Testing Error Forces Ford To Lower MPG On Six Vehicles

A little over a year ago, Ford was riding high on a wave of enthusiasm for a product lineup that boasted some of the fuel efficient vehicles in America. Unfortunately, those MPG ratings proved to be a bit optimistic. The EPA has forced Ford to lower the MPG ratings on six of its vehicles by as much as 7 MPG, due to an internal testing error.

The hardest hit by the new MPG figures was the Lincoln MKZ hybrid, which saw its 45/45/45 MPG rating drop down to 38/37/38. The Fusion Hybrid also took a big hit, falling from 47 MPG across the board down to a 44/41/42 MPG rating. The other vehicles affected include all Ford Fiesta models (save for the Fiesta ST), the C-Max Hybrid, and both the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids.

As recompense, Ford is refunding lessees and buyers as much as $1,050 to make up for the difference in advertised and actual fuel economy. Consumer Reports was one of the first to sound the horn on Ford’s overly-generous MPG ratings, and they’ve certainly been validated by the EPA. Already the lowered MPG ratings are affecting sales, especially of the C-Max Hybrid, which was supposed to be Ford’s Prius-killer.

Ford Fusion Hybrid 1

So much for that.

Ford blames both virtual aerodynamics testing, and the Total Road Load Horsepower measurements, which produced these huge discrepancies. Ford claims to have discovered the error only in March, when it immediately reached out to the EPA.

Uh huh. Pardon my skepticism, but if you’re going to try to build some of the most fuel efficient cars on the market, I’d think you’d go to great lengths to ensure your cars are actually returning the claimed MPGs. All the wind tunnel testing in the world doesn’t compare to real world driving experiences, and if road engineers were coming back with wildly different numbers than what the lab tests reported, maybe that was the time for Ford to reconsider its MPG ratings.

I’m a Blue Oval fan through and through, but this whole thing reeks of bureaucratic incompetence at best, and underhanded trickery at worse. European automakers have been called out for deceptive fuel economy testing practices, and who’s to say American automakers aren’t doing the same thing?

Model Year Vehicle Powertrain Revised(City, Highway, Combined) Previous(City, Highway, Combined) Lease Customers PurchaseCustomers
2014 Fiesta 1.0L GTDI M/T 31 / 43 / 36 32 / 45 / 37 $125 $200
1.6L A/T 27 / 37 / 31 29 / 39 / 32 $150 $250
1.6L SFE A/T 28 / 38 / 32 30 / 41 / 34 $275 $450
1.6L M/T 28 / 36 / 31 27 / 38 / 31 Combined MPG not affected Combined MPG not affected
2013-14 C-MAX Hybrid 42 / 37 / 40 45 / 40 / 43 $300 $475
Fusion Hybrid 44 / 41 / 42 47 / 47 / 47 $450 $775
MKZ Hybrid 38 / 37 / 38 45 / 45 / 45 $625 $1,050
Model Year Vehicle Powertrain Revised**(Charge Sustaining, Charge Depleting, EV Range) Previous**(Charge Sustaining, Charge Depleting, EV Range) Lease Customers PurchaseCustomers
2013-14 C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid 38 mpg / 88 MPGe+ /19 mi EV range 43 mpg / 100 MPGe+ /21 mi EV range $475 $775
Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid 38 mpg / 88 MPGe+ /19 mi EV range 43 mpg / 100 MPGe+ /21 mi EV range $525 $850

Christopher DeMorro

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.