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Consumer Reports: New Ford Hybrids Don't Meet Mileage Ratings

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it's always nice when the big boys say, "You're right."

We reported three weeks ago that Ford's new 2013 hybrids were not achieving their 47-mpg EPA gas mileage rating in real-world usage.

Now Consumer Reports has confirmed that finding, based on its own testing, in videos and a blog post published yesterday.

The consumer magazine achieved real-world mileage of 39 mpg combined in the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid it tested, and 37 mpg in its 2013 Ford C-Max.

Both vehicles are rated at 47 mpg combined by the EPA.

As the magazine's post says, "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."

That's a pretty damning statement.

Consumer Reports goes on to note that the test results are fully 20 percent lower than the EPA rating, while, "Our overall-mpg results are usually pretty close to the EPA's combined-mpg estimate."

The post containing the comments includes a chart of the differences between CR's test results and the EPA ratings for 18 different cars it has tested recently. The two Ford hybrids top the list with the greatest difference.

At the other end are the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco, which equaled its 29-mpg rating exactly, and the Honda CR-Z hybrid hatchback, in which CR's test drivers actually bettered its combined 34-mpg rating by 1 mpg.

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

(We would have preferred Consumer Reports to rank the differences by percent, rather than by the non-linear MPG scale, but the Fords would still have been at the top.)

Other outlets have reported similar results.AutoGuide, for instance, achieved just 40 mpg in a brief test of a Fusion Hybrid.

Earlier, Jason Harper, testing the 2013 Fusion Hybrid for Bloomberg, got 36.9 mpg.

And Gary Gastelu, writing for Fox News, said of his Fusion Hybrid, "It took a lot of work to get it anywhere near 40 mpg, let alone that magic 47 mpg mark."

While Green Car Reports hasn't yet had a 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid to test, we've now driven the C-Max Hybrid twice.

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012

Enlarge Photo

At Ford's media drive, it delivered 37 mpg over 50 miles of mixed freeway and urban driving.

And during an abbreviated weekend test route, we got 40 mpg over 240 miles, mostly at freeway speeds.

The Ford hybrid situation could be especially awkward given that recent gas-mileage ratings errors by Hyundai and Kia have now gotten the attention of Congress.

In those cases, the carmakers had to re-rate their cars; apologize profusely to the public, to officials, and to their buyers; and issue refunds to buyers of the affected cars for the increased gasoline costs over the cars' lifetimes.

Will Ford be forced to take similar action? Stay tuned; there's clearly more to come on this story.

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Comments (26)
  1. I don't know who I should dump on - Ford, or the EPA?
     
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  2. Real world mileage has little to do with EPA ratings. The question is whether or not the EPA ratings Ford has claimed (since the OEMs do their own testing and report it to the EPA) would match actual confirmation tests by the EPA.

    I don't have any idea about whether or not that is true, so I won't comment there. But you clearly can't blame the EPA if Ford, like Hyundai/Kia just got caught doing, exaggerated the results. I'm not stating that Ford did, either, just that if there's a discrepancy, it's due to Ford, not the EPA in any way.
     
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  3. Dump on me for buying a Fusion Hybrid and getting 35mpg. I do run the AC on max though.
     
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  4. Lets compare that to MY 09 Camry which got 15% higher than the rated MPG or 37 combined. I did hyper and lay off the brakes to get there
     
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  5. The CR numbers match very closely what I see on my 2013 Fusion. Mid-30s for city and around 40 for highway. The Fusion is one of the few hybrids that get better mileage on the highway. If you can stay below 62 MPH, you can get really excellent mileage because the Fusion will go into EV mode and run on electricity only.

    Ford should be subject to exactly the same scrutiny that the Korean carmakers endured recently over their inflated EPA claims.

    The Fusion still does as good or better than the Camry hybrid, so they had no reason to inflate their numbers.
     
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  6. My 2012 Camry LE hybrid averages 45mpg during the winter and 50+ during warm weather here in Maine. Presently averaging 51mpg(!), considerably higher than sticker EPA (39/43/41). Yes, I drive legally most of the time, but this car has gone way beyond expectation.

    Oh, Camry hybrid switches to EV while driving at highway speeds just like Fusion. Not sure why highway mpg is rated higher.
     
