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 Richard on Wednesday, March 18, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,050overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Just bought a brand new (leftover) 2013 C-Max SE. Very impressed with the firm seating, head and leg room, visibility, and power to drive in the mountains of Vermont. While I expected the gas mileage to be low for a hybrid, (35 - 38 MPG at 70 MPH on the interstate). The C-Max exceeds my expectations(getting 42 - 44 mpg on 2 lane roads at 40 - 50 MPH). Figuring the difference in gas mileage and with gas currently at $2.50 per gallon, should save about one third of the price of the C-Max in the reduction of my fuel bill. (Will save even more when gas goes up again.)"
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By alexi on Saturday, March 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "42 miles/gal 12,000 miles"
Cons: "Wish the carriage was a little higher"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I was looking for a hybrid that would also accommodate 2 grandkids and fishing equipment. I became sold on the C-Max through a test drive on local, city and Interstate routes. The quiet, fast acceleration and great views made me want to drive it. After 12,000 miles I remain sold! And, Ford allowed me (if I waited 3 months) to build exactly what I wanted and did not want in the SEL, including a metallic blue that stands out. I can't figure out at all why the Max doesn't get great reviews for reliability-not one problem. The car is built close to the ground, so not suitable for off-road."
By Codewarrior on Wednesday, March 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas Mileage"
Cons: "Sun visor is a poor design"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love my C-Max hybrid. Based on my experience with this Ford product, would I do it again? Yes, I would."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By OP on Saturday, February 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, more manly than a Prius."
Cons: "Sacrifice on size."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Sacrifice size for mileage. Fun to drive. Power when you want it or conserve to maximize mileage. 43+ mpg to date."
9 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By JDK on Sunday, January 18, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great mileage, outstanding passenger & driver comfort"
Cons: "No spare tire"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I wasn't looking for a C-Max. It found me. Had never heard of them when I saw one in the Ford showroom. Realized it had everything I needed. Comfortable seating for 5, rear seat folds down flat, good mileage (40 mpg), very smooth ride, performs well out on the highway and in town, attractive quality interior cabin, nice exterior styling. I love the sound system, navigation, comfort controls. Get lots of compliments (usually prefaced by "What kind of car is this?) I don't know why Ford hasn't advertised the heck out of this car. I love it. So do my passengers. The windshield/windows/moonroof make this a great car for touring pleasure. My only concern: Old school me wishes I had a spare tire. Recently I caught a nail that blew through my sidewall. Fortunately I was close to a dealer. Wouldn't want to get stuck somewhere remote without a spare."
23 people out of 33 found this review helpful
By Julia on Saturday, January 17, 2015
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Poor reliability
Pros: "Comfort, storage space"
Cons: "Battery, transmission, inclement weather driving."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I purchased the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and began to regret my decision very quickly. Yes, the seats are comfortable and the gas mileage on the sticker is enticing. However, the mileage is not at all as advertised. When I purchased my car it was advertised at 47 MPG. My average at 36,000 miles is 38.4 MPG. The seats remain comfortable as I am tall, and the visibility is nice. It has decent storage room for a small vehicle. However it has been nothing but problems since the day I drove it off the lot. In the past month I have had to take my car back to the dealer 3 times. Twice I had to have it towed there. In the first year of owning this car it spent more time in the shop than my previous vehicle, which I owned for 10 years. The worst of the problems include the battery failing (twice, it was on its third battery when I sold it,) the transmission leaking, and the gear shift locking to where I couldn't put the car in gear. There were also numerous smaller issues and some other significant issues, so this car has been nothing but trouble. Another negative is that it does not drive well in any sort of weather. I have had the "traction control" kick in and cause me to start sliding while starting (slowly) from a stoplight in light rain. It slides around on the snow, unable to get any traction. In short, it is a comfortable car, but you can never really rely on a car that is at constant threat of failing to the point that it cannot be driven. It also does poorly in inclement weather."
14 people out of 23 found this review helpful