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 seatwarmer on Thursday, October 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "MPG, if driven like grandma"
Cons: "Too many to list here."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Most cars nowadays are going with the "electronic key" instead of a physical metal key. There are so many flaws in this, I don't know where to begin. The only positive statement I can make about this car is it is decent on MPG's. If you drive like grandma, you can achieve a great MPG, but for the normal driver, high 20's to lower 30's is to be expected. With the FOB, I can never tell if the car is locked or not. There are no physical indicators, ie a knob which is either up or down which can be clearly seen through the window, except for a hard to find, barely visible LED on the dash. For a mechanical test to make sure the door is locked, the door opens every time, cause the FOB is with me. The car does have a little bit of power, however, driving this car is like driving the "hound dog" on the porch whose "get up n go" is done gone.In my over 2 decades of driving, the only thing I have ever had to do with the brake is to "stop" and later on, to shift out of park. Having to "brake" just to start the dumb thing is totally unacceptable! To my hearing, the cell phone "blue tooth" wireless thing is muffled where I can only hear ever so many words. I realize my hearing is not the best, but this is totally awful! Even though I just bought this hunk of junk, I'm looking for a fast turnaround to get rid of this thing as fast as I can."
8 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By VACMAX on Thursday, October 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,900overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "good mpg, fun to drive, hybrid monitoring tools,"
Cons: "ford sync"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After months of indecision, I bought a C-Max in July 2013 and have not had any regrets. I've had no battery problems, no major sync problems and my mileage currently averages 43 mpg (& still increasing). I love the car's pickup on the highway - I have no problems keeping up with traffic on the interstate or passing when necessary. This is a fun car to drive! Plus, the SEL is very comfortable - I don't feel I sacrificed creature comfort to buy a hybrid. I would buy this car again in an instant. In fact, I'm thinking of taking up my dealer's offer of trading it in for a 2014 model (although I love the blue candy color & they don't have a 2014 in that color)."
10 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Unhappy on Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive."
Cons: "Gas mileage not as advertised."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Those of you that are getting the great gas mileage must drive downhill wherever you go! There is a reason why Ford has refunded C-Max owners some money twice in the past year. We have owned this car for a year and a half and it has been in the shop more than on the road. Ford has reprogrammed the computer several times which they tried to charge me for even after admitting that it doesn't get the gas mileage that it is supposed to. We get 37 on the highway and 34 around town as long as you don't turn on the A/C if you do the gas mileage drops considerably- 32-34mpg. We tried to trade it in but,it is worth about $3,000 less than we owe on it after paying it down about $10K."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Davo on Tuesday, October 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Like most C-Max buyers, I test drove a few Prius's and was not impressed by the lack of power - not an issue with this car. I have had this C-Max for 2 years now and am very happy. I can be a very fast driver at times, especially on the freeways, yet still achieve over 40 mpg. Only a few issues. The power hatch needed many adjustments to properly close, but is ok now. The AC unit failed on a long trip in AZ, but Ford fixed the problem. The software update improved the electric motor's ability to run the car at 60 mph, very impressive. My only complaint is that the seats are a little too firm, noticeable on long trips."
11 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Troglodyte on Friday, September 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "MPG, Ride, Fit and Finsh, Features"
Cons: "Tire noise on rough roads"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"First I like to note that I have never bought a Ford before, always GM or Chrysler, but this car blew me away! I've owned this car for about a year and just cant believe what a neat car it is, I got one that had all the bells and whistles and Ford just did a great job putting this car together. When it gets very cold I get around 43 mpg, but when its warmer, over 50 degrees, I been getting from 47 to 52 mpg and I'm very pleased. I was told to expect 43 and some reviews Consumer Reports for one (which I learned a long time ago was not all together trustworthy) say they couldn't get better than 37? Well beyond that great mpg, its also a just a great car, it has the C-Max body (from a Ford car marketed in Europe for a number of years), focus chaise, and fusion hybrid engine system. It has on board blue tooth, and a computer voice command system that's not bad at all (bit of a learning curve). Great Sun Roof, and super back up camera and front/back beeping sensors (it even parallel parks itself). The breaks are bit jerky at first, but once you learn to light foot them, they are just fine. The hybrid system is near flawless, you can't feel the gas motor cutting in and cutting out, sometimes on a steep hill you can hear it, but don't feel it. Most of the time the only sound I hear is the road noise from the hybrid tires, not bad on good roads but can get noise on rough or gravel roads. Talked to a Ford mechanic about this car and he said they had the least amount of trouble out of this drive system than of any car they service. Oh and just a note, I came out of a Cadillac Deville and this is a lot smaller on the outside and much more nimble, but has the fit and finish of the Cadillac and on good roads as good a ride. That's saying a lot form a $25k car going up against a $45k car. Well good luck and good hunting, this is a nice, neat, and well organized car."
17 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By Tony on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great gas mileage, quiet smooth ride"
Cons: "No spare tire,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My wife and I love driving the C-max. Lots of room diver and passenger seat and quiet ride. All the option was easy to learn and use. The only three negatives: 1. For a compact car the turning ratio is large( K or U turns, tight spaces)2. No spare tire. 3.Glass on rear door does not open( had to open door to put small packages in)."
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful