What it is: The C-Max, Ford’s new compact MPV, debuted last fall as the brand’s first hybrid-only line of vehicles. In short what the Prius is to Toyota the C-MAX is to Ford.
Interesting Fact: The C-MAX has been around since 2003 for the European market although the first generation was available in New Zealand. With the introduction of the new large MPVs S-Max and Galaxy, the C-Max is the second smallest multi-purpose vehicle of Ford’s global lineup, after the new B-Max.
In hopes in capturing a lot of the Toyota Prius’ thunder the new for 2013 C-Max MPV becomes Ford’s first hybrid-only line of vehicles. The C-Max is built off of Ford’s new Global C platform, which has spawned models such as the Mazda3 and Mazda5, and Volvo S30, V40, and V50. Styling for the C-Max, which is part of Ford’s ‘Kinetic Design’ design language, was inspired by the Iosis Max concept, first shown at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show.
The C-Max fills the void left by the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrid models. Ford discontinued the Escape Hybrid with the introduction of the redesigned the 2013 model with its thrifty EcoBoost engines. The Mariner disappeared after the Mercury brand was discontinued during the 2011 model year.
What Ford refers to as a MAV (Multiple Active Vehicle), the C-Max complements the brand’s other hybrid models, which includes the Fusion Hybrid and Energi models, along with the Focus Electric. Ford’s 8,481 hybrid sales in April accounted for 18% of the non-plug-in segment, up from 3% a year ago when Ford was selling its last Escape hybrid. Ford has been selling hybrids since 2004.
The C-Max itself is not new to Ford’s catalog, having been around a decade for the European market. However for the North American market, the C-Max comes exclusively as a pure hybrid and PHEV plug-in.
The first generation model (2003–2007) was called the Ford Focus C-Max. A facelifted version of the (gasoline-only) Focus C-Max debuted at the 2006 Bologna Motor Show with European sales starting the following spring. The name change to C-Max is attributable to Ford’s MPV strategy of creating a ‘Max’ branded line of MPVs, starting with the Ford S-Max, launched in 2006. The C-Max hybrid debuted in selected markets last September with the Energi following suit a month later. Both models became available globally this past spring.
The facelift of the 2007 model brought the car in line with Ford’s ‘Kinetic Design’ design language, which follows suit with the current Fiesta and Focus. Styling nuances are evident through the C-Max’s twin trapezoidal grille, large wheel arches and angular headlights. However, as the bodyshell was not originally designed for ‘Kinetic Design,’ Ford acknowledges that the C-Max contains only ‘elements’ of the design language.
The C-Max Hybrid offers a maximum cargo volume of 66.0 cu ft with rear seats folded flat, and 32.4 cu ft. in the cargo area with rear seats up, providing more room than the Prius. However the downside is that the Energi loses a couple of cubes of volume, in addition to loss of a flat loading floor due to the size and location of the its battery pack, which is located at the rear of the cargo area.
Similar to the Prius the C-Max is offered as either a pure hybrid or energy plug-in (PHEV). But where the Prius is available in the iconic liftback or wagon-like Prius v, the C-Max is only available in a single MPV bodystyle. From there the C-max Hybrid is offered in either SE or SEL trim levels, while the Energi is trimmed as the higher SEL only. So in essence the privilege of running on pure electric for an estimated 21 miles results in a $4,980 premium over the C-Max Hybrid SEL. Another negative of Hybrid vs Rnergi is 43 mpg vs 47 mpg due to the extra weight of the battery.
The C-Max featured for this test review is the Energi model which came in am optional ($395) Blue Candy Metallic Clear Coat with Charcoal black leather interior. Although our tester did not have pricing listed on its monroney the Energi starts at a base MSRP of $33,345. The 302A Equipment Group ($2,015) was the only option listed, giving it an as-tested price of $36,155 (including $795 designation charges) before equipment group discounts.
The standard equipment group for the Energi is notated as 300A, which includes leather appointment with 10-way power drivers’ seat, dual zone electric automatic climate control, blind spot mirrors, MyFord Touch, and 17-inch machined aluminum wheels. The next level up is the 302A Premium Audio and Navigation package which includes a 9-speaker HD Sony Sound System with iTunes tagging, voice activated navigation with integrated Sirius XM Satellite Traffic and Sirius XM Satellite Travel. The 302A package includes a hands free power liftgate and rearview backup camera. The 303A package includes active park assist and a front sensing system.
A pleasant surprise was finding that the C-Max was the only other vehicle in Ford’s current lineup that offers its class-exclusive, foot-activated liftgate, the other being the Escape Titanium. This novel feature eliminates the hassles of opening the liftgate while carrying packages or groceries by a gentle doing a kicking motion underneath the bumper while the Intelligent Access key fob stays tucked away. Sensors in the bumper detect the motion, triggering the liftgate to automatically open. The same action triggers it to close. But standing too close, where the liftgate would be within striking distance, causes the operation to avoid functioning.
An available option not featured on our test vehicle was a panoramic fixed roof ($1,195). Sunroofs are a rare commodity for hybrid vehicles, and although the C-Max’s unit is not operable it at least lets valuble sunshine in.
Ford developed the C-Max Hybrid internally to become the most affordable hybrid utility vehicle. Base pricing for the C-Max Hybrid begins at $25,995, including destination and delivery. The C-Max Energi starts at $32,995, including destination and delivery.
