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Ford Fusion and C-Max Review

A new Fusion engine and software tweaks have little impact on mpg

Published: December 2013


Ford has a conundrum on its hands. The fuel economy we measured when we first tested its C-Max and Fusion hybrids last year was very good, placing them among the most fuel-efficient cars in their classes. The Fusion sedan got a stellar 39 mpg overall, and the C-Max wagon netted 37. But the results were far below the 47 mpg EPA estimates printed on the cars’ window stickers. We found the same situation with the Lincoln MKZ, which is an upscale sibling of the Fusion.

We weren’t the only ones to notice the gap; owners have reported lower-than-expected gas mileage online, and Ford said that it has seen a relatively high level of customer dissatisfaction with fuel economy for the C-Max.

A few months ago, it came to light that the company had never actually tested the C-Max’s fuel economy for the EPA. It used a legal loophole in the EPA’s regu­lations to simply use the Fusion’s mpg results for both cars because they share the same powertrains.

Ford then lowered the C-Max’s EPA combined estimate to 43 mpg, promised to update its hybrids to improve their real-world fuel economy, and offered software updates to existing owners for their cars. Ford also gave C-Max owners money for the difference in fuel consumption.

Because we still own our tested C-Max, Fusion, and MKZ hybrids, we had the software updates applied to our cars and retested them to see whether they improved. We conducted our tests, which use a different criteria than the EPA’s, immediately before and after the cars’ software was updated. We saw only minor differences for all three cars.  

Editor's Note: This article appeared in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.  

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