The Truth About Cars » Fusion Hybrid The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Fusion Hybrid Pumpcast Newsbreak: Ford And Toyota Sink To New Lows Wed, 15 Feb 2012 06:41:00 +0000


According to current propaganda, Toyota’s Prius c (2012 EPA-estimated 53/46/50 city/highway/combined mileage ) has “the highest rated city fuel economy of any vehicle without a plug,” whereas Ford’s new Fusion Hybrid (EPA-estimated 41 city/36 hwy/39 combined) is “expected to be America’s most fuel-efficient non-rechargeable sedan.”

Consider me confused.

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Why The Chevy Equinox EPA Mileage Numbers Don’t Add Up Tue, 16 Feb 2010 21:32:42 +0000

TTAC GM Bashing Alert! The following article has been read and reviewed by the TTAC-GM Assault Protective Services Committee and has been found to contain material that may put GM in a negative light. Reader discretion is advised.

Unless the elves are asleep at Google, the odds are good that there will be an ad for the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox immediately to the right of this article. And it will proudly trumpet its 32 mpg EPA highway rating, like every other Equinox ad. From GM’s first gleeful announcement, it was hard to swallow from the that a tall, almost 4,000 lb CUV could actually get 32 mpg on the highway, or 26 mpg combined. It appears others are having the same blockage of the pharynx. Now that there’s a number of reviews out, they all show the same pattern: the Equinox EPA numbers are highly deceptive. But would the EPA ever come down on Government Motors?

We conducted a survey of independent tests that actually measured fuel economy by comparing miles driven versus actual  fuel tanked. That alone is important, because the Equinox’ own mileage computer seems to be fairly consistently optimistic by about a couple of mpg. Of course, in this day and age, none too many of the car reviews (including TTAC’s) that are available have actual observed mileage. The majority just regurgitate the remarkable EPA economy that the Equinox is presumably blessed with.

Before we get to that, let’s do the suspect Equinox EPA numbers: FWD  22/32/26 (combined); AWD 20/29/23. Now there’s already a tip-off in just looking at these. The FWD version “premium” (improvement over AWD) is 3 mpg in both the highway and combined numbers. Comparing those to every other comparable CUV that offers both AWD and FWD versions, one finds that the rest of the gang (RAV4, CRV, Outlander, Rogue, Escape) average a 1.4 mpg FWD premium on the highway test, and a 1.0 premium on the combined numbers. The discrepancy with the city numbers is similar: the Equinox has a 2 mpg FWD premium; the rest average a 0.6 mpg FWD premium.

On to the real world: Car and Driver observed 18 mpg with a FWD equinox, and called it “thirsty”.

Edmunds’ test resulted in an 18.8 mpg overall, and made this observation: “Yet our testing didn’t come close to achieving these (EPA) numbers, even though we’re usually within 1 mpg of the EPA combined number.” (emphasis added).

Consumer’s Reports has a carefully calibrated mileage regime that results in very usable comparisons. The Equinox got 21 mpg; that compares to 23 mpg for the RAV4 (24 EPA combined); 22 mpg for the Outlander (22 EPA combined), and pretty much the same for the rest of the competition.

AutoWeek recorded 23.0 mpg as the average of several drivers.

Did anyone actually get close? The GreenCarReports tried to attain the 32 mpg highway numbers by gentle driving with the Eco button firmly engaged. The result: 25.8 mpg, and a comment of  “not spectacular”.

A limited degree of variation from EPA numbers is reasonable and understandable, although the revised formula tend to mirror real world experience quite well. But a consistent pattern has emerged with the Equinox and its GMC Terrain stablemate. And its not just against their direct competitors either. Consider the case of its corporate relative, the Chevy Malibu. Equipped with an almost identical I4/6 speed automatic combination, weighing five hundred pound less and with a dramatically lower total aerodynamic drag, the Malibu’s EPA ratings are an almost perfect dead ringer with the Equinox: 22/33/26.

But in the case of the Malibu, those numbers jive with both the competition (Camry: 22/32/26) as well as CR, which recorded a 25 mpg consumption. Hmm.

To assuage the TTAC GM Assault Protective Services Committee’s paranoia, Ford seems to have a similar case of EPA inflation infection. The Fusion Hybrid has been Ford’s poster boy ever since its arrival, trumpeting its 39 mpg combined rating. A survey of tests of it and the very similar 34 mpg rated Camry hybrid shows the same results, literally; as in 34 mpg. The consensus of a number of tests fails to show any measurable difference between the two, except their EPA ratings, of course. CR also tested both at 34 mpg.

Conspiracy theories are not exactly our preferred fall-back explanation, but it really is rather curious that these two particular cars (Equinox, Fusion Hybrid) are both being heavily advertised (despite the Fusion hybrid’s limited availability) as symbols of American auto manufacturer’s ability to deliver class-leading fuel efficient vehicles. And they carry that EPA stamp of approval. Yet neither of them delivers; in fact the Equinox actually underperforms its peers.

Keep in mind that the EPA tests are not actually performed by the EPA, but by the manufacturers themselves, with a small percentage of cars potentially retested by the EPA. Have they retested the Equinox or the Fusion Hybrid? And if they fell short, would we actually ever hear about it?

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Are The Prius And Fusion Hybrid Brake Issues Related? Thu, 04 Feb 2010 23:24:01 +0000

Ford says emphatically no, but the evidence (such as it is) indicates certain similarities. Let’s take a look…

Toyota’s updated press release on the Prius brake issue reads:

Some customers have complained of inconsistent brake feel during slow and steady application of brakes on rough or slick road surfaces when the anti-lock brake system (ABS) is activated in an effort to maintain tire traction.  The system, in normal operation, engages and disengages rapidly (many times per second) as the control system senses and reacts to tire slippage.  A running production change was introduced last month, improving the ABS system’s response time, as well as the system’s overall sensitivity to tire slippage.

From Toyota’s press conference:

When driving on an icy road, the shift from the electronic brake to the hydraulic brake sometimes takes longer than usual

Consumer Reports’ paraphrase of the Ford technical service bulletin (TSB-09-22-11) reads:

electronic interference might cause the electronic brake-by-wire module to switch itself off temporarily. If that happened, the braking system would revert to a backup conventional hydraulic mode that preserved braking capability, but the pedal will drop over an inch. When the engine is restarted, the electronic braking system would resume…. Ford engineering representatives explained that the software threshold for establishing a fault in the regenerative brake system was set too sensitively, causing the system to transition to conventional brakes when it was not necessary.

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Ford Fusion Named Motor Trend Car of the Year Tue, 17 Nov 2009 19:42:50 +0000 (courtesy: Motor Trend)

The Ford Fusion is a perfectly competent yet utterly bland vehicle. It’s proof that American firms can compete in the mass-market vanilla sedan segment, but not because it does anything particularly well. Its strength is nothing more than an absence of the glaring issues that kept Detroit out of the Accord/Camry sweepstakes. Which is why Motor Trend doesn’t get overly carried away with the credibility-straining praise of the vehicle itself (with the requisite glaring exceptions, to wit: “the Fusion SE goes from mild-mannered commuter to worthy canyon charger”). So instead, the praise gets spread to the lineup as a whole: “the 2010 Ford Fusion’s impressive bandwidth as a model range was one of the many factors that helped it earn the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year award,” we’re told. What this boils down to: you can get a hybrid powertrain in addition to four-pot and six-pot engines. In short, MT gave the Fusion COTY because it does everything a Camry does, but, crucially, it’s from Detroit. Well, Hermosillo, Mexico, actually. Still, its advertising budget still comes from Detroit, and that makes all the difference.

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