2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid: Quick Gas-Mileage Test

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Gas mileage in hybrid vehicles can be a tricky thing.

Depending on how they're designed--and at what speeds their electric motors kick in--their efficiency can vary considerably.

When we tested the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid six weeks ago in Los Angeles, the real-world indicated gas mileage was 37 mpg over 50 miles of mixed freeway and urban driving.

This past weekend, we borrowed another C-Max for a longer test.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we couldn't do our usual 360-mile test route on Ford's newest compact five-door hatchback.

Instead, we only covered 238 miles--the bulk of it at 75-mph freeway speeds.

This time, we averaged 39.9 mpg, just a hair short of the 40-mpg level that is likely to impress friends and car shoppers.

That included 44 miles on electricity alone, according to the car's display.

Some other readings: Its lifetime efficiency to date over a total of 3,200 miles was 33.4 mpg.

And over two previous trips, it had attained 34.7 mpg (over 607 miles) and 32.5 mpg (over 1,173 miles).

These results lead us to echo our comment from that first C-Max Hybrid drive: "We have some questions about whether it will live up to its EPA ratings as reliably as the Prius does."

We noted on that drive that over 20 miles of largely urban stop-and-go traffic, the C-Max returned about 44 mpg.

That number is close enough to its EPA rating that we're not worried.

But the C-Max also gets a 47-mpg highway rating, for a combined number of--yes--47 mpg. We didn't get close to that number, registering in a range of 37 to 39 mpg.

We've requested another C-Max for a longer road test, and will spend some time running in city and suburban uses.

At speeds of 50 mph or below, the C-Max Hybrid uses its electric motor and can rack up those electric miles--which should improve gas mileage significantly.

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

Until then, however, we remain somewhat skeptical that the C-Max will deliver mixed real-world mileage much above 42 mpg. But we'll wait to find out.

For comparison purposes, our 2012 Toyota Prius V wagon, rated at 42 mpg combined, returned 40.0 mpg over a fairly hilly test route that included hauling lots of cargo.

Our 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid carried a base price of $28,200. The "Blue Candy metallic tinted clearcoat" paint--a striking color that got a lot of looks--was an extra $395.

A single option bundle, deemed "Rapid Spec 303A," added premium Sony audio and a navigation system, a hands-free technology bundle that included hands-free tailgate operation and a keyless entry system, and a parking technology package that added Ford's Active Parking Assist--which we had no occasion to try out.

That bundle carried a base price of $3,080, with a "Rapid Spec discount" of $585 offsetting a bit of its bottom-line impact.

Adding in the mandatory destination fee of $795, our C-Max came with a final sticker price of $31,885.


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Comments (23)
  1. Ford needs a "serious eco" mode to help the car to achieve those EPA numbers. At the end of day, it is physics. Better performing car will use more energy. So, detune the car to "Prius" level performance (at least do it in ECO mode) so people can get Prius type of MPG...

  2. Well my PREDICTIONS held very TRUE about my 6 or 7 Ford Explorers that NEVER ACHIEVED what the manufacturer quoted or sticker wise...I said when the CMAX and the Energi were first introduced that the weight of either vehicle was almost 800 lbs. more than the Prius Plug IN and that the Hybrid model was 400 lbs HEAVIER than the Toyota Camry Hybrid,....NO WAY with that weight and the larger horsepower will these numbers hold TRUE....Well Ford has done it once more...I was REALLY hoping that for once the numbers would hold up BUT guess the reasons are apparent if you want performance a HYbrid is not made for such purposes and just because it is more powerful it does NOT mean that it will be efficient as the KING PriUS...

  3. Maybe some people want a "balance" between performance AND MPG.

    Volt is heavier than Prius Plugin, but it performs better than the Pip. And it seems to match its gas mileage vs EPA's rating. It definetly beats EPA's EV range though...

  4. Well I would say that Ford needs "EPA Mode" where it will be possible for a common driver to achieve EPA numbers..

  5. Ford has the whole plug-in line-up covered now...2013 should be a good year for them...especially if gas is high...


  6. It sure seems that the 43 mpg combined that the Energi is said by Ford to be rated is more realistic than the EPA rating of the Hybrid for whatever reason...

    The C-CMAX is a tall vehicle with a good deal more frontal area than the Prius - I wonder how much of a difference cruising at 65 mph vs 75 mpg makes in this vehicle. I'd bet that mpg goes up from 40 mpg to at least 44 mpg which would put it within the margin of error of the EPA ratings...

  7. NO WAY sorry...they BOTH CMAX AND ENERGI are much tooooo heavy for the purpose of an ECONOMY vehicle....its larger engine and heavy weight will bring down what FOrd Claims...they are the Worst FOR HOLDING UP WHAT THE true RATINGS ARE....prius is still king THE MISTAKE THEY MADE WAS TO TRY AND BEAT THE pRIUS OR PLUG IN PRIUS WITH larger horsepower and a larger engine 2.0 vs.1.8 Prius no way are these vehicles made for economy....faster does not mean more economical in this case..I new it from the time they were introduced weight would be REAL game changer....3 seperate road tests I have read are less than 40 MPG whether it was all city or combined Highway/City or either the numbers were not close at all...good try Ford...u gotta beat 60 MPG

  8. @Charles: This is your friendly site moderator here. Could I respectfully suggest that you use fewer CAPITAL LETTERS in your comments?

