Consumer Reports Questions MPG Claims for Ford Fusion and C-Max Hybrids

In tests conducted by Consumer Reports, Ford Motor Company’s Fusion and C-Max hybrid models feel short of the 47 mpg combined city / highway fuel efficiency promised by the automaker.

In an email statement last week, Consumer Reports said that in its recent tests, the Fusion hybrid got 39 mpg, while the C-Max achieved 37 mpg.

An EPA official who asked not to be identified has said that the agency intends to examine Consumer Reports’ testing data.

Consumer Reports’ head of automotive testing Jake Fisher said, “This is the largest discrepancy that we’ve seen. Hopefully the EPA and Ford can look into this. It’s important to get to the bottom of this and make sure that the claimed fuel economy is going to be what consumers find in the real world.” He said that approximately 80 percent of vehicles tested by Consumer Reports come within 2 mpg of their EPA estimates.

The discrepancies between Ford’s claims and Consumer Reports’ test results amounts to 17 percent in the case of the Fusion hybrid, and 20 percent in the case of the C-Max hybrid.

The 2013 Fusion hybrid went on sale in the U.S. in October, and received Green Car Journal’s coveted Green Car of the Year award last month.  The model was designed to compete with Toyota Motor Corporation’s Camry hybrid which gets an EPA estimated fuel efficiency of 40 mpg city / highway. The Camry has been the top-selling car in the U.S. for a decade.

Improved fuel economy is a key element in Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s strategy to gain market share from competitors including Toyota and GM. To that end, Ford is launching six new hybrid and electric models this year, including the Fusion and C-Max hybrids.

In an email statement, Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said, “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. Driving styles, driving conditions and other factors can cause mileage to vary.”

Fisher also pointed out that in Consumer Reports’ tests the Camry hybrid delivered 38 mpg, not the EPA estimated 40 mpg. He went on to say that the Fusion hybrid and C-Max hybrid are “still excellent vehicles when it comes to fuel economy. They are not gas guzzlers, but they’re certainly not matching the advertised claims.”

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