelly.com and saw the 2013 Focus averages only 28 mpg, 5 mpg lower than EPA rated.

    I agree with everyone else on here though – it is naïve to rely on EPA published results. There are plenty of resources available on the internet that give much better information for estimating real world fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      phreshone

      Fords have a notoriously long break-in in terms of FE…

      I had a 2010 Fusion Sport, and early on I was seeing poor highway mileage, so I read alot of the ford boards, and it was common for FE not to hit EPA until over 10-15,000 miles… And just as predicted every other weekend I made the same 300 mile round trip and mileage was improving every trip (unfortunately the car got stolen at 5000 miles, so i never did get to see how well it did fully broken-in…

      When my CC lease is up, I’ll look at the Fusion 2.0EB, but certainly will wait until I can read up enough how well it performs in the real world.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Fords can sometimes do above EPA when broken in. My Vulcan-powered Taurus was rated for 18/27, 21 combined. When it was more than 10 years old, I sometimes got 28-31 on the highway, and that was despite my leadfoot and driving on mountains sometimes.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Please oh Please STOP calling these numbers “EPA Estimates”. THEY ARE NOT!

    They are the vehicle manufacture’s reading of the EPA test procedures manipulated to fudge the numbers well into the grey area. You may call them the “Vehicle Manufacture’s Submitted EPA Fuel Economy Numbers” if you want. At least that way it identifies who did the testing and provided the numbers.

    Thank goodness the EPA does not periodically pull a vehicle or two from a manufacturer and test according to how the test was written and intended to be performed. Heaven forbid the EPA checking for compliance to an EPA regulation.

    //sarcasm off.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    A month ago, we bought a 5-speed Focus SE hatchback. EPA mpg is 26 city and 36 highway. The car now has 1,500 miles on it, one third of that on 65 mph highways and another third on 70 mph interstate. The car’s best gas mileage was 36 on the 65 mph roads. It dropped to 28 on the interstate. Air temperature was 30 degrees colder the day of the interstate trip. We are not sure about mileage around town since the dealer delivered the car with a full tank and we haven’t put enough miles on it since our trip for it to need refueling again.

    At this point, it’s too soon to decide if the car meets its gas mileage rating. I suspect it does. It’s also possible that it doesn’t like speeds above 70 mph or cold temperatures.

    We bought our Focus for mostly city driving with with occasional highway trips. The gas mileage it has demonstrated so far is entirely acceptable. If it falls somewhat short of EPA ratings, you won’t find me joining a class action suit against Ford. People fail to realize that the difference between 20 and 30 mpg is far more consequential than the difference between 30 and 40 mph. It would be more obvious if we measured fuel consumption as volume over distance, like the Europeans, instead of distance over volume.

    The Fiesta would have been acceptable on city streets, but it’s too gutless for a long highway trip. It needs the 2-liter engine from the Focus. Similarly, the Focus would benefit from the turbo 1.6-liter engine of the Fiesta ST. For each of these cars, Ford needs an intermediate engine between the two extremes of fuel economy and high performance.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      how spoiled have we become when we think a 2500-lb car is “underpowered” with 120 hp. My first car had 80 hp and it got around just fine.

      ‘course, my current car has 420 hp and it gets around just fine too, but a lot faster…

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Ha! You said it. My first car was 82HP of flaming fury waiting for a man macho enough to tame it. It wasn’t bad for the day and age.

        I now enjoys 394HP under my left foot.

        When I see people posting declaring 0 to 60 times of 9 seconds as unsafe because its so slow I have to snicker. Try driving an ’85 Escort, or Celica, or Civic, or…

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        “I now enjoys 394HP under my left foot.”

        When letting out the clutch (?!?)

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        ApPaGttH, that’s why I laugh when the Luddites here express concern about “overburdened” turbo 4-cylinders that have more power than Malaise era and post-Malaise 80s V8s, and certainly more than those era’s V6s. Either people weren’t around then or have a short memory.

        Also, 9 seconds is not slow compared to many cars that children of Boomers would have ridden in. Hell, a Malaise Corvette could easily clock 8 or 9 ticks, depending on year and trim.

    • 0 avatar
      kjb911

      Bought my ’12 Focus 5 Speed Hatch a year ago. Currently it has 32,000 miles on it with a daily commute of 27 miles each way 95% highway. Using calculations at the pump I average around 37 MPG between fill ups however I rarely do any city driving. When I drove to Florida and spent more time in city I ended up with an average of 32.3 with the AC on. YMMV with the Focus and I’ve noticed it is EXTREMLEY susceptible to minor corrections and speed. I try to stay at 65 (speed limit in RI is 55 for a majority of roads) and keep braking to a minimum. The only time I ever saw less than 28 MPG was during my break in period at the first 5,000 miles…afterward the number kept climbing. considering the manual is rated at 36 hwy I find that even with an average of 32.3 quite acceptable. My partner’s Veloster on the other hand has never saw over 33MPG even when I take it to work. However, comming from a grand cherokee that never saw the best side of 20 makes you appreciate any car.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    There are a ton of variables in fuel economy, especially when it comes to hybrids.