    They are the equivalent of shouting, which is somewhat rude, and they make it harder to read your thoughts.

    Thanks in advance.

  9. Sorry understand completely...so u know I am death in one ear a birth defect and that is why i show my feelings in writing...not meant to harm anyone...some people have to yell forme to hear with my hearing device...also I cannot present easily in speech either ...so I can get exhausted trying to express my self in many cases....sorry mr Voelcker....

  10. @Charles: No worries, just figured I'd mention it. Thanks for your various comments; we're happy to have you as a reader.

  11. Man, I really should proofread my posts better. :-( I think you guys can understand what I meant in there.

  12. It seems C-Max Hybrid has a path prediction algorithm to optimize for better fuel economy. The more you drive the same route over and over again, the higher MPG it'll get.

    There is EV+ mode that you can turn off to disable the path prediction. I assume John V drove it with it on (believed to be the default).

  13. Does Prius use the same thing? Is that also called "performance reducer"? hahah

  14. Did someone check the tire-pressure? Could it have been low at 33psi or somethign other than what would give good mileage on the hwy?

  15. Even this is a long way from the statement from Ford a few years ago that said "Ford had no plans for an electric vehicle now or in the future". Things must have changed since then. Maybe they thought Mr. Fords wifes electric car was the last Ford would ever see. Things have changed, I wonder why.

  16. Does the C-Max require high-test fuel? That would also kill its economy. I drove one the other day and it felt stable, quiet, and responsive, but the as-you-go gas mileage readings were in the 20's most of the time. Why can't for desing an "eco" button for the real misers out there who want to beat the Prius figures? Maybe include cylinder de-activation?

  17. I have a 2013 CMAX Hybrid so I'll note my opinion. BACKGROUND: I drive it mainly on the highway commuting to work (small hilly terrain, no mountains). I've had it about 1 month and it now has 1200 miles (yes I drive a lot, hence why I got it for the mileage). It does have EV+ and switches to more electric near common locations. I also use the ECO cruise option on the highway.

    MILEAGE: Nowhere close to the EPA estimates. Sometimes in the city if the battery is cold it's as low as 20 mpg. I have occasionally (and I mean rarely) hit 38-40 on the highway. I sometimes get better in the city, but that's even rarer. Overall MPG (according to the car) is 34.3 MPG which is about right based on my estimate. Overall, I'm fairly disappointed.

  18. PS: It takes regular gas and drive nice (better than the Prius which I also test drove). Tire pressure is also fine and weather has been about between 50-70 and sunny, so I'm not using a lot of heat or A/C (I even turned it off yesterday and it seemed to make no difference in MPG).

  19. I also have C-Max and have gotten 47mpg hwy working at drafting on the freeways around Atlanta and calculating miles/actual gallons first fill up. The dealer put Premium fuel in it and I think it made a difference. My second fill up mainly city I got 44mpg on regular gas. My total average is 44.5MPG on about 900 miles. Gas mileage goes down with outside temps. I'm averaging 50% EV mode. Ford uses a very aggressive recharging strategy and you have to let off the gas to get into EV mode and then back on it to keep speed, it takes a light touch. C-MAX hybrid system is very different from Escape HD and Prius.

  20. I have a C-Max too, with almost 5k miles on it. I'm getting about 35-36 mpg. I'm going to have my first oil change soon, and I've heard this can help. If it doesn't, I won't be happy. If this is the mileage it is going to get I would have bought a 2012 Civic and saved 15K.

    And btw, there are several websites with drivers tracking their mileage (fueleconomy.gov is one), and most other manufacturers get a little higher than their advertised mpg. The C-Max is getting 40mpg on average. This isn't a "driver" issue. This is a false advertising issue.

  21. I would recommended you go to fordcmaxhybridforum.com and fuelly.com to keep track of your gas mileage. Sorry to say this is a combination of optimistic EPA numbers should be around 43mpg and drivers need to be trained to drive a C-MAX. With 2.5k my average is 44.9mpg. I'm looking at making a center grill cover for sale which has shown a 3mpg improvement at 70mph. I'm curious what your driving conditions are. You can email me at paul@star-instruments.com

  22. I traded in my 2009 Volkswagen Diesel Jetta Sportwagen for a new 2013 C-Max Sel. I'm saving .60 to 80 per gallon for fuel. With a little over 1100 miles on the C-Max I'm averageing 43.2 miles per gallon. That's local and highway miles. I do notice with the colder weather the gas engine comes on sooner, so I expect the milage to drop. the best average I've had so far is 44.2 MPG. I don't think it will ever reach the advertised MPG of 47. I think the car has a quality ride and I'm very pleased with the MPG when I compare it with my VW.

  23. We purchased a C-Max with great anticipation. We had an Altima Hybrid that never lived up to the gas mileage claims, although it was within an acceptable range. So far we have less than 3000 miles on the car and we are averaging low 30's. I run the display to show acceleration, braking, and cruising results. I have tried to get maximum results across all three and so far my best mileage result has been 37 mpg, far short of the 47 suggested. Most of our drives are short hops, but our highway treks have not shown any improvement in results. I certainly would be happier to be posting low 40's on average. Not sure once the car is serviced will result in better mileage. I have checked other forums where "owners" are claiming 40 - 50+ averages.

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