Consumer Reports questions mpg claims for Ford Fusion, C-Max

Ford Motor Co. has been crowing about the huge fuel economy ratings of its Fusion and C-Max hybrids.

Consumer Reports did its own tests and said it couldn’t replicate the 47 miles per gallon Ford is claiming for the city, highway and combined ratings for the vehicles.

“After running both vehicles through Consumer Reports real-world tests, CR’s engineers have gotten very good results. But they are far below Ford’s ambitious triple-47 figures,” the magazine, which operates its own testing center in Connecticut, said Thursday.

In the Consumer Reports tests, the Fusion hybrid delivered 39 mpg overall and 35 and 41 in city and highway conditions, respectively.

The C-Max hybrid achieved 37 mpg overall, with 35 and 38 for city and highway.

“These two vehicles have the largest discrepancy between our overall mpg results and the estimates published by the EPA that we’ve seen among any current models,” the magazine said.

Ford responded in a statement, saying, “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.”

A Los Angeles Times test-drive and review of the C-Max also found the fuel economy was lower than what was claimed: 37.5 mpg.

Fuel economy claims are facing greater skepticism as automakers make them the centerpiece of their advertising campaigns.

Consumer complaints to the Environmental Protection Agency, which monitors the fuel-rating system, prompted regulators to test Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

The agency said last month that Hyundai and Kia overstated the fuel economy on more than a third of the vehicles they’ve sold in recent years.

The South Korean automakers issued an apology and said they would give special debit cards to nearly a million owners to make up for the difference in the lower miles per gallon logged by the vehicles.

Automakers measure the fuel economy of their own vehicles according to a standardized test regime overseen by the EPA. They submit their results to the agency, which then approves the ratings for the window sticker that goes on new cars.

The EPA also conducts its own tests for about 15 percent of the models annually.

But the EPA’s auditing of mileage claims by automakers rarely turns up misrepresentations. It has happened two other times since 2000, once with a 2012 BMW 328i and once with a 2001 Dodge Ram pickup.

Meanwhile, Ford is recalling about 19,000 of its new Fusion sedans to fix a headlight problem.

It’s the second recall so far for the 2013 model year family sedan.

Last week, Ford recalled about 16,000 Fusions and 73,000 Escape SUVs because of problems that could cause engine fires. The recall involved only 2013 models equipped with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, the automaker said.

The issue does not affect Escape or Fusion models with other engines, it said.

In the recall announced Friday, Ford said the Fusions may not have had the low-beam headlamp projector coating properly cured during the manufacturing process.

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&Copy;2012 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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