To keep costs in check production takes place at Ford’s Wayne, Michigan plant, where the C-Max is assembled alongside the Focus and Ford Focus Electric. All non-hybrid models are built in Valencia, Spain.
Both C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi share an advanced powertrain which includes a 2.0L I-4 HEV Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine with an electric motor to generate 188 total system horsepower.
Powering the C-Max Energi is a standard 2-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine mated to CVT transmission and an electric motor powered by a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack for total power output of 188-bhp. The lithium-ion battery pack is smaller and lighter than nickel metal hydride batteries used in previous Ford generation hybrids.
The electric drivetrain is capable of producing a peak power of 68 kW, and is limited by the size of the electric motor and the power delivery capability of the battery pack, delivering a total system power of 195-hp (150 kW) in charge-depleting mode (EV mode). The battery is covered by an eight years or 100,000 miles component warranty.
Theoretically, in hybrid mode the C-Max Energi is capable of a 115 mph top end. I had no issues obtaining 90 mph, and felt anything above was itching for a citation. Nevertheless the C-Max Energi felt that it was capable of cruising at that and higher speeds all day long.
Like all hybrids the C-Max Energi uses a regenerative braking system capable of capturing and reusing more than 95% of the braking energy normally lost during the braking process. The charging time for the C-Max Energi takes 7 hours with a 120 volt charger, and 2.5 hours with a 240 volt charger. The charge port has a LED light ring like the Ford Focus Electric and is located on the driver’s side and near the front of the car. The light ring illuminates to indicate charge status.
One of the nuisance things to get use to is that every time the C-Max Energi is started, it automatically defaults to the all-electric mode. However, by engaging a switch, located on the center stack, allows operation between three different drive modes: electric-only without gasoline engine power (“EV Now” setting); normal hybrid modewhere the powertrain blends electric and gasoline engine power as appropriate (“EV Auto” setting); or a battery-saving mode that reserves the battery power for later use (“EV Later” setting).
Similar to the Ford Fusion Hybrid/Energi, the C-Max Energi comes with a SmartGauge with EcoGuide that provides in-vehicle customizable displays, including instantaneous fuel economy readings and coaching functions to help drivers understand and optimize their fuel efficiency. It also features ECO Cruise which saves energy by relaxing acceleration compared to standard cruise control.
The C-Max Energi was designed to deliver best-in-class miles per gallon equivalent (MPG-e) in all-electric mode, more than the Toyota Prius Plug-in. The C-Max Energi is EPA rated in all-electric mode at 100 MPG-e, and 108 MPG-e for city driving and 92 MPG-e in highway. It’s combined rating is 5 MPG-e better than the Toyota Prius Plug-in, and 2 MPG-e better than the Chevrolet Volt, allowing the C-Max Energi to become America’s most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid in all-electric mode. EPA rating for the C-Max Energi in hybrid-gasoline mode is a respectable 43 mpg, 4 mpg less than the C-Max Hybrid, mainly due to the 200 pounds extra weight for the battery pack.
The C-Max Energi is rated for an all-electric range of 21 miles, for a total EPA certified range of 620 miles, surpassing both the Chevrolet Volt (380 miles), and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid (540 miles). The overall combined gasoline-electricity fuel economy rating for the 2013 model year C-Max Energy is 58 mpg equivalent, the same rating as the Prius PHEV and the Ford Fusion Energi, making all three PHEVs the most fuel efficient cars in EPA’s midsize class.
As for accolades and recognition, the Ford C-Max Hybrid and the Energi were among the five finalists for the 2013 Green Car of the Year awarded by the Green Car Journal at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. The C-Max Energi was awarded the 2012 Green Car Vision Award by the Green Car Journal at the 2012 Washington Auto Show.
2013 Ford C-Max Energi
VEHICLE TYPE: Compact 5-door/5-Pass. PHEV Plug-in hybrid
Blue Candy Metallic / Black
OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
303A Package – $2,495
Blue Candy Metallic – $395
Total Options: – $2,890
Options: 303A package including premium audio and navigation, hands-free technology, power liftgate, rear view camera, keyless entry with tailgate access, parking technology package, automatic parking system
DESIREABLE OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
Panoramic Fixed Roof – $1,195
PRICE AS TESTED: $36,000* (includes $750 Designation Charge)
ASSEMBLY: Wayne, MI
BODY CONSTRUCTION: Unibody
POWETRAIN: 2.0-liter I4 hybrid 141 hp @ 6,000 rpm (188 hp net system output), 129 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed shiftable automatic
WHEELS / TIRES: 17″ machined aluminum wheels with P225/50R17 tires
FUEL ECONOMY (EPA): 44 city/41 hwy/43 combined MPG (gasoline mode only), 108 city/92 hwy/100 combined MPGe
FUEL CAPACITY: 14.0-gallon (Energi), 13.5-gallon (Hybrid)
RECOMMENDED FUEL TYPE: regular unleaded
CURB WEIGHT: 3,899 lb
Wheelbase / Length (inches): 100.6 inches / 173.6 inches
Passenger Volume: 104.2 cubic feet
Legroom (front/rear): 45.8/40.0 in
Headroom (front/rear): 40.1/37.8 in
Cargo: 32.4/66.0 cu. ft. (rear seats upright/seats folded down) Hybrid; 32.0/64.7 cu. ft. (rear seats upright/seats folded down) Energi;
3-year/36,000-mile basic New Vehicle Limited Warranty
6 years/70,000-miles Roadside Assistance
Toyota EV, Toyota Prius v, Chevrolet Volt