Ford’s New Hybrids Falling Far Short Of MPG Expectations


As the only American automaker to avoid the much maligned government auto bailout, Ford has found itself in a strong position to gain market share and credibility with consumers. So far, Ford has done a great job with arguably its strongest product lineup ever…but nothing good can last. There’s a bit of trouble in paradise over the real-world fuel economy of the Ford C-Max Hybrid and 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, which are delivering less-than-expected mpg numbers for many consumers and reviewers.

What started as some quiet grumbling is growing into a louder chorus as car reviewers praise everything about the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the C-Max…except the fuel economy. WIth both vehicles rated at 47 mpg city and highway, it is safe to say that consumers have high expectations for these vehicles.

Consumer Reports is the latest entity to express disappointment over the new Ford hybrid fuel economy, with its testers reporting an average of between 33 and 39 mpg. That’s a far cry from the 47 mpg rating the Ford hybrids come with, and even factoring in the whole “your mileage may vary” argument, these numbers are way lower than customers were probably expecting.

CR even points out that on the government’s website, the average self-reported fuel economy for C-Max Hybrid owners is just around 40 mpg. For the Fusion Hybrid, it is barely over 37 mpg. Just one CR tester, with a long highway commute, was able to get even close to 40 mpg on the highway in the Fusion. Then again, the testers over at C-NET managed to wring an average of 45 mpg out of their C-Max Hybrid.

Has Ford overpromised and underdelivered? Possibly. I’ve also heard from those who have had a chance to drive both cars that there’s more power on tap than most hybrids, allowing (and perhaps encouraging) more spirited driving that kills fuel economy. But try explaining that to someone who just shelled out $30,000 for a new Ford hybrid.

Are we about to see a repeat of the Kia/Hyundai mpg debacle? As a Ford fan, I certainly hope not…but one cannot universally dismiss this growing chorus of disappointed drivers and reviewers either. What are your thoughts or experiences with the new Ford Hybrids and their mpg woes?

Source: Consumer Reports | C-NET

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Tem Kuechle

    The mileage issue is probably a situation that can be explained by at least 5 factors:
    Driving habits and no efficiency coaching.
    Method of testing vs real world variability.
    Expectations based on marketing blather.
    I’m waiting for the crash test ratings for the C-Max energi before I go any further with buying one.

  • Annie Rothman

    My expectations were based on the sticker that was on the side window of the car in the showroom. It said 47/47. I am a conservative driver—no jack rabbit starts, slow & steady acceleration, rarely over 65 mph. I’m getting low/mid 30s with my 2013 Fusion hybrid. I’m not new to hybrids, having had a Prius for the past several years. I feel like I got cheated.

  • itsaboutchoice

    Driving a 2009 prius, in the summer without AirC using the natural features of its design like, coasting, using a little battery to get over the next small hill to coast some more. Driving routes that make it easier to hyper-mile. It nicely provides 65mpg, drive like everyone else and it will drop to the low 50’s, lead foot it and get 40’s.

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  • Lee Thomas

    I wonder how much this is a case of Ford (and other manufacturers) tuning their efficiency for the highest rating in the test at the expense of efficiency in how they actually are getting driven?

  • Jeremy Thomas

    My chum has a 2008 Mondeo diesel he uses for taxi work, he averages 54mpg imperial which equates to 43 mpg. A Mondeo is a Fusion is a Mondeo etc. No expensive hybrid technology and a 1500 USD premium over a much inferior petrol model. (easily recouped via stronger residuals)

    Yet the Marketing sorts at Ford Towers say there is no market for such vehicles in the USA.

    The sooner the Cruz comes to market and shows the mass market appeal of Diesel the better.

  • Andy

    I don’t know what the problem is. I get 50mpg in my fusion hybrid.

    • Care to share your secrets? I am getting ~38 with 70% highway miles (2500 miles now).

      • Andy

        It got much better once it hit 4,000 miles after a 1,000 mile road trip. I accelerate slow to 20mph and let the eco cruise take over. Other than that just the normal stuff. Always use cruise control and brake slow. I rarely speed. I get 64 mpg on an 11 mile trip to work and 48-54 coming back (more downhill there and more uphill back). That’s mainly in town. If I do 70+ I usually take a hit but still get 40-42.

        • Good information. I find it funny that they advertise this as learning our driving habits. What they really mean is they are retraining us with these tools like ECO mode and brake coaching on how to drive more efficiently.

          My car looks exactly like the picture on this page. Very nice car and very comfortable for road trips. I am not seeing EV+ since the 1st week of driving though.

          I had a bad experience after 8 days. I got stranded with the car not engaging into run mode. Problem turned out to be a bad connector on the main wiring harness. They replaced practically all of the engine compartment wiring (the harness snakes everywhere, even under the dash behind the nav system). What a mess. That has been resolves and now it is great again.

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  • We all think there is a free lunch. There isn’t. Americans insists on driving large, heavy cars with every possible power and convenience option.

    I recently spent a week driving in France and I noticed 3 things. First, the average car is about 2/3 the size of American cars. (The people are also about 2/3 the size of Americans by body weight. Go figure.) Second, the majority of vehicles on the roads have manual transmissions. Third, most of those vehicles are diesel powered. Just try selling a smallish, diesel powered car with a manual transmissions to Americans.

    Diesel cars get roughly the same mileage as hybrids but cost considerably less to purchase. And with a diesel, you don’t have to worry about the cost of replacing the battery every 100,000 miles or so.

    Hybrids are basically a marketing ploy. They are not ready for prime time, no matter what the ads may claim. This comes from someone who invested in a Prius in 2007. So I know a little of what I am talking about.

  • udlliphoto

    I agree, although diesels aren’t necessarily the answer to moving away from fossil fuels. As a smart fortwo owner I’ve been mystified as to why the very efficient diesel model of that car was not offered in the USA. Now that a new version of the fortwo is nearing production, rumor has it that once again a diesel will not be offered for the USA market, and perhaps not at all. Hard to understand…

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  • Renee Nault

    I have a 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid that I just love. I routinely get 46-47 mpg. It all comes in learning how to drive a hybrid. It’s quite different than driving my turbocharged Pontiac Grand Prix. But that doesn’t mean you have to crawl down the street. It’s a great ride and I’d highly recommend it.

    • gardencat

      No, Renee . . . it isn’t **all** from learning how to drive a hybrid. There were some problems with the first 2013s that were sold. But I’m glad you got a good one.

  • Scott Turnquist

    I have a 2011 Ford Fusion hybrid. It now has about 28,000 miles on it and my long-term average MPG has been running at 41 MPG over the course of a full year. I have a 60/40 split in miles traveled between 55mph and in-town stop-start driving. This car is very sensitive to tire pressure. I overinflated the tires by 2 psi on all tires for a trip from Southern Maryland to Upsate NY for a wedding and averaged 44.5mpg for the trip up and 42mpg for the trip back. The thing to note is this car wants to run its gas engine on startup until the gas engine is warmed up and that impacts milage when doing lots of short trips. Also, in the winter, the car will run its engine more than necessary to get heat into the cabin. I get the best gas mileage in the spring and fall when there are no demands for heat and AC.

    I am not sure how people are driving their newer Ford hybrids, but I do drive to maximize mileage – why have a hybrid otherwise? My wife calls it driving like an old man; speed limits have become my friends 😉

    Scott Turnquist

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  • SailorMan

    Best we could get, with the eco set to on and the cruise control on. And not hitting the brake at all for 30 miles was 40.2 miles with me driving and 39.4 with my wife driving on the same road and same set up, with the cruise on and eco on. Not bad, but not close to what Ford Promised in their advertising.