Life. With C-Max. Fuel Economy and All. Will We See Maximization for C-Max?

Sections: Fuel Economy, Infotainment, Powertrain

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Lyndon does not know it yet but I have been living with the Ford C-Max for the past month.  We had been talking about all of the potential choices I had for a vehicle, but I fell in love with the C-Max, frumpy looks and all.  I fell in love with the technology. For my daily driver, I got addicted to Ford’s infotainment system.  The infamous MyFordTouch.  I love it.  But there is a learning curve.  Once you learn it, you learn there is no other way to fly.  While y’all are inputting navigation addresses on the side of the road using an obtuse QWERTY keyboard and a tiny touchscreen, I am talking to SYNC while I am driving and naturally stating the full address.  In English.  And it understands me!  Unbelievable!

Indeed, the C-Max will not be confused with a sexy car.  But that is the beauty of being a technology automotive journalist: medusa-inspired looks do not scare us.  But packaging-wise, it fits my lifestyle perfectly.  I have to schlep about 200 pounds of equipment with me daily.  The C-Max handily allows me to haul that junk with still one rear seat left up for when the family wants to jump in.  But that stuff puts a big dent in fuel economy.  Ford estimates that every 100 pounds yields a 2% drop (but, then again, Ford has been known to be on the generous side when it comes to mileage estimates- especially when it comes to the C-Max).  Luckily my wife’s Weight Watchers routine has rubbed off onto me and I am now rolling at 130-pound fighting weight.  So that helps.  But I am getting sick of grilled salmon and string beans.

The C-Max cabin is so non-claustrophobic.  Lyndon would be very surprised at the enormous headroom for his tall frame.  My 6’6″ brother-in-law fell in love with it too.   For my 5’5″ stature (on a good day) it seems my car has a cathedral ceiling.

But back to the gorilla in the room.  Is it feasible to pull that magic 47 MPG?  In my experience, no.  My overall economy with 1000 miles on the clock is 39.5 MPG.  In July.  I am not a luddite and I run A/C.  So maybe I would be over 40 if I took my stuff out and was willing to sweat.

But that number is still extremely impressive if you look at the size of the vehicle, the packaging, and the overall performance.  Sorry I am a fanboy but the C-Max is just more gooder than a Prius when it comes to having a little fun.  Even though it is a daily driver, I still can’t turn in all of my automotive journalist credentials at the door.  I need a modicum of fun and anti-appliance.  And, for me, the infotainment is a huge part of my decision.

But those who purchased the vehicle expecting the elusive 47 are pissed.  At least give us the ability to get into the 40s without resorting to extreme hypermiling techniques.  So I got this letter from the corporate mothership yesterday:

At Ford Motor Company, it has been our goal for more than 100 years to provide customers with high-quality, dependable products.  In order to maintain these standards, Ford Motor Company is providing a no-charge Customer Satisfaction Program for your vehicle.

What is the issue?  Ford Motor Company continuously strives to deliver advanced hybrid powertrains.  An improved Powertrain Control Module calibration is now available for your vehicle.  With this calibration change, the gasoline engine will continue to start and stop automatically to provide power when it’s needed and to save fuel when it’s not, but the vehicle speed at which the engine can shut down and allow the vehicle to operate electrically has been raised from 62 MPH to 85 MPH.  The improved calibration includes other refinements that can also help to reduce fuel consumption under certain conditions. 

These enhancements offer the potential for reduced fuel consumption for many of our customers…

So, I’ll keep you posted with the results after I get the calibration.  It may take me a week just to get it because leaving the car at the dealership for a day always proves annoying.  Maybe I’ll get a cool loaner.  Stay tuned.  We’ll see if software can see maximization for Max.



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