The Ford C-Max is an important vehicle for the automaker. It represents the very first dedicated hybrid they have produced. The company has big plans for the car, it is being pitted directly against the Prius v as a mainstream crossover hybrid.
Furthermore, and of great important to us, the C-Max comes too as a plugin in version with 21 miles of EV range and a price less that $30,000 after tax credit.
Ford just launched the C-Max and has begun a concerted marketing effort to drive sales. It is doing well so far with considerable and growing early sales.
Unfortunately for Ford just at this critical juncture, the venerated Consumer Reports has declared the vehicle does not get the fuel efficiency that Ford has announced.
Ford stated that the C-Max Energi would get a combined EPA of 47 mpg. These are official EPA numbers that were determined using the traditional city and highway federal driving cycles.
In CR's real world testing, however, they found the car only delivered 37 mpg average. In a table posted on their site (shown above) this was the largest discrepancy of all hybrids tested. Almost all the hybrids performed lower in CRs hands than on the EPA tests, for example the Prius scored 6 mpg lower.
Since the big public splash this news had made, the EPA has decided they will investigate. According to Autoblog, EPA officials have said they will "look at the report and data" from CR testing.
Ford spokespeople point out that one reason for such a wide variation seen in the C-Max is the fact that it has 50 more horsepower than for example the Prius. Because it is possible to get a responsive mash on the accelerator in the C-Max it is possible to lower real world mpg more dramatically than in other hybrids. Some owners Ford points out, using the opposite driving behavior, have even tweaked the car to get 55 mpg.
"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. This reinforces the fact that driving styles, driving conditions and other factors can cause mileage to vary," says Ford.
There are no public CR tests of the plugin C-Max yet. Ford has announced that car will get 43 mpg when operating in non-electric mode.