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)
By Maxi on Sunday, January 18, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,650overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "$1112 elect/gas in 19 months vs $2200 @ 3.67/gal"
Cons: "Rear storage could be better, but there's the batt"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We traded our 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid for this 2013 Ford C-Max Energi, the Ford's first plug-in hybrid. After 46 years of driving experience, this is hands down the best vehicle ever! On average, it is driven between 28 and 50 miles per day. At 10¢ per KWh for electricity, it costs about 88¢ to fully charge. Despite some initial recalls, all related to the computer systems on board that control the hybrid system, it has been a flawless friend. With its intelligent oil monitoring system, we have yet to change oil at 18,600 miles. Since the engine runs so infrequently the car tells you when the oil needs changing. Winter driving in snow and ice is "no worry" due the the excellent, intelligent traction control system. Never a worry with Michelin X-Ice tires. Summer e-mileage with AC averages 17 to 20 miles per charge. Winter e-mileage with heat averages 13 to 17 miles per charge. Summer or winter, with no heat or AC, e-mileage averages 21 to 27. We have become very familiar with the build-in "brake coach," that taught us how to get our 98% energy return every time we brake. Though it looks small from the outside, its interior area is identical to our 2006 Escape hybrid. Check the figures - that is true. All-in-all, the best vehicle we have ever owned!"
9 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By Steve on Thursday, January 01, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, lots of pep."
Cons: "Recalls, Laughable turning radius."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Nice entry into the plug in hybrid market. Despite several recalls and minor quality issues, I consider it one of the most enjoyable cars I've owned. Downside is residual value... it plummets quickly!"
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Concrete Davey on Friday, December 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great visibility, MPG and comfort."
Cons: "limited storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Recently leased this car. 600 miles in and still have 1/2 tank of gas. Fun and easy to drive. Great visibility. traded in my 2013 Escape which has a much smaller windshield and much lower MPG. Winter in Maine charging with 110v cord 6 hrs to charge gets 13-15 EV only miles. Hope it will get closer to the advertised 20 miles EV in warmer weather. $9000 in rebates really lowered price below other hybrids/plug-ins. Interior is very roomy. Trunk space very small. This may be an issue for summer beach going, Might have to get a roof rack."
8 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By doodlefolks on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "EV only mode, Size, Build quality, Rear power door"
Cons: "Turning radius"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've had this car for about 6 months now and I am still very happy with the purchase. I have about an 8 mile commute to work so I am able to get there and back home without ever using gas. Even in the winter when the battery doesn't last as long, I still have about 5 miles of range when I get home. I keep it plugged in all the time and have seen my bills go about by about $20-30 a month, but that is much less than I was paying for gas. When it is running on gas I get 35-45 mpg depending on how conservative I'm driving. The biggest negative for me on this car is the turn radius. I've found multiple times that I've had to make a 3 point turn when I usually wouldn't with a car that size. Having said that, this is not enough to discredit an otherwise excellent car."
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Paminator on Sunday, December 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,200overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Cons: "electric not worth it -- overrated by FORD"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"This car is not at all what it is advertised to be. The Energi is not worth the money you pay for it. it is advertised to drive 20 miles on electric and after 6 weeks we can only drive 10 miles --- not worth the extra paid to get and energy -- the battery takes up a lot of space in the back of the car and is heavy so the mileage is only about 32-33 when driving with gas only. We do not like the car and we really want something different. My local ford dealer has not delivered the service information we would expect regarding this car so I had to notify the Ford Corporate company to help with the issues we have with the car. If you want to buy an electric car == DON'T BUY THIS CAR"
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Cameo on Sunday, November 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun comfotable, a treasure of added toys."
Cons: "I can't think of anything I don't like."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Best car ever! Easy to drive, handle and maneuver. I traded in my 1 ton Diesel as we were making life changes and bought this Gem of a car, the Ford C-Max energy. Heated seats, full view all around, back up visual, new navigation system for us oldsters pretty easy actually if you just start using it daily. Goes on all our short trips on elect. Hubby is 6'1 and can easily have all leg room he needs front or back. Power & handle ability is awesome. It's the only car we've ever "named". We call her, "SPARKY"! Just cannot say enough good about this wonderful auto."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful