Real World Fuel Economy Testing In The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid - Matching EPA Estimates

2013 Ford C-Max gauge cluster Engage
If you've just read GCBC's review of the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, you know that the newest Prius rival achieved EPA-matching fuel economy numbers while in our safe keeping. And you want to know why, unlike most every other auto reviewer who has driven a C-Max, the numbers achieved by GCBC in this silver, almost fully-loaded C-Max Hybrid were in line with what Ford (and thus the EPA) estimates.

How did I do it? By not trying, of course.

To be honest, for 41.5 kilometres (25.8 miles) during my first of four city mileage tests, I did try. I drove the C-Max to visit my parents on the other side of the city, and I drove like my late grandmother drove her Plymouth Reliant around Tatamagouche, a town you won't find unless you really zoom in on your Google map of northern Nova Scotia. 

During that drive, the C-Max Hybrid consumed 1.922 litres of fuel, equal to 5.11 L/100 km. That's 46 miles per gallon in U.S. speak, 55.3 if you're measuring in Imperial gallons. I paid $1.371 for both those litres.

From that point on, however, I drove as I normally do. I'm not a speed demon. I don't flout the law. It's city driving, right? You're not out there bobbing and weaving and juking and jiving. But I do tend to accelerate in such a way as to eventually lead the flow of traffic, and it's hard to get the C-Max's regenerative brake coach to always give you a 99% score. My braking wasn't as gradual as the coach wanted, and I typically scored in the mid-80s.


I love spewing the line, "It's not what you drive, it's how you drive." It's true. But you know what else is true? It's where you drive. And it is a little bit about what you drive. The Chevrolet Volt that's visiting GCBC right now has more than 7000 km on it, and without trying, I squeaked out 65 kilometres of electric-only power yesterday. In a car rated at 61 kilometres. 

The C-Max I drove had around 4500 kilometres (2800 miles) on it already. Given the nature of the drivers who've been in it before, those weren't the kindest of 4500 kilometres, but that's plenty of time for an engine to get a feel for life. It's more than enough time for an engine to get to know its battery, to marry well with its fluids and its continuously variable transmission. There is very likely a big difference between one brand new C-Max, and the mileage it will achieve in the hands of a fancy car magazine writer, and the mileage of another identical C-Max with more miles under its belt.

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL Bank Of Nova Scotia
All Photo Credits:  Steffani Cain ©www.GoodCarBadCar.net
Test #1: Every single kilometer was in the city, on both sides of the Halifax Harbour. It's hilly. There was plenty of stopping and going but very little traffic. Speeds ranged up to about 60 kmh. I filled up the C-Max at the exact same pump at the beginning and end of the test. 41.5 kilometres, 1.922 litres, 5.11 L/100km, 46 miles per gallon.

Test #2: This test was a serious disappointment, but it offered more proof that a short sampling period, maybe even a 215-kilometre sampling period, isn't tremendously useful. We were in and out of the C-Max taking pictures in cold, downtown Halifax. The vents were blowing, interior lights were often left on and exterior lights left blinking. There were no high speeds, but the short bursts of two or three kilometres were probably done with a measure of aggression and rolling stops and poor braking technique. We drove 41.5 kilometres, about 10 of which were done at a steady 60 kmh cruise, and used 3.143 litres. That's 7.57 L/100 km, or 31.1 miles per gallon.

Test #3: This test was the longest, and it again took advantage of lots of stop-and-go motion, the kinds hybrids love, but with little traffic. There was a bit of "freeway" driving on Dartmouth's circumferential highway. The temperature was warmer, quite a bit above 0ÂșC. 59.4 kilometres were driven, 2.486 litres of fuel were consumed. That's an absurdly low 4.19 L/100 km, or 56.1 mpg.

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid front angle
Test #4: With a little more driving on the circumferential, the C-Max enjoyed 85 kmh speeds for about 10 of this test's 57 kilometres. Everything else was true city driving. It can be dangerous to glance down at the power meters often, but I didn't need to: it was obvious from the lack of vibration that the C-Max was in EV mode for a huge part of this drive. 57 kilometres driven, only 2.002 litres consumed. That's a ridiculously low 3.51 L/100 km, or 67 miles per gallon.

You know better than to come to conclusions based solely on four drives completed by one person in a city which may not be your own at a temperature you may rarely encounter. There was a bit of driving aside these four tests, as well. And the final tally of 215.5 kilometres on 10.837 litres of fuel equals 5.03 L/100 km, 46.8 miles per gallon on the U.S. scale, 56.2 Imperial mpg.

The C-Max told me that 108.1 kilometres of my time in the car was in EV mode. That would obviously be impossible for me to verify, but it can't be far off. Highway time was limited, and skewed as well: much of it was at slow speeds in EV mode, not something that would happen if you were driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The numbers speak for themselves, and there are few conclusions which can be drawn aside from the fact that, unfortunately, "Your mileage will vary."

RECOMMENDED READING
Historical Monthly & Yearly Ford C-Max Sales Figures
GCBC's Review Of The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL
Real World Range & Fuel Economy Testing In A 2013 Chevrolet Volt
Every Vehicle Ranked By February 2013 & YTD U.S. Sales

8 comments:

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    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice to see a hybrid mileage test done while driving a hybrid like a hybrid.


    Many of the other 'tests' base their outcome on driving as inefficiently as possible(consumer reports included), then blaming the car for not reaching the EPA estimate.


    Most of Ford's hybrid customers are new to hybrids and are 'learning' how to drive a hybrid. Some struggling and complaining. Toyota has had 10 years to train their hybrid customers, so going from one prius to the next yields good mpg results.


    But that is good for Ford also, as many hybrid trained Prius drivers, are the biggest conquest customer for the Ford C-MAX.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Looking forward to the C-MAX Energi review and mileage test.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Open letter to Ford:

    I thought my 2013 C-MAX would be a Prius Killer? NOT! As a returning Ford buyer I feel deceived. I want to support US companies and US jobs. What was Ford thinking when they published 47/ 47/47 estimates? Based on the advertised EPA estimates, I would have been ok with low 40's but 28-33 mpg is not even in the ballpark. This is not an issue about EPA testing standards, but rather an issue about setting false customer expectations in order to promote sales. Ford's "47MPG" marketing campaign tarnished what should have been the roll out of a truly remarkable vehicle, the CMAX. Real world MPG estimates should have been promoted in the mid-30's. No one would have questioned those numbers and the CMAX would have received the accolades it deserves. How these MPG estimates made it through Ford corporate is beyond me! Maybe it was the rush to go to market? I have been accused of not knowing how to drive hybrid. For the record, during the last three years I have leased both a 2010 Prius and 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid, and consider myself an experienced hyper-miler. My mileage in the Prius is 50 plus, the Insight is 40 plus. The C-MAX is a well-built car, with extremely inflated EPA estimates. I respectfully request that this matter be investigated as soon as possible. My efforts to deal with this locally and through Ford customer service have frustrated me to no end. The constant response? "You need to learn to how to drive hybrid type of vehicle ". Is there a difference how I drive Prius Hybrid vs. the CMAX hybrid? I think we all know the answer to that. I need someone at Ford to reach out to me and assist in a proactive manner so we can put this matter to rest.

    Ronald Kramer Yankee Ford Customer
    South Portland, ME

    ReplyDelete
  5. Totally agree!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Open letter to Ford:

    I thought my 2013 C-MAX would be a Prius Killer? NOT! As a returning Ford buyer I feel deceived. I want to support US companies and US jobs. What was Ford thinking when they published 47/ 47/47 estimates? Based on the advertised EPA estimates, I would have been ok with low 40's but 28-33 mpg is not even in the ballpark. This is not an issue about EPA testing standards, but rather an issue about setting false customer expectations in order to promote sales. Ford's "47MPG" marketing campaign tarnished what should have been the roll out of a truly remarkable vehicle, the CMAX. Real world MPG estimates should have been promoted in the mid-30's. No one would have questioned those numbers and the CMAX would have received the accolades it deserves. How these MPG estimates made it through Ford corporate is beyond me! Maybe it was the rush to go to market? I have been accused of not knowing how to drive hybrid. For the record, during the last three years I have leased both a 2010 Prius and 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid, and consider myself an experienced hyper-miler. My mileage in the Prius is 50 plus, the Insight is 40 plus. The C-MAX is a well-built car, with extremely inflated EPA estimates. I respectfully request that this matter be investigated as soon as possible. My efforts to deal with this locally and through Ford customer service have frustrated me to no end. The constant response? "You need to learn to how to drive hybrid type of vehicle ". Is there a difference how I drive Prius Hybrid vs. the CMAX hybrid? I think we all know the answer to that. I need someone at Ford to reach out to me and assist in a proactive manner so we can put this matter to rest.

    Ronald Kramer Yankee Ford Customer
    South Portland, Maine

    ReplyDelete
  7. donjlorencz@shaw.ca5/23/2013 7:39 pm

    Our 2013 Ford C-Max Horror Story with Kelowna Ford Lincoln

    We purchased this car about a month ago and we purchased it because Kelowna Ford had huge banners in the windshield of the car claiming that is got 71 MPG in the city and 69 MPG on the highway and the best we have ever gotten out of it was 40.5 MPG while driving the car very easily and gently, a far cry from 71 MPG. Even in Ford Canada's brochure on the front page they claim that the car gets 71 in the city and 69 on the highway which is a bold face lie.

    How much more of this crap and outright lies and deceptions are we supposed to put up with from the Kelowna Fords and the Ford Canada's of this world before we say ' enough is enough' and do something about it.

    Right now in the United States there is a class action law suit against some dealers and Ford over this car and Ford U.S. claims that this car gets 47 MPG both in and out of the city. Same car yet the dealers and Ford U.S. claim in the states it gets 47 MPG and the lawsuit says it is not getting near that yet the SAME car in Canada is being sold and promoted by the dealers and Ford Canada as getting 71MPG.

    If this was the only part of this sale that Kelowna Ford Lincoln had lied to us about we may have chalked it up to them not having any idea as to what they were selling, but the mileage of the car was only one of many, many lies that we were lied to about by this dealership and we will never ever spend another dime with them!

    Don & Sally Lorencz

    West Kelowna, BC Canada

    ReplyDelete
  8. That's something surprising! thanks and keep it up!
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    ReplyDelete

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