Did Ford fudge the mileage numbers on two of its new hybrid vehicles? That’s been a topic of discussion in recent weeks as the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid have been put through their paces by automotive reviewers.
According to influential Consumer Reports magazine, the maker’s two new models fall well short of their heavily promoted 47 mpg sticker ratings. The C-Max “people-mover,” for example, delivered an average 10 mpg lower than promised during the non-profit publication’s testing.
“Yes, the disclaimer on EPA fuel-economy labels notes that ‘your results may differ,” CR said in a blog posting. “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. Our overall-mpg results are usually pretty close to the EPA’s combined-mpg estimate.”
The timing of the Consumer Reports review possibly couldn’t be worse for Ford considering the ongoing flap surrounding Korean carmakers Kia and Hyundai. Both of those makers were forced to restate mileage on a combined 13 models, early last month, after the EPA discovered they had misstated the results of their own fuel economy tests.
Hyundai and Kia have both offered to provide debit cards to owners of affected vehicles to cover additional fuel costs. But they have been hit with several lawsuits – with more likely – and there is a possibility of a Senate hearing on the issue.
The debacle has led the EPA to begin investigating other manufacturers’ mileage claims, and Ford could now fall under the microscope.
In a prepared statement, Ford defended its ratings, stating that, “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.” Meanwhile, Ford marketing chief Jim Farley told newspaper USA Today that the maker was not going to get caught up in a scandal like the one that has snagged Hyundai and Kia.
Ford subsequently advised TheDetroitBureau.com, “For those customers who are more focused on optimizing their fuel economy, Ford’s new hybrid SmartGauge with EcoGuide eco-coaching technology features even more ways – such as Brake Coach and an “Empower” gauge for more efficient stopping and acceleration – to help our customers achieve higher mileage.”
Fuel economy numbers often fall short in real-world use, particularly with hybrids which are extremely dependent upon road conditions and driver behavior. The EPA revised its testing procedures a few years back in an attempt to make the results more reflective of what drivers might actually experience and hybrids, in general, saw a sharp decline in approved mileage.
A preliminary test of the Fusion Hybrid by TheDetroitBureau.com saw lower mileage than the vehicle’s rated 47 mpg City/Highway/Combined EPA-approved numbers – though we downplayed that as the result of our testers’ lead feet, which often yields lower mileage numbers.
But CR contends its goal is to deliver reasonable and fair results and, in the case of the Fusion, it got results of around 35 mpg city, 41 highway and 39 combined. For the C-Max, the magazine got 35/38/37. According to the magazine, that is the worst gap between the numbers on the vehicle’s Munroney, or window, sticker and its test results that it has seen.
The magazine also stressed that the Fusion Hybrid’s mileage still qualifies as “excellent,” and still comes in at 1 mpg ahead of its test results for the comparably sized Toyota Camry Hybrid – which also yielded mileage lower than its EPA rating, albeit a smaller gap than for Fusion.
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