Facing Fuel-Economy Fracas, Ford Focuses On Gas Mileage Myths (Video)

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Many buyers of new Ford cars--both its 2013 C-Max and Fusion hybrids, and those fitted with its EcoBoost line of downsized, turbocharged engines--report real-world gas mileage much lower than the cars' EPA ratings.

Ford is trying to counter almost a year's worth of media attention to these concerns by working to educate the public, and drivers in particular, about factors that affect fuel economy.

The concern over Ford's fuel economy under real-world conditions arose soon after it launched its new 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid models.

Many media reports--including those on this site and Consumer Reports, among many others--noted that owners simply weren't getting anywhere near the cars' 47-mpg combined EPA ratings.

Two weeks ago, Ford announced it would update control software in its 2013 hybrids--those two models and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid--to improve real-world fuel efficiency by making a number of tweaks to reduce consumption under certain types of use.

Ford's latest attempt to educate drivers about factors that affect fuel economy is an 8-minute video in which Kevin Layden, Ford's director of electrification programs and engineering, discusses various myths and recommendations about gasoline and gas mileage. 

Layden knocks down some common wisdom that turns out not to affect fuel economy--including the myths that filling up in the morning or in colder temperatures will let you get more gasoline into your tank.

Filling the tank more slowly also turns out not to matter, despite the notion that fewer gasoline vapors that take up space in the tank are produced.

Layden says Ford engines are designed to run on regular unleaded fuel, but that some vehicles will produce higher power and torque using premium or mid-grade fuel--and slightly higher gas mileage.

But, he asks, how much does this really save you? He points out that drivers may pay more for the pricier fuel than they save in reduced consumption.

Predictably, Layden recommends minimizing use of the car's air conditioner--which is sized to cool the vehicle quickly, and hence uses a lot of power--and keeping tires properly inflated.

And he acknowledges that putting an automatic-transmission car into neutral at a long light may save a bit of fuel, although it's not recommended because it puts more wear and tear on transmission components.

Watch Layden's video, and then tell us whether you agree with Ford's conclusions about fuel economy.

Also, what other myths and tips are there out there about how to boost your gas mileage?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (19)
  1. Q What can I do to get great Fuel Economy?
    A Well, that's a great question. Basically, I would, um recommend trying a Toyota Prius, yep that is your best bet for you and your family. We here at Ford are getting close to figuring out how Toyota has been doing it for 14 years, but we are not quite there yet.
    Of course you could by a Focus EV, which is twice as efficient as anything else we sell at Ford, but we know you really don't what that. But it's there, ya know, if you want to do that.

  2. ** "want that" not "what that" sigh.

  3. I liked your post, John, but I accidentally fat-fingered a thumbs down on it. Sure wish it wasn't so easy to do that and there was some way to correct it.

  4. If Ford is so interested in debunking myths it really should give their viewpoint on the theory that's going around that Ford hybrid economy numbers aren't anywhere near real world economy because the cars use more power from the battery during the test cycle than is replenished. In other words that Ford's MPG numbers don't tell the truth about all the energy that was used during the test cycle, so that no matter how people stick to Ford's recommendations they will never ever get close to the EPA numbers it provides.

  5. To the best of my knowledge, since all of the energy from a hybrid comes from the fuel powering the ICE engine, hybrid vehicles are always tested starting with a depleted battery to determine fuel economy. The tests are the same as a regular ICE engine. This is not an explanation of variance.

    AFAIK, the charge sustaining mode for PHEV's uses the same procedures. The electric mode for BEV's and PHEV's is different; they just keep running the city cycle until there is no more juice.

  6. AFAIK your explanation is not correct. That's why I would like to know what Ford has to say about this.

  7. You both aren't correct. "...the EPA carefully monitors the battery’s state of charge at the beginning and the end of the tests and requires that there be little net energy change. That’s to prevent a hybrid from starting the cycle with a full battery and ­finishing with a depleted one, thus benefiting from a useful amount of unaccounted-for energy. This would be unrealistic because in the real world you don’t enjoy the advantage of a fully charged battery for every short trip. Because of this legal requirement, calibrating to the cycle is, to a certain extent, necessary."

    So, the more correct version is from Rich K because the intent is for a net-neutral battery charge for EPA mileage testing. Source: Car and Driver, May 2013 issue.

