By KBB.com Editors
As the mpg wars rage on, there is one word that typically comes to mind when shopping for a new fuel-efficient vehicle: Prius. But the 2013 Ford C-Max intends to disrupt that involuntary word association by offering eco-conscious consumers the fuel economy they expect from an efficiency leader with the driving dynamics of a conventionally-driven 5-door hatchback. Similarly, the interior layout looks, feels and operates like a traditional vehicle, while the plug-in Energi variant bridges the efficiency gap in Ford's lineup between the C-Max Hybrid and the all-electric Focus EV. In a category dominated by the Prius family of vehicles, the 2013 Ford C-Max has all the right stuff to compete head-to-head with one of the most recognized vehicle nameplates in history.
If you are on the hunt for a highly-efficient vehicle, but unwilling to sacrifice horsepower and responsive handling, the 2013 Ford C-Max provides the best balance of fuel economy and driving fun in the segment.
If mpg and price are the key criterion in your next new car, you might find the Toyota Prius' superior fuel mileage and lower starting price more appealing.
The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid constitute a new breed of fuel sippers designed to split the difference between the regular Toyota Prius and the mid-size Prius V in terms of size, price and fuel economy.
Driving Impressions When it comes to driving performance, the Ford C-Max enjoys a sizable advantage over the competition. Ford's third-generation hybrid drive system feels considerably more powerful than its Prius rivals, and...... the virtually seamless transition from gasoline engine to electric motor effectively disguises the C-Max's hybrid nature. Although the 2013 C-Max is nearly 600 pounds heavier than the Toyota Prius, winding roads are tackled with a surprising level of precision and control. Outward visibility is equally good, as the C-Max's elevated seating position provides an SUV-like view of the road ahead. Apart from its awkward location, the brake pedal has a firm, linear feel. Despite the Ford C-Max's relatively tidy dimensions, road and wind noise at highway speeds are well contained.
Since plug-in hybrid vehicles are still in a state of infancy, Ford developed a smartphone application to help C-Max Energi owners manage charge times and check battery levels, and it also provides a map of local charging stations.
ACTIVE GRILLE SHUTTERS
When vehicle speeds increase, aerodynamics go to work. By redirecting the flow of air around rather than through the grille opening at highway speeds, the Ford C-Max's active grille shutters reduce turbulent airflow and improve fuel efficiency.
Ford's newfound status as a leader in interior design and material quality is evident in the 2013 C-Max. The 5-passenger cabin is filled with attractive, soft-touch surfaces that combine to produce a remarkably upscale feel, particularly for this class of vehicle. Ergonomics are excellent, with controls that are user-friendly and easily accessible. Headroom is overly abundant in all seating positions, and rear legroom is suitable for six-footers. The cargo area offers slightly more space than the regular Prius, but significantly less than the larger Prius V.
In order to fuse aerodynamics with utility, the 2013 Ford C-Max's exterior design emphasizes function over form. While no less stylish than a Prius, the Ford C-Max features a distinctive shape that associates more closely with a multi-purpose vehicle than a hatchback. Though it shares the majority of its underpinnings with the Ford Focus, the C-Max is roughly five inches shorter in length. The C-Max's taller stature makes it easier for taller drivers to enter and exit the vehicle, while the available power liftgate incorporates a height-adjustable function to accommodate users of all sizes.
In base SE form, the 2013 Ford C-Max includes dual-zone climate control, manually-adjustable front seats, a 60/40-split rear seat, 17-inch alloy wheels and a 6-speaker audio system with basic hands-free voice recognition and a USB port for portable music players. SEL models add heated front seats, leather seating, push-button start and the MyFord Touch infotainment system with an 8-inch touch-screen display and conversational voice-recognition software. Safety equipment includes seven airbags, a full complement of electronic stability aids and Ford's SOS post-crash alert system that activates the horn and hazard lights in the event of an airbag deployment.
Features available for both SE and SEL trims include a panoramic moonroof with a power-operated sunshade, remote-start system and touch-screen navigation with customizable routes from MapQuest. SEL models offer a convenient foot-activated power liftgate that opens and closes by simply waving your foot under the rear bumper as well as an active park assist feature that makes parallel parking as simple as pressing a button. The C-Max Energi comes in one trim level and offers most of the features available for the C-Max Hybrid.
Every C-Max features a new 2.0-liter Atkinson-Cycle 4-cylinder engine, a gearless continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and a 35-kW electric motor to produce a combined 188 horsepower. The Energi boasts a larger version of the Hybrid's lithium-ion battery pack for an all-electric range of approximately 20 miles. And, unlike the Toyota Prius, the C-Max Hybrid can travel up to 62 mph under full electricity.
2.0-liter inline-4 hybrid
188 net hybrid system horsepower
129 lb-ft of engine torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA City/highway fuel economy: 47/47 mpg (Hybrid), NA/NA mpg (Energi)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid SE starts just under $26,000, with the range-topping SEL trim tacking an additional $3,000 to the bottom line. Energi plug-in hybrid models begin closer to $34,000, but are eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $3,750, depending on the state of purchase. Prices for the Toyota Prius and larger Prius v start in the neighborhood of $25,000 and $27,000, respectively. Because federal tax credits for plug-in hybrids are based on the size of a vehicle's battery pack, the Prius plug-in qualifies for a smaller $2,500 tax credit, which brings the starting price to just over $30,000. Before heading to the dealership, be sure to check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the 2013 Ford C-Max. We expect the new C-Max to retain higher than average resale values over a 5-year period, with residuals that fall just shy of those held by the popular Toyota Prius.
By ghost252 on Thursday, May 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great tech, good price, virually no gas used!"
Cons: "never stop at a gas station i go thristy alot now"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"love this vehicle, i am currently getting 171 MPG i am going to start calculating my Miles per Month instead of miles per gallon, i am on track to need a new tank of gas some time near christmas! I purchased in March 2014"
1 person out of 4 found this review helpful
By rural commuter on Friday, March 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, enviroment friendly, save $$/time"
Cons: "less electric miles when extreme cold, open wheels"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Had for 8 months & daily commute 18miles on hilly,gravel roads in midwest,extreme cold limits the only electric miles to 15-17,but handles well in snow and slick mud.I got full commute on electric until Nov,use of heater reduces electric miles.Bought it for work but can go anywhere with gas.Longer trips got 36-43mpg--cruise improves mileage.Only have filled with gas 3 times-for longer trips,otherwise just electric, full charge in 6hrs. Handles great,lots of bells and whistles,serviced only once-routine,CON-open wheels catch gravel&mud. I can't wait until the solar panel version is out, then I would rate it a 9.9!"
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By bigal on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great handling, quite, fun to drive"
Cons: "Repair problem, diminished rear storage Li battery"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"On 6 different occasions the car could not be started and was serviced. On at least 3 times the 12V battery had to be replaced. On consultation with Ford Technicians, various components were replaced, the software was upgraded and the most recent time the service department found no faults. There appears to be some TSB's related to this problem. Fortunately, in NJ there is a lemon law to protect the buyer. However, I am in negotiation to replace the one year old vehicle without going to the NJ Lemon Law course. This problem aside, we found the CMAX Energi to be a very solid and worthwhile driving experience. With charging of the Li battery, our overall economy has been 46 mpg. Unlike other hybrids, it can run in electric motor only mode up to 55-60 mph and it runs very well in standard hybrid mode. The Ackerson cycle gasoline engine requires an effective electric motor to produce a favorable acceleration."
2 people out of 6 found this review helpful