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  7. What is shocking is the FACT that Prius C and Prius are the next 2 models on that chart with the BIGGEST difference between CR and EPA MPG rating. According to CR, Prius C is only 43mpg and Prius is only 44 MPG.

    I get about 42MPG in my experience with the Prius.

    I guess my foot is NOT much worse than Consumer Report's.
     
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  8. "We would have preferred Consumer Reports to rank the differences by percent"

    Diff by % Make & model CR EPA Diff
    21.3% Ford C-Max SE 37 47 10
    17.0% Ford Fusion Hybrid SE 39 47 8
    14.0% Toyota Prius C Two 43 50 7
    13.8% Infiniti M35h 25 29 4
    12.0% Toyota Prius 44 50 6
    10.3% Lexus RX 450h 26 29 3
    10.3% Buick LaCrosse (4-cyl., eAssist) 26 29 3
    10.0% Lexus ES 300h 36 40 4
    9.1% Honda Civic Hybrid 40 44 4
    8.3% Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 33 36 3
    7.3% Honda Insight EX 38 41 3
    5.0% Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE 38 40 2
    5.0% Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 19 20 1
    4.8% Lexus CT 200h 40 42 2
    3.6% Toyota Highlander Hybrid 27 28 1
    2.4% Toyota Prius V Three 41 42 1
    0.0% Chevrolet Malibu Eco 29 29 0
    -2.9% Honda CR-Z EX (manual) 35 34 -1
     
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  9. A quick 30 sec of spreadsheet will get that figured out.

    Now, you know why I dislike Prius C but love Prius V.
     
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  10. Interesting post Xiaolong, thank you.

    Also interesting to note, since I recall you've brought it up before, how much closer CR's ratings for the Prius and CT 200h are, than the EPA ratings.
     
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  11. Ideally speaking, if they are the same powertrain, similar weight, then the ONLY major difference in this case are tires and "drivers".

    CT200h is geared toward slightly more "sporty" feel.

    Also, Prius V is much closer to regular Prius in CR's rating but their EPA ratings are "far apart"... Sounds fishy, doesn't it? The weight difference aren't that big...

    But to be honest, I do know Prius owners who "easily" get 50mpg in their Prius though. However, they "swear" that they don't try (hypermile) to get that MPG but I certainly don't think I will "ever" be able to drive like they do...(just too slow for me).
     
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  12. Meanwhile I am averaging above EPA in my 2012 Honda Insight, with no hypermiling.
     
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  13. Fuelly shows all Priuses (in fact all Toyota and Lexus hybrids) getting close to the EPA figures.
     
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  14. My lifetime consumption for the Prius is 4.2 l/100 km (56 mpg) over 3.5 years. Without hypermiling, but with 'intelligent' driving habits. I don't know how the CR folks arrive at 44, you need a lead foot to get there in the Prius.
     
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  15. I actually got it down to 42 in the one week that I had. But I was trying to find if the Prius is ever going to be "fun" to drive. It turns out that it couldn't. The engine doesn't even sound all that great... With CVT, you can't even control how it whines...

    Lowering to the low 40s MPG is simple. Just cruising above 80mph and it will get there easily...
     
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  16. I own a Ford C Max. So far my mileage results agree with the Consumer's Reports numbers almost exactly. My over-all average, measured pump-to-pump is 37.6. My last two cars (Hondas) gave me exactly the combined EPA numbers so I don't believe the weight of my foot is at issue.
     
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  17. I also own a Ford C-Max. Thus far my mileage results also agree with the Consumer's Reports numbers. At first, I was getting 38 MPG. I was told by Ford dealerships to wait until the car was broke in--at around 2,000 to 3,000 miles (I am now close to 3,000 miles and my MPG is actually DECREASING). Gradually, my gas mileage has continued to go down--to 37, 36, and now 35.2 MPG. This is all around, mixed freeway and urban driving. I drive carefully and TRY to get into the upper 40's MPG as Ford claims; and I've tried most of the things that Achim Bruckner (see below) suggests/recommends and I still average 35 to 37 MPG. Looks like Ford may eventually meet the same fate as Kia and Hundai with the EPA investigation.
     
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  18. I own a 2013 Fusion Hybrid and it is even worse. 36-38 highway, I do very little city. My 2010 FFH however exceed EPA when I try, gets right in the middle when I dont. I have to flog it to get below.
     
