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 eaglenws (AZ) on Sunday, April 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,300overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roomy, Comfortable"
Cons: "It continues to have more problems all the time!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Just when I thought my ford C-Max couldn't frustrate me any more....today the tailgate decided that it didn't want to latch itself. I need to give it a good hard MANUAL close for it to latch."
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Sam (OH) on Friday, April 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, fun to drive, storage capacity."
Cons: "Microsoft MySync."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I picked the car up new and very shortly drove from OH to AZ for a 2 month stay. Jammed to the back of the seats, it drove and handled well and got excellent mileage. Test drove Prius and Prius V first then C Max. Both Toyota's, especially the V, lacked power. I felt the V fully loaded would be way too slow getting onto expressways. The C Max is fun to drive and attracts attention (ours is ruby red). Consumer Reports complained that the regenernative braking is touchy. Maybe at first but once acclimated muscle memory takes over and there is no problem, at least for me. I now drive for mpg and 100% regen. braking. My only complaint, mild at that, is the Ford Sync by Microsoft. I wouldn't let MS near my car or anything else. I'm sure by now Ford has learned it's lesson."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Petsitter (VA) on Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great mpg, sits higher than Prius"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Im getting 48 mpg in mixed driving, town, country roads and highway. Very comfortable interior. Im 5'3" so really appreciate the telescoping steering wheel and adjustable height seat. 6 ft friend had lots of leg room and head room. Definitely recommend this car. And love the fact that it is an American car."
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Drakkendark (CA) on Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good fuel economy. Big front window. 4 outputs."
Cons: "Poor headrest placement blocks vision"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The car is awesome. I would not say that it gets 47 mpg, especially in LA where there is alort of stop and go traffic and hills and valleys. If you drive slower up hill and stay in the right lane then you save mpg. If you are willing to drive more slowly in general, then you save mpg. If you are willing to accelerate slowly, then you save more mpg. This car has taught me to drive more responsibly. I am down to three tanks of gas or so a month. With the ford focus I used to own it was five to six. After all is said and done with the higher payment, I am spending about $50 more per month and helping the environment. It is a shame that there are no more tax rebates for hybrids now that I could actually afford one. there also seem to be no more rebates for buying a car or a new car. This is lame. Just my luck. On the bright side, I have a nice new car with a huge front window to enjoy the sites while I drive."
10 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By cabbiegrandma (OH) on Wednesday, April 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 300overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sits up higher than most cars, nice conveniences."
Cons: "no opening sun-roof option,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I was driving a Prius lease for the past 3 years. Loved the fuel economy on it, but wanted something fuel efficient, something that sat up a little higher than the Prius (although that wasn't bad), and a little more comfortable on our frequent trips. The Prius V looked like a station wagon to me, and really didn't sit up any higher, just had a larger cargo area. Not what we wanted. Although we are still in the "break-in" period, because we were used to driving a hybrid, we are averaging 40mpg so far. Considering it is still cold out (where is early Spring anyway?), we were only getting about 43mpg on the Prius in winter because of winter fuel and heating the engine. That said, we are happy with the mileage so far, as this IS a heavier vehicle, and I LOVE the SUV look of this car. It sits up high enough that I can look eye-to-eye with most SUV's which is great!"
10 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By SG (CA) on Tuesday, March 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "RELIABLE. SMOOTH"
Cons: "MPG NOT WHAT STATES ON STICKER"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I purchased my 2013 ford cmax hybrid sel with all the bells and whistles right off the show room floor at the end of October. I was pitched by all the sales guys and seen commercials pitching that it gets 47 mg combined. even said on the sticker. I bought the vehicle and I am very meticulous about my mpg. This is the sole reason I bought this vehicle. I drive a lot. I have now put 21,000 miles on it. It has been reliable and has no problems and overall a great driving experience. Here my problem. After the first hundred miles of driving I was only getting 36 mpg.I immediately called the dealer and asked them why it wasn't getting 47mpg as on the sticker. They didn't know and said they would research it for me. So, after I er waiting a few days. They call me and tell me the "THE HEAVY DUTY BREAK IN OIL IS CAUSING THE VEHICLE TO GET LESS MPG. YOU HAVE TO WAIT TILL YOUR 10,000 MILE SERVICE TO RECEIVE THE FULL BENEFITS OF YOUR VEHICLES MPG". I thought this was ridiculous but I had to believe them. I kept in touch with the sales rep from the dealership and it continued 36 mpg. Mind you that is 11 miles less then the sticker. so, at 9,980 miles on the car I went and got my 10,000 mile service. They changed the oil and all the other things they do during that kind of service. When I leave they tell me" YOU SHOULD SEE A HUGE IMPROVEMENT IN MPG NOW". I had to drive another 250 miles that day. I reset the trip 1 just to accurately check the mpg from that day. And after my day. MY MPG WENT DOWN to 31 mpg. I couldn't believe it. I called the dealership and complained. Feeling I have been lied too multiple times just to get a sale of the most expensive version of this car they had on the showroom floor. The dealership then told me they would call me back . A few days later they again tell me. but now the full breakin period for my vehicle is 20,000 miles. Now I know they are lieing. Because you know what. AFTER 21000 MILES I ONLY AVG. 35.6 MPG. HOPE THIS HELPS ."
28 people out of 31 found this review helpful