    Accelerating and braking hard will have more pronounced negative effect on a hybrid’s mileage than on a non-hybrid. If you accelerate slowly and brake gradually you stay in electric mode longer and regain the most energy from regenerative braking.

    Climate conditions make more of a difference for a hybrid. Exceedingly warm weather will lead to more of the battery’s power going towards the AC instead of propulsion, while exceedingly cold weather will have a negative effect on the battery’s ability to hold a charge, and force the engine on for a longer period on initial start-up to warm up to best operating temperature.

    The weight of the passengers and cargo will have more of an effect on a lighter vehicle. Two 250 lbs passengers in a 5500 lbs F-150 won’t effect the mileage as much as they will on a 3500 lbs C-Max.

    Fuel blends will have an effect on mileage – E10 vs pure gasoline, summer vs winter gas, etc.

    As far as my experience goes, around the test-drive loop the C-Maxes are averaging in the 38-42mpg range. However, these are brand new vehicles that haven’t gone through the break-in cycle yet. I’ve heard back from customers who are having trouble breaking the 40mpg mark, as well as others who are kissing 50mpg.

    This is just a perfect case of YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      86SN2001

      “This is just a perfect case of YMMV.”

      No, Ford is either cheating or they are have a vehicle programmed specifically for the EPA test.

      A owner had a Ford engineer in his C-Max telling him exactly how to drive, and he could still only muster 40MPG.

      Ford is pulling a fast one, as they have been doing with their fuel economy numbers for quite some time.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        There are owners reporting fuel economy in the high 40s on both fueleconomy.gov and fuelly, and I’ve had customers who are getting it, so it isn’t impossible.

        Yes, there are also plenty of people who are apparently not getting that mileage.

        If you drive a hybrid like any other car you won’t necessarily get the full fuel economy benefit from it. Anyone who wants to get 47mpg should be able to with the right driving style.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      Using E10 vs. pure petroleum gasoline will make a slight difference, however, assuming it really IS E10, it should be very slight indeed. 100% ethanol has a 33% loss of energy per volume compared to pure gasoline so E10 would have only a 3.3% loss which would be barely noticeable tank to tank and can be recouped with only slight changes in driving style. Some people are claiming up to 15-20% loss in economy which I find hard to believe.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_gallon_equivalent#GGE_-_Gasoline_Gallon_Equivalent_.28US_Gallons.29_tables

      • 0 avatar
        Hoser

        15-20% sounds high, but my personal testing has always given about 10% greater mileage with pure petroleum than with E10. Which means I can go the same distance with 9 gallons of pure petroleum, Or a combo of 9 gallons of petroleum and 1 gallon of corn. It doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s the number I come up with no matter what vehicle I’m testing.

        When I’m at the pump armed with that information, if the E10 isn’t >10% cheaper I stay with the pure gas.

        On corn-free gas I most always get EPA hwy or better, and they are all Fords.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        Theory aside, an engine has to be optimized to ethanol OR gasoline, when using both, it’s not optimal for either.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “my personal testing has always given about 10% greater mileage with pure petroleum than with E10″

        If you put “pure petroleum” into your car, then it wouldn’t run at all.

        With all of the bizarro, over-the-top comments on this website about ethanol, I’m starting to think that some posters may be drinking the stuff. (That isn’t recommended.)

  • avatar
    Scribe39

    From viewing many of the drivers in my locale, I would tend to blame them as much as the car. Everyone seems to believe cars don’t need break-in anymore, but I believe most get better as the miles increase. I do recall a Car and Driver test years ago of a flexible fuel Impala. They got 32 miles per gallon with gasoline and 21 miles per gallon with E85. The best thing they could do is quit burning our food in vehicles. Ethanol is a product of politics, not science.

  • avatar
    spartan_mike

    I thought the issue was that the EPA allows hybrids to start the test with a fully charged battery. The test is of limited duration, so a certain amount of energy comes from the battery charge and not from gas. In the real world, a non plug-in has to eventually replenish the energy spent by the battery by burning gas, so it won’t achieve the same mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      @spartan_mike: I think that you’re on to something there – that, combined with the use of pure gas vs. E10 (I have yet to see if the EPA uses pure gas), and a fully charged battery could skew the test without being fraudulent.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “I thought the issue was that the EPA allows hybrids to start the test with a fully charged battery. The test is of limited duration, so a certain amount of energy comes from the battery charge and not from gas.”

