Many C-Max owners -- including me -- knew the mpg estimate was askew
|Larry P. Vellequette covers Chrysler for Automotive News|
I don't want to say I told you so, but … wait; that's not entirely true.
I do want to say I told you so.
Back in mid-October, about two weeks after I bought my 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL, I wrote a column explaining that I couldn't come close to its promised 47 city/47 highway/47 combined mpg.
I went so far as to meet with the C-Max's chief engineer, asking him what I was doing wrong and how I could amend my driving habits to get what was promised.
And I wasn't alone. In the weeks and months since I first wrote about my C-Max's less-than-promised fuel economy, I heard from scores of fellow C-Maxians, some agreeing with my assessment, others having a better experience.
Now the EPA has finally tested the C-Max and found its fuel economy sticker was off-target. I'm not sure yet where that leaves me in terms of my relationship with Ford, but here are some things I do know.
I am now 10 months and 17,000 miles from my purchase last Oct. 8 of a 2013 Ford C-Max SEL. My C-Max has been recalled three times so far, including once for a software update on the finicky MyFord Touch system (the clock keeps resetting to odd times for no reason). I also got two recall letters this month, one to put additional padding in the headliner, and another to -- surprise -- reprogram the computer that decides what my fuel economy will be.
Look, being an owner doesn't necessarily make me an expert on the Ford C-Max, but here are some things I've learned about what was supposed to be my 47-mpg money saver:
Like my wife, it hates winter. Even after getting one-on-one coaching, my fuel economy dropped with the temperatures here in the Midwest, falling to an accumulated average of 34.5 at the 10,000-mile mark toward the end of February. Other C-Max owners around the country that wrote to me seemed to have better luck in warmer climates and worse in frigid areas. In retrospect, perhaps launching a temperature-sensitive hybrid in mid-autumn might not have been the best idea the Blue Oval ever had.
Fuel economy returned in the spring. Similarly, my average fuel economy began climbing again as warmer weather returned. I have a 6-mile drive that I make once a week down a relatively open city street. In colder weather, I have recorded as low as 29 mpg on the onboard monitor, and in warmer weather, with the air-conditioner off, as high as 52 mpg. The 52-mpg mark, by the way, is my own personal best for any trip that used both the gasoline and electric energy sources.
As I said before, the C-Max is a great Focus: The packaging and utility of the C-Max has grown on me with time. It is a comfortable ride with a configurable cabin that allows me to carry people and stuff with relative ease. I like the headroom, the visibility and almost all of the controls.
In fact, I have been amazed at how well its resale value has held up since my purchase. According to KBB.com, even with 17,000 miles, my C-Max has a private party value that is within about $1,000 of what I paid for it last fall. Of course, this little revelation might change that.
I don't yet know what Ford will do -- if anything -- for C-Max owners who bit down hard on the promise of a comfortable hatchback that offered 47 mpg all the time.
All I know is that I feel vindicated that my failure to achieve those lofty fuel efficiency claims wasn't completely my fault.
You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at firstname.lastname@example.org.