Ford’s C-Max Hybrid is Ford’s answer to Toyota’s popular Prius Hybrid. While it may not have the extraordinary mileage ratings of the latter, the C-Max mini wagon has a stylish exterior and interior while offering some utility, impressive mileage ratings and is fun to drive. Something that can’t be said about some of its rivals.
C-Max uses the same hybrid powertrain as Ford’s midsize Fusion Hybrid, so it’s not a new, unproven powertrain. Its 2.0L Atkinson Cycle I-4 cylinder generates 141-hp and 129 lb/ft of torque. When mated to a lithium-ion battery pack that drives an electric motor, the total power rating produces 188-hp. The combination sends power to a CVT transmission that transfers power to the wheels for a zero to 60 time of 8.1 seconds. Checking a similar Prius time, the C-Max is a tad quicker.
Operationally, the gasoline engine kicks in when the battery pack is depleted but the transition is subtle. On the highway, you’d never know it was a hybrid as it drives like a conventional vehicle. If you crave more efficiency, the C-Max is also available as C-Max Energi, which is a plug-in hybrid.
This five-passenger, four-door front drive hatchback/wagon is offered in two trim levels of SE and SEL that was tested. The difference between them is the latter has more content such as power liftgate, nav system, automatic wipers, heated outside mirrors, heated seats and more. Most of this is included in one of three equipment groups of 301A, 302A and 303A, the latter was a $3,000 option on the test car. The group, as said, includes such goodies as the power gate, rearview camera, keyless entry, parking technology package, active park assist and more. Such niceties as tire pressure monitoring, fog lamps, leather seats and others are included in the base price. While rear-parking sensors are optional on both trims, the SEL can be optioned with front parking sensors as well.
The C-Max Hybrid also uses regenerative braking, has Sync with MyFord Touch infotainment system and a tire mobility kit in place of a spare tire. Some C-Max owners have complained about this as they say by the time it takes AAA or others to respond to fix a flat, they could have changed a tire and been on their way, even if it was a space saver tire.
As for the interior, it’s modern and chuck full of luxury amenities. Its leather seats have contrasting stitching, there’s a large 8-inch display screen, a single gauge for speed (as a tach is not needed) and the gauge is flanked by two driver information displays, for various operational messages. One particular nicety was the high mounted driver’s seat that provides a nice expansive view, similar to a high-stanced SUV.
The jury is still out though on the controversial MyFord Touch infotainment system. It’s not exactly easy to operate while driving. HVAC controls are, however, easy to operate and are straight albeit mounted low and behind the gearshift lever.
Rear seat legroom is ample as is headroom. But if a tall driver racks his seat well rearward, the passenger behind him may get leg cramps.
Cargo space is rated at 24.5 cubic feet with the 60/40 rear seats upright. Flip them and there’s 52.6 cubic feet. More meaningful, the area measures 31 inches deep, 40 wide and 28.75 high. Flip the seats and depth extends to 62 inches. Below the cargo floor is where the battery pack resides so cargo depth suffers a bit.
The ride on 17-inch Michelin tires is not Fusion soft but provides good road feel. It’s also quiet running. Its electric power steering makes C-Max easy to park but its turning radius is not especially tight for a small car.
Aside from the aforementioned equipment group option, the base price of $27,170 only increases with a delivery of $825, for a bottom line of $30,995. To its credit, C-Max received a four out of five star government safety rating for an overall safety score; four for driver/passenger frontal crash; and five for front/rear seat side crash.