      Alas, a logical comment. These seem to be harder to find these days.

      The Fusion hybrid can run on battery power at speeds as high as 62 mph. The EPA test is of short duration (except for the cold weather component of the city test). Much of the EPA test includes time spent at idle.

      Presumably, the short length of the EPA test is going to create favorable results for a hybrid that can run on battery power at high speeds. But when the battery is eventually drained to the point that the gas motor has to do more of the work, then those results are going to necessarily deteriorate.

      • 0 avatar
        mfennell

        I don’t think battery fluctation will affect the test all that much. Non-plug in hybrids behave differently than the plug in variety in that they only “drain” the battery in a limited way and charge it back up immediately. The city test is 31 minutes long (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/fe_test_schedules.shtml), plenty of time for any battery fluctation to be normalized out in a traditional hybrid.

        Also from fueleconomy.gov: “The EPA fuel economy tests use 100 percent gasoline, and no adjustments are made to account for ethanol. Most conventional vehicles using E10 (10 percent ethanol) will experience a 3 to 4 percent reduction in fuel economy.”

        So there’s that too.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “The city test is 31 minutes long”

        18% of the city test (about six minutes) is spent idling. Most cars are getting 0 mpg at idle; a hybrid with a charged battery won’t be idling at all.

        The test involves 23 stops, which provide opportunities for regenerative braking.

        The average test speed is 21.2 mph, well below the maximum speed at which the Fusion runs on battery power.

        A fresh battery should do well under those conditions. I can see how the Fusion would perform well in those circumstances, and could vary greatly from the experience of at least some owners.

        As for E10, it only reduces MPG by about 3%. In this case, that amounts to 1-2 mpg. Ethanol seems to induce madness among some in the TTAC audience, but in the real world, it’s not a big deal.

      • 0 avatar
        mfennell

        “18% of the city test (about six minutes) is spent idling. Most cars are getting 0 mpg at idle; a hybrid with a charged battery won’t be idling at all.”

        I think that 18% number is misleading because they are so brief. I count 23 idle periods in the 31 minute test. My understanding from an OEM calibrator is that even hybrids are off for less time than you’d expect during the test, primarily for emissions reasons (the warm up phase eats up 20% of the test, cat cooldown issues) but also because the little bits of extra fuel you need to start the engine can add up to be worse than brief idling periods.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “My understanding from an OEM calibrator is that even hybrids are off for less time than you’d expect during the test”

        Hybrids save fuel because there are times when they can operate without the gas engine being used.

        The Ford hybrid can operate at higher speeds without the gas engine operating than can a Toyota hybrid.

        The EPA city cycle involves low speeds and numerous deceleration periods. The Ford system should be able to operate on battery power during the former, and charge the battery during the latter.

        In other words, the Fords probably spent much of the EPA test time with their gas engines off. They did well in this scenario because the battery held enough of a charge that the gas engine was barely used.

        In that sense, it seems to me that it probably works more like a Volt than a Prius. In a short burst, the Ford may get better fuel economy than a Prius due to the Ford’s greater dependence on the battery. But over the long run, it’s probably worse, since it needs to rely more heavily on the gas engine once the battery requires charging. The Toyota system is designed to produce a good overall performance, while the Ford system is designed to earn bragging rights in specific circumstances.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Since it seems so many cars (ok at least Hyundai and Ford…) have issues meeting the EPA estimates, I’ll just go ahead and throw it out that maybe we should get rid of the epa testing figures and let csr companies do their own testing.

    If the epa numbers are worthless, can the automaker numbers be worse? Sure, they can lie, but as mentioned, it is a stupid business practice, and frankly I don’t think most would.

    Second, I have to believe that the epa test gives automakers cover to lie/cheat. If the cars don’t get the mileage stated, they can simply blame the test methods and state that they are required, by law, to use those methods. Doesn’t meet the number? Sorry, government requirement.

    Having them do it themselves would provide incentive not to lie. 1) customers find out and would be upset and 2) There is no longer any epa to hide behind.

    Don’t forget there is also another incentive to lie with these tests beyond just for marketing purposes on a window sticker (assuming I understand the process cortectly)…. CAFE requirements. The higher the number the better for automakers when meeting these requirements. If getting a Fusion to 47mpg (or whatever it tests under the old system still used for CAFE), how many additional F150s can u sell without paying a fine?