  8. But Rich K isn't fully correct is because the battery state of charge is full (or at least somewhat full) at the start of the test. This is the best they can do, but it still doesn't reflect real life in that you don't always start your trip with a full charge.

  9. You are correct. I had some problems with Csaba Cserse's C&D article -- I believe Ford is running the 5-cycle test not using a mathematical construct. Although it's very hard to find the exact EPA procedures, it is based on SAE J1711 testing which requires a constant state of charge. If you want to make your head hurt, I found an interesting research paper that talks about charge-sustaining mode (i.e., hybrid) where the charge sustaining is not constant through various phases of the test and the effect on fuel economy:


    At any rate, the testing protocol is the same for all manufacturers so no single one has an advantage.

  10. Just "detune" the car with software and make it slower than Prius and Leaf, it will gain significantly more MPG....

  11. Maybe this video was designed for people who haven't been driving very long? Seriously, it is just dumb and no different than the type of demeaning propaganda that Nissan employs in response to battery degradation complaints, which is quite clearly NOT the result of "extreme temperatures," but rather engineering the Leaf without a TMS. In this case with Ford, I don't how many other ways you can provide the runaround. When you stoop to presenting older than dirt myths and then debunking them...to what ends exactly? Are they implying that it is a user problem? The fact is that the vehicles' fuel economies were/are patently overstated. Change this deceptive practice and move ahead. Toyota actually understates. Now there's a concept for you.

  12. The blind myopic Toyota groupies are scared to death because real world facts show Ford is kicking their azz with better looking, higher quality cars. They are so inoculated in their false belief that Toyota is something special, they can't see the writing on the wall. But the word is getting out! The new Fusion will be the best selling car in the U S next year. Mark you calendar Toy 0 ta zealots. New King in town!

  13. Very few groupies. The stats just speak for themselves.



  14. Toyota Prius C 50.5 mpg
    Toyota Prius 48.2 mpg
    Honda Insight 44.9 mpg (only 10 cars)
    Ford Fusion 41.0 mpg (hybrid)
    Ford C-max 40.2 mpg
    Honda CRZ 39.9 mpg
    VW Jetta TDI 38.8 mpg

    Interesting to me is that the two Honda's are both about 2 mpg better than the EPA combined number.
    That contrasts with the two fords that are 6 mpg lower than EPA combined number.
    If mpg is your game, Toyota is still way ahead, particularly for city driving.

  15. I wanted a Honda CR-Z until I learned the Fusion and Prius were both more fuel efficient with three more seats! I bought a Prius instead.

    More FUEL for THOUGHT?

    The 1985 Honda CRX got 48 MPG vs 2010 Honda Insight's 43 MPG according to Automobile Magazine in June 2009.


  16. Interesting about the fuel economy in the real world. Guessing it is a lot about how a car is driven and also the performance it is capable of. Vehicles that are capable of more performance are likely to be driven that way reducing the real world mpg. I have a 2013 Ford Focus SE hatchback with a 5 speed manual transmission with 6,000 miles on it and just returned from a 1,300 mile trip that I drove at 70 mph with the ac on most of the way and went over the mountains by Lake Tahoe 2 times. I averaged 44.2 mpg. The window sticker rates the vehicle at 26 city and 36 highway. Hmmm.

  17. That's impressive, right up there with my 2010 Prius, maybe better as I've not yet been to the mountains.

    When you're in the zone over long periods you're going to get better efficiency.

  18. Don't concentrate on: real world MPG data from 99.9% of customers.
    Do concentrate on: these old MPG tips.

  19. "Your mileage may vary" is the caveat from every automaker.

    What we need are more realistic testing protocols, AND, a 3rd party to run the tests, not the manufacturers themselves.

    I drive a 2010 Prius that according to Transport Canada is rated at 3.8L / 100 km, or 61.9 American MPG (according to http://calculator-converter.com/l_100km_mpg_convert_mpg_to_l_per_100_km.php)

    I have never gotten anywhere near that number. I'm typically 5-5.5, which is about 42-46 American MPG.

    My car also has the optional solar powered cabin ventilation which reduces heat build up when parked in the sun. That's cool, if you'll pardon the pun.

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