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  19. So for the Prius, CR numbers are much lower than EPA numbers. However, Fuelly and other info suggest consumers match EPA numbers. So CR is wrong.


    For the C-Max, CR numbers are much lower than the EPA numbers, and that matches consumer values and other info. So CR is right.

    In the end, I don't know what to believe in terms of long term consumer experience for the C-Max MPG.

    In any case, it makes me want to stay with the Prius Family.
     
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  20. I think the issue goes back to "performance". I keep mention this and people keep "avoiding" this.

    A car that has more performance have to be driven "specifically" to get the EPA rated MPGs in the real world. A car that "limits" its performance will get the EPA rating in the real world. But in the situation where testing demands more "performance", then its rating will drop. That is the typical case of C-Max vs. Prius.

    I would also imagine that most C-Max buyers aren't the former Prius owners. Prius owners tend to drive "differently" than other drivers. Also, people who buy C-Max probably are drawn by its slightly better performance in trade off with the slightly worse EPA rating. So, buyers will use those performance in real world
     
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  21. Perhaps worth noting, the Prius is still at the top of the MPG rating, even with the CR ratings. It is ahead by more than 10% at 44 mpg. I wonder how the Prius compares to the Diesels in CR MPG numbers?
     
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  22. It's very easy to reach and surpass EPA numbers.
    1. You don't need to feather your gas pedal (more later).
    2. Over-inflate your tires by 10 % and make sure you change to low rolling resistance tires as soon as OEM tires are gone.
    3. 5S your car. You don't need to carry around all that crap.
    4. Fill up with premium gas. Costs ~ 8% more but increases your range by ~10 % (At least at the couple cars I drove).
    5. Driving style: Accelerate rather hard. You want to use maximum battery power. One you hit cruising speed (5-10 mph above speed limit - no need to annoy fellow motorists), try to hold steady. Use cruise control as much as possible. Use tailwind of fellow motorists, but keep distance at heavy traffic.
     
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  23. 6. Since you deplete batteries faster with hard acceleration, you need to recharge more. Slightly apply brake at downhill stretches and use red lights as your friend - means watch your recharge meter until you figured out most efficient braking pressure to utilize regen most.

    7. Don't loose your momentum. Means learn how to handle higher G-forces in curves ... your wife will get used to it!

    I easily beat EPA numbers of my Honda Insight. 46.4 mpg (miles/gallons pumped, not display number)over 38K, 50% Highway, 50% city, South Carolina
     
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  24. These methods don't work well with the Ford. The Fusion doesn't use battery for acceleration unless you floor it, and then it uses ICE to recharge what you used while you are cruising. When the battery is charged, the instant MPG goes up to 40 or so, but until then its stuck between 20-30.
    I overinflated the tires, and actually lost MPG in mine, and surprised the hell out of me since I have done it on all my other Hybrids. Might just be crappy tires.
    I dont know about others, but as soon as I lift my foot the car slows down, defeating the brake regen, so if I want to use brake regen, I have to get closer to the light, otherwise the car slows down too soon. Total opposite of my 2010 FFH.
     
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  25. Drive it like a hybrid and you will get 48 mpg, Friday was 60 degrees and that is what I got on my normal hilly drive of 50 miles! Cold and rainy days are 40/41 mpg. CR drives at 65 over the hybrid ability and they drive like a non hybrid, watch the videos. Start slow and mind the 62 hour limit and you will win!
     
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  26. I love my 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, but it will never get 47 mpg. I live ~48 miles from work, and I've checked it at different speeds. At 69-70 mph, I consistently get 39-40 mpg. At 72-73 mph, I get 36-37 mpg. At 75 mph, I get 34 mpg. I use Eco cruise, get 100% brake coach scores, and drive maybe 2.5 - 3 miles in EV mode per 97 mile round trip.

    As an opinion, I suspect you could get higher mpg if you could dip down below 62 mph frequently and go into EV mode more frequently.

    From test driving, the Fusion was much quieter than the Camry. They were equally enjoyable to drive, but the Fusion had better leg room. Laterally, the Camry had a little more room. Both cars feel lightweight compared to my last car (Intrigue).

    I would buy it again.
     
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