In the latest challenge to Ford's high-mileage claims for its 2013 Fusion and C-Max hybrids, car owners in Pennsylvania have sued, saying the cars didn't come close to the 47 miles per gallon Ford advertises.
“Plaintiffs are some of the tens of thousands of consumers who purchased a Fusion Hybrid or C-Max Hybrid, only to be stuck with under-performing, less valuable vehicles that inflict higher fuel costs on their owners,” according to the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
The lawsuit echoes complaints from consumers elsewhere as well as the findings of Consumer Reports magazine.
"I thought my 2013 C-MAX would be a Prius Killer? NOT! As a returning Ford buyer I feel deceived," said Ronald of South Portland, Maine, in a posting to ConsumerAffairs in March. "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."
Just 37 mpg
Earlier, Consumer Reports tested both the C-Max and Fusion and said they both came in well short of the claimed 47 mpg fuel efficiency. The C-Max achieved 37 mpg, the Fusion 39 in the magazine's tests.
"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 in a statement.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which determines the mpg ratings, has said it is confident the 47 mpg finding is sound but has said it will review the ratings of both Ford vehicles. Ford has said that it has been talking to the EPA about the issue and that both parties agree there can be wide variation between the EPA's ratings and actual mileage achieved by consumers.
“Ford’s fuel economy labels are generated in accordance with EPA procedures and protocols,” Todd Nissen, a Ford spokesman, said in a statement to Bloomberg News.
All that aside, the lawsuit says that Ford knew or should have known that the hybrid versions of the C-Max and Fusion don’t deliver advertised fuel ratings.
The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $5 million. It accuses Ford of fraud and consumer protection violations.
Not everyone's unhappy
But not all consumers are upset with their Fords. Joel of Minneapolis told ConsumerAffairs he has been getting around 40 mpg in his 2013 Ford Fusion through the cold Minnesota winter.
"Now that the weather is warming up I know we'll see better than 50 mpg on most tanks and expect that our full-year average will be very close to the 47 mpg EPA rating," he said.
However, Joel added this word of advice: "The Fusion Hybrid gets much better gas mileage in the city than on the highway even though the EPA ratings say 47 city and 47 highway. The EPA test cycles are not realistic to how most people drive," Joel said. "We see closer to 50-55 mpg in the city when the temperature is above 40 degrees, more like 45 mpgG when it's cold, and 40-45 mpg on the highway depending on cruising speed."
Joel said he has found 65 to be a good cruising speed for the car and said he gets 45 to 50 mpg on the highway when the weather is good.
The Fusion, hybrid and otherwise, has been a big seller for Ford. It was the sixth best-selling model in the U.S. this year through March and has been selling faster than many comparable Japanese cars.