2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
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  • 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
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Ford, and other automakers selling hybrid electric vehicles, may need to place a warning label near the city/highway miles per gallon label on the car's window sticker: "WARNING: Your average fuel economy will be determined by your driving conditions, including speed traveled on highways and how you apply your braking."

Right now, what consumers see is the EPA rating for city, highway and combined mileage. Automotive News reporter Larry Vellequette has had a disappointing experience since buying his 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, which has an official combined EPA rating of 47 miles per gallon. The problem? He's only been getting a little bit over 37 mpg.

He's owned the car less than a month, but has put on 1,000 miles so far. To learn more about what's going on, he visited John Davis, chief engineer for the C-Max, Focus and Fiesta. Davis did a ride and drive with Vellequette, who offered him a few tips on improving the fuel consumption. His first verdict for what was tweaking the mileage: speeding.

More than 96 miles of Vellequette's 120-mile daily commute are on a six-lane interstate in southeast Michigan with a speed limit of 70 mpg and traffic that's usually going faster. Once you go over 62 mpg in the C-Max, Davis said, the electric drive isn't assisting and the gasoline engine takes over. The good news is that once the C-Max is broken in, it will be delivering one-two percent better mileage, Davis said.

The coaching helped Vellequette change his driving habits a bit, including accelerating more evenly, using the cruise control more and practicing slow extended braking so that the regenerative braking system recaptures more energy. He'll be watching carefully to see where the mileage is going. He's also been asking other C-Max owners what their experiences have been like. Some say the car has yet to come close to the promised mpg, while others told him they've exceeded that number. Anyone out there have their own experience to share?


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 81 Comments
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      So much better than a cramped useless Prius.
        JRBEINGINEER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rick
        My Prius is roomy, comfy, and eminently versatile. As a colleague of mine has observed, “To each his zone”.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I just had my 10k service.. I have been very upset with this mpg issue. I have been told buy the dealership that the full breaking period was 10k miles. After getting the service. My mpg went from 36.7 avg to 31mpg avg. Complete ripoff. Even though I like the car I got it for the mpg reason and it's a total failure.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have had my CMAX for one month 1500 miles and get 46 mpg average. When traveling to work I follow a truck average 60 to 62 mph. In heavy traffic the MPG for the trip goes up to 50 mpg. I have the sirus traffic option and when I see a back up on the Nav I start slowing as soon as I see brake lights. When I am going down a steep hill i Hit the down hill assist on the on the gear shift which seems to increase the regen brake. I like to play EV mode games so when I take a city street with dips and stops 25 zone I see how far I can go in the ev mode.
      • 2 Years Ago
      We just got a CMAX a week ago and log in a complant with ford on the 34 mpg i been getting. Deal said there is a break in time around 3,000 miles. He also keeps putting in about winter gas will take 20% away from your MPG?????? Love the car so far but not happy with Gordie Boucher in Janesville Wi for passing the buck so fast.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I just bought a CMax and have 500 miles on it. I am averaging just about 40 MPG. I can get it higher if I drive very conservatively. I test drove the Prius but didn't like it. The ride, visibility and acceleration are much nicer in the CMax. Not getting the 47 advertised but am still happy with the purchase. Much better mileage than my previous cars.
      mustang_sallad
      • 2 Years Ago
      This just in: your mileage may vary!
      garylai
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you accelerate moderately, try to coast first rather than slamming on breaks, and stick to the speed limit, you can hit EPA mileage on any car. The EPA mileage assumes you drive this way.
        danwat1234
        • 2 Years Ago
        @garylai
        With a lot of hybrids, when you let off the gas and off the brake (not pressing either pedal), hybrid cars like the Prius and maybe the C-max slightly regenerative brake, and that is inefficient if you don't want to slow down. They do that for artificial engine braking/artificial transmission drag feeling so you feel at home like a regular car, but it's inefficient. If you don't want to slow down or stop anytime soon, stay on the gas slightly, just enough to maintain speed. 'coasting' is not efficient with a lot of hybrids unless you are in neutral
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wonder when this test was done. I know that winter gas typically decreases the MPG by 10-20% on average.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      It sounds as though Jeremy Clarkson is driving it. If you keep hitting the loud pedal hard then you use more petrol. What a surprise.
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      > The good news is that once the C-Max is broken in, it will be delivering one-two percent better mileage, Davis said. This is bullshit that car dealers tell all new owners who are disappointed with the mileage. It keeps the car buyers from immediately demanding their money back during the first week or two when they can legally do so. By the time they figure out that the dealer lied about the magical break-in efficiency gain they can no longer return the vehicle.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        I agree. I also think it is used to cover for people's changing driving habits. You get a new car, you are going to uncork it a bit. Over time, you do this less and less. So your mpg really does go up, but it's not because of the car, it's because of you. A car that rotates though journos is not going to get better mpg later because each of the new journos begins a new "break-in period" between the journo and the car.
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        I think that if they were BS-ing, they wouldn't say 1-2%. They would say something a little more significant. I definately saw improved mpgs after my recent new car purchase got broken in and it was more than 1-2%. When I first got the car for about it's first 3,000 miles, it was consistantly getting around 25 mpg around the city. I was driving it very gently during its breakdown, too. Now, I never get lower than 27 mpg in the summer when I run the AC. In the winter, I get 29-30.
      Neil Blanchard
      • 2 Years Ago
      There are no magic bullets -- it always takes ecodriving to get as good fuel economy out of any vehicle. Physics is physics. Neil
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        No sh*t. It is kinda sad that people have to be told this stuff.... 'What, you mean I cannot take my hybrid to the race track, enter it in the 24 hours at sebring, and not get 50mpg?'
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      A small sample, but the folks who use fueleconomy.gov agree. 2012 Prius Combined rating - 50, Reported results - 51.4 2012 Fusion Hybrid Combined rating - 39, Reported results - 40.1 2012 Camry Hybrid Combined rating - 41, Reported results - 41.1 2013 C-Max Combined rating - 47, Reported results - 38.9
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        I noticed a lot of hyper-milers skewing the Prius ratings. I would imagine folks are using this site to post big numbers, and it not a very good source for averages. And, 4 does not make a valid sample size. I would wait a bit before you pass judgement on the C-Max. I am getting 42.8 in my 07 Prius and 41 in my new C-Max, which is larger, more powerful and a much better ride.
          Dave
          • 2 Years Ago
          Thank you for the additional data point.
        fefifofum
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        You forgot to mention that there are only 4 people reporting for the Cmax and 19 for the Prius. 4 samples isn't even close to relevant.
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