Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hybrid Gas Mileage and the Ford CMax

In December we reached the point where my Aveo was becoming a serious money pit, and we knew we needed a new car.  I love my Aveo, and we actually kept it just as an extra little commuter car - it has over 207,000 miles on it, so we weren't going to get anything from trading it in, and it's worth it to have an extra car to run errands in so we aren't so dependent on matching up schedules.  If I'm out and J wants to run down the hill to get something, he can do so without it costing him $20 in gas, like it does in the Jeep.

Anyway, we picked the 2013 Ford Cmax Hybrid. Not just because of the gas mileage, though that was part of it.  Mostly because I really fell in love with it.  If a car designer was going to design the perfect car for Heather, he'd make this car.  I love how high you sit.  I love the intuitiveness of the commands.  I love where everything fits.  I love how spacious it is while still being a smaller car.  Basically, I just love this car.

But the gas mileage was definitely part of the decision.  We live on the top of a 5,000 foot mountain, and our nearest Target is a 25 mile drive, down the hill (and then back up).  My office is 54 miles (which is why I work from home most of the time).  Just going to the office once or twice a week, and one day spent running errands, we easily rack up 300-400 miles a week.  So I wasn't even going to consider anything that got less than 35mpg.  My Aveo got 34 regularly, and it was old.  I expected at least 35 or even 40.

The CMax advertises 47mpg.  We never expected to get that, because of the aforementioned 5,000 foot hill we drive up regularly.  Plus, even the local roads are hilly and twisty, with a lot of breaking and accelerating.   We get the car, I'm in car-love, life is good.

Then I start reading about lawsuits that Ford is receiving, saying that people are getting way lower than the 47mpg.  Then Consumer Reports releases a study saying that they got 10mpg lower than the advertised mpg, and Forbes reports that it's a great car that still got slammed anyway.

I start wondering whether maybe we did the wrong thing.  Don't get me wrong, I still love the car, and it was always about more than just the gas mileage, but I'm just hoping that we still get more than 35.  If these people who don't live on mountains are only getting 37, then what hope is there for us?

Ok, here's all I can say.  I don't know how they drive, or what their problems are, but our lifetime average over close to 6,000 miles so far is a respectable 40.2mpg.  

How are these people driving?  Are they slamming on the gas and the break and the gas and the break?  Do they go 0-60 in 4 seconds?  I drive up a freaking mountain every time I go anywhere, and I'm still beating them.  What the hell?

My commute consists mostly of the drive down the mountain (where I gain lots of mileage), then straight freeway driving.  The one thing I notice about all the reports is that they say they keep their cruise control on at 70mph - well, the battery stops working at 62mph, so at 70 you're on all gas, not battery.  So it's not surprising that they're not getting good gas mileage.  I keep my cruise control set at 60 (yeah, I drive in the slow lane, but I get through lots of audiobooks and I only cost myself like 10 minutes vs going 75 in my 54 mile commute).  When I drive to my office, my gas mileage regularly is 75mpg for that trip.  When I drive back, and make stops along the way (so not going back up the mountain, and just having gas mileage from the freeway, and surface streets to the places I'm stopping), I regularly average about 55mpg.  Last night I stopped at the grocery store almost at the bottom of the mountain.  I had about 15 miles of straight freeway/surface street driving before the 12 (20 minute) climb back up the hill, and during that trip, I still averaged 34.8mpg.

In short, I have no idea what those people's problems are.  I don't know how I manage to get better gas mileage while driving up a 5000 foot mountain, but I must be really gentle on the accelerator or something, or those people have lead feet.  Well, I do know what they're doing - they're driving too fast for the battery to kick in.

If you get a CMax and expect to drive fast and still get great gas mileage, I'm sorry, you won't.  But if you keep it below 62 or thereabouts, you will get absolutely fine gas mileage.  I'm not an expert on hybrids or cars or anything like that - I just had to write all this because I'm sick of seeing the CMax being ripped up by automotive blogs as being a rip-off.  I'm thrilled with ours.

2 comments:

Christy Nicholson said...

I wish Ford had decided to sell the 3-row CMax hybrid in the U.S. We needed some extra passenger space but didn't want a full SUV or minivan. We went with a Mazda 5, but I would have loved to buy a hybrid!

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