Consumer Reports Casts Suspicious Eye on 2013 Ford C-Max's 47 MPG Claim

By Jacob Brown | December 04, 2012
When Ford started advertising its 2013 C-Max hybrid would achieve 47 mpg in both city driving and on the highway, it fastened a target on its back. Those numbers aren't just good, they're miles ahead of the rival Toyota Prius V's 44 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. We saw right around 42 mpg when we tested the Toyota earlier this year. But in the real world, the 2013 Ford C-Max doesn't appear to be getting anywhere near its advertised fuel economy, drawing restrained ire from Consumer Reports. The publication says that self-reporting C-Max drivers are averaging 40.5 mpg on New 2013 Ford Fusion owners who have the same hybrid powertrain are seeing 37.1 mpg. That car is rated at 47 mpg, too. Much of fuel economy in the real world comes from the driver's relationship between his or her foot and the gas pedal, evidenced earlier this year by a woman who sued Honda in small-claims court after her Civic Hybrid rated at 42 mpg couldn't achieve more than 30 in mixed driving. She lost.
But we've also seen when automakers were truly at fault for misrepresenting fuel economy numbers, such as last month's fiasco when Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia were forced to tuck their metaphorical tails between their legs as 29 of their cars had exaggerated mpg numbers. The hardest hit was the Kia Soul Eco, which suffered a 6-mpg downgrade when evaluated by the EPA. Hyundai says there was an error in coastdown corrections, which account for real-world friction a car faces on road surfaces and cutting through air. The Korean automakers now have to reimburse customers for the difference in their adjusted EPA numbers and the original numbers, plus 15 percent, for the remainder of their ownership. So far, few publications, including our sister magazine Motor Trend, have been able to achieve 47 mpg in a C-Max. Ford's problem could stem from an overzealous fuel economy calculation or that drivers haven't quite found the sweet spot of their car yet. It's too early to tell. But as gas gets more and more expensive, consumers are ultimately going to find out whether their cars can achieve the sorts of fuel economy numbers automakers say are possible. Source: Consumer Reports