    So, lets get rid of the epa test cycle and let the companies self report. There is more than enough info out there to keep them honest. If they lie, people will buy from another company that doesn’t.

    Get rid of cafe too. Or at least separate the fuel economy numbers reported to customers on a window sticker from the test methods used by the epa to determine cafe compliance.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The EPA figures are not worthless. I was reading the review on Edmunds of the new 2013 Avalon hybrid. So it was timely and Edmunds matched (or exceeded in some driving) the EPA figures. Therefore the EPA figures were accurate and Toyota had sold a car whose real world economy (and a hybrid so comparable to C-Max) matched the EPA.
      I don`t think Ford were fraudulent, because that would be stupid and criminal and expensive. But they must have known that real world fuel economy was more like 40mpg (CR, Edmunds and 30 people on Fuelly all getting that figure). They therefore set themselves up for bad publicity and disgruntled owners who then bad mouth their company.
      It is important for the C-Max because one of the key reasons for buying it is for the fuel economy. The Equinox has been raised, well it does seem over optimistic too but by maybe 10% (3mpg) rather than 20% and nobody buys the Equinox primarily for fuel economy.

  • avatar
    shelvis

    How about actually reporting on the Hyundai issue as opposed to trying to throw everyone else under the bus.
    Almost every article on TTAC on the Hyundai fuel economy issue has skirted around reporting the news and instead talked about how Detroit (mainly Ford) is gonna get it soon too.
    You’re like my old man when he said Nixon didn’t do anything wrong with Watergate because they are all crooks!

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    I would be really interested to see a publication do a deep dive on the EPA test. We all wave our hands talking about designing to a test, cheating the test, how the test doesn’t match the real world, etc. but who has actually read the test procedure? Has anybody seen an expert review/explanation of the test procedure?

    I have no experience with fuel economy testing, but plenty of FMVSS and SAE testing experience. There is a lot of room for interpretation there and I wonder how EPA testing compares.

    What is the test procedure? Which aspects are open for interpretation? Which variables can the manufacturers game to up the economy figures? Without that information, we’re really just making un-informed guesses.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “who has actually read the test procedure?”

      You can find that easily enough online. Here’s a summary:

      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/fe_test_schedules.shtml

      • 0 avatar
        hf_auto

        I’ve seen this link before, but it’s a very light summary. For example, FMVSS 209 covers part of the seat belt assemblies and is defined by a 46-page regulatory document and a 76-page test practice (TP-209-08) that specifically define vehicle setup and test conditions.
        It’s been my experience that you typically need engineers and lawyers to really understand the documents and develop an internal test practice. It’s also been my experience that they generally leave some variables open that can have an effect on the outcomes of the test.
        What I’d like to see is more transparency on what that actual document is, and an expert (panel?) analysis of any possible loopholes in the TP.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “What I’d like to see is more transparency on what that actual document is”

        I gave you that link as a starting point. If you had kept looking, then you would have found all sorts of detail and backup.

        The rules are spelled out in the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 600). The little graphs in the links that I posted are detailed in the code. It’s transparent enough, given what it is. The government isn’t exactly coy about how the tests are supposed to be conducted.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    I purchased a C-Max in October. Through mid-November I was averaging 43-44 MPG. Since is has gotten colder here in MI, my fuel economy has dropped to around 38-39 MPG. I’m losing precious EV time in the morning because the hybrid system is cold in my uninsulated, detached garage. It doesn’t warm up enough to go into EV mode until I am well on to 696.

    I wanted a C-Max Energi instead, but the price, and lack of storage are dealerbreakers. I assume the Energi won’t have the warm up problem, because the system will have to be warm from being plugged in/charging.

    My MPG numbers are from mainly a drive from the Royal Oak area to the Livonia area and back, for those who are Detroit inclined. Mostly 696 and 275. I always flow with traffic and seldom drive under 70-75 on the freeway.

    It will be a long time before I get to drive it in actual warm weather.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “I purchased a C-Max in October. Through mid-November I was averaging 43-44 MPG. Since is has gotten colder here in MI, my fuel economy has dropped to around 38-39 MPG.”

      Winter reformulated gas is also crappier for gas mileage than summer gas. It has more oxygenation compounds in it, which displace fuel components. This means that you might get slightly higher performance from winter reformulated gas, but you will get lower mileage.

      Also, cold takes other tolls on engines too — higher oil viscosity, more condensation in tanks, harder to start/crank, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      bball –

      Make sure you turn on ‘EV+’ mode on your C-Max, it’s designed specifically for cases like yours – it will learn your common destinations (no need to even input them into the nav system if you have one, all C-Maxes have a GPS chip) and if it detects you are pulling into a place where you normally stop for an extended period of time (like your garage or work) it will stay in EV mode longer to give you the most out of your available battery charge, knowing that the engine will likely have to run to warm up the next time you start it.

