Ford has gotten a lot of flak lately for its new lineup of hybrid models because many owners and numerous automotive publications have alleged the vehicles do not live up to their lofty EPA fuel economy estimates. Some owners have even sued the company because of the apparently inflated estimates.
After defending the estimates for months, Ford has finally given in to the criticism and will offer owners of the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, and 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid models a chance to perform a voluntary software upgrade that aims to improve the on-road fuel economy of these vehicles.
These software updates focus on three areas of fuel economy improvement: highway driving, short trips, and climate control use. The maximum pure electric speed is increased from 62mph to 85mph to allow for greater use of electric-only mode on the highway. Active grille shutters, which reduce aerodynamic drag, are optimized to better function in conditions like cold weather and when the air conditioner is running. Engine warm-up time is reduced by 50 percent, meaning that electric-only mode can be activated sooner after a cold startup. The climate control system will also use less energy in cold weather now due to minimized usage of the air conditioning compressor.
Ford says current owners of these models will receive a letter offering the voluntary free upgrade at their Ford dealer, and any of these models sold from here on out will have already received the update.
Ford still maintains that fuel economy may vary in the real world, but says the updates should provide noticeable improvement in these three areas. The software updates will not affect the EPA estimates, which remain at 47/47/47mpg city/highway/combined for the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, and 45/45/45mpg city/highway/combined for the 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.