Could the EPA's battle with Hyundai turn to Ford's hybrids next?

Ford is touting impressive fuel economy figures for its latest generation of hybrids, but owners are reporting a different story altogether.

Consumer Reports found that Ford C-Max Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid owners are claiming significantly lower than posted fuel economy on the EPA's fueleconomy.gov website. Fourteen C-Max Hybrid owners reported an average of 40.5 mpg, while five 2013 Fusion Hybrid owners claimed just 37 mpg. Those figures are afar cry from the 47 mpg combined Ford estimates on the cars' window stickers.

In addition, the independent magazine says that its own C-Max, which it acquired directly from a dealer, averages between 33 and 39 mpg. CR says that it hasn't had its Fusion Hybrid long enough to draw any real conclusions, but it did note that one driver's "long commute" returned 40 mpg. Similarly, Fox News said that "light-footed" driving returned no more than 40 mpg in a Fusion Hybrid.

Leftlane's extended test of a Fusion Hybrid netted a similarly disappointing 35.8 mpg in "normal" driving over the course of about 450 miles. We have not had the opportunity to measure fuel economy in a C-Max Hybrid.

Ford isn't alone in not meeting fuel economy claims during reviewer​ testing, but the automaker's lofty and heavily-advertised 47 mpg figure makes it an easy target for disgruntled consumers.

With its case against Hyundai serving as precedent, the EPA is expected to begin examining owners' fuel economy claims against other automakers. The EPA told Hyundai to restate its advertised fuel economy figures and the automaker is spending about $100 million to reimburse buyers based on the number of miles they've traveled in their vehicles.

Will Ford be forced to follow suit? It's hard to say for sure, but it's likely that Hyundai will be the first of several dominoes to fall as the EPA begins to more closely scrutinize advertised fuel economy.