  • avatar
    ixim

    Ford took Toyota’s basic hybrid technology; tweaked it for better performance (power) while adding a lot of content to build a Prius-killer. The laws of physics may have caught up with them here. Still, driving style is critical to mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Massive Revision:

      Toyota tried to sue Ford for using the same basic concept, quickly found that due too Clinton’s 100mpg car thingy, Ford’s system represented roughly 40% of the patents Toyota was stepping on, so you had a situation were Ford would have to pay Toyota $600 for every hybrid they sold and Toyota would have to pay Ford $400 for everyone they sold (couldn’t foresee Ford having objected to this), or it would have ended up in court…At this point, Toyota with significantly more of its future invested into it (and a best case scenerio of owing Ford a great deal of money), decided a joint patent sharing arrangement would work nicely.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    I suspect driving style is a huge driver of these complaints. I see a lot of Prius drivers dawdling in the left lane, and the rest seem to “drive it like a hybrid.” It’s entirely possible that either a) these Ford buyers don’t do the same, or b) that they haven’t learned to do the same yet.

    Traffic and temperature also make huge differences, as I’ve said above. I used to get 15-16 mpg in the city on my Panther Windsor when I lived on the east coast and didn’t drive in rush hour, but that went to about 12 mpg in California rush hour. That car was rated 17/24 originally, I believe, but in the revision, it got lowered to 15/22. The car had 200K miles +/-20K at all relevant times (original transmission/engine).

    Level of warm-up matters too.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    After watching the video, it is easy to see that CU did not perform the same tests that Ford has to perform on their cars for the EPA fuel economy numbers they got.

    You can see the lab testing methods here:
    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/how_tested.shtml

    The tests are done on a Dyno, not on the open road or a track. There is no road grade or road conditions taken into consideration.

    Also, the EPA tests are done on 100% gasoline. They don’t use E-10. CU doesn’t state whether they used E-10, E-15, or pure ole gasoline.

    The highway test for the EPA doesn’t go over 60mph. CU stated that they ran at a constant 65mph. The EPA doesn’t even maintain a “constant” speed. Look at the test schedules on the link below:
    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/fe_test_schedules.shtml

    On the Highway tab, you can see that the EPA never takes their cars over 60mph and they average 48.3mph. They do have a high speed test that goes up to 80mph, but even then, the test averages 48.4mph.

    However, I will agree with CU on one point. In nearly every car I drive, I can get better than the highway miles and I usually can match the city miles. I have a 2012 F-150 with the 5.0 V8. It is rated at 15/21mpg and I’m getting 16.5/23mpg. I can get 25mpg when cruising at 65mph.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Rental CAr Roulette got me a C-Max this weekend in Atlanta. So far in an evening of highway and suburban knocking around I’m getting 42mpg. Not nearly enough miles to mean anything, of course. Nice car though, probably worth the extra cash over a Prius-V (Mom has one), but it is noticably less roomy. No way it will be as efficient though, given the difference in wieght and power, no matter what Ford/EPA says.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Excellent article fron Dan Neil:

    Ford’s Fine C-Max Falls Way Short on MPG
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324001104578161401552249678.html?mod=WSJ_Autos_LS_Autos_2

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    What a shame. Engine fires. MyFordTouch/Sync. Transmissions in the Focus. Mustang manual transmissions exploding. Real world mileage far below EPA. Near last place rank in respected Consumer Reports and JD Powers reliability studies. This is a crisis, and it will impact your revenue and margins. Ignore the analysts who call this a bump in the road.

    Ford would be best served changing directions fast. Ditch the complicated technology and keep it simple like Toyota and Honda. Fire engineers, product planners, executives, and any other clown who sold you on complicated technology to differentiate your brand. And, take care of your customers. I would offer near 100% trade in on new Ford products to those with engine fire problems. You need the positive press. Then, you need to clean house.

  • avatar

    Mazda is not known for super MPG efficiency, at least before skyactive era.
    My 2006 Mazda 3 2.3 liter, did 32 MPG on the hwy, EPA rating was 29, this was checked by actually filling up gas, not trip computer and it was on NY state hwy on a very long trip.

    Also, my current car, 2011 Mazda 3, 2.5 liter, did 32 MPG on the hwy, EPA rating is also 29.

    The only thing I don’t understand is how they manage to get such lousy fuel consumption on a car of that size, I knew it before I got the car so I’m not surprised but still, it doesn’t look good.
    If I have to choose again between fuel economy and fun to drive, fun to drive will win big time!


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