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2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Review

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2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Expert Review

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When it comes to bragging rights, the Toyota Prius has long dominated the fuel-efficiency argument. However, the 2014 Ford C-Max is looking to change the debate by offering a hybrid with features that go beyond good mpg, namely style, comfort and a fun-to-drive attitude. Like the Prius the C-Max is a 5-door hatchback that can comfortably fit four people, or with its seats folded haul loads of cargo. Because it's based on the Ford Focus the C-Max is more driver-friendly than the Prius, offering a better ride, a quieter cabin and a more polished interior. While the Prius may have been first to the party, the 2014 Ford C-Max looks to be the kind of gate-crasher that isn't going to leave without a fight.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're impressed by the good fuel economy a hybrid can deliver, but you don't want to sacrifice the comfy features yielded by so many non-hybrid cars, the 2014 Ford C-Max masterfully blends both desires into a single vehicle.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're car-shopping mojo is motivated solely by the highest mpg ratings, the Prius still dominates the field. The Prius also has a slightly lower starting price.

How It Ranks

#3

out of 6

Fuel Economy

#3

out of 6

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

8.1 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Low/wide front photo What's New for 2014

The Ford C-Max sails into 2014 relatively unchanged. New transmission gearing aims to improve fuel economy, while a new approach to fuel-economy labeling results in slightly lower EPA estimates more in line with real-world driving.

Driving the C-MAX Hybrid
2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions The C-Max's trump card isn't its excellent fuel economy but rather its very Focus-like driving characteristics. Ford's hybrid powertrain setup feels considerably more responsive than the system Toyota employs in...

... its Prius cars, and a near-seamless transition between gasoline engine and electric motor, even at higher speeds, makes you forget you're driving a hybrid car. The C-Max's added weight – nearly 600 pounds – over the Prius should work against it, but we found the car accelerates briskly, loves to play in the curves and delivers a surprisingly comfortable and quiet driving experience. A tall roof and wide side glass provide excellent 360-degree visibility, while the elevated seats provide an SUV-like driving position. We found the C-Max brakes to be quite good, but the brake pedal's position relative to the driver is a bit awkward.

MYFORD MOBILE
As the technology behind the plug-in hybrid is still relatively new, Ford created a smartphone app to assist owners in managing charge times and checking battery levels. The app also provides a map of nearby charging stations.

ACTIVE GRILLE SHUTTERS
Aerodynamics is the key to better fuel economy and less wind noise inside the passenger compartment. The C-Max's active grille shutters close at highway speed, directing air over and around the car's front end, reducing drag and thus reducing fuel consumption.

2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Details
2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Ford's newfound status as a leader in interior design and material quality is evident in the 2014 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 is 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.

Exterior
2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid photo

In order to fuse aerodynamics with utility, the 2014 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 multipurpose vehicle than a hatchback. Although 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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

In base SE form, the 2014 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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood
2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Engine photo

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 + electric motor
188 net hybrid system horsepower
129 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 40/45 mpg (Hybrid), 44/41 mpg (Energi)

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2014 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 where purchased. 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 2014 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.

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2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.1
Out of 10

Based on 66 Ratings for the 2013 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.2/10
    Quality
    8.4/10
  • Reliability
    8.2/10
    Performance
    8.6/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

Love this car.

By on Friday, August 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "excellent"

Cons: "can't think of any"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Had this car for 9 months, 26,000 miles. Handles wonderfully, super comfortable, plenty of room for all kinds of stuff, tall adults have plenty of room in back seat. I love this car! Wisconsin winters the average mi/gallon goes down - maybe 35 mi/gal. on average getting 41 + miles/gallon. and it's powerful and fun to drive. I'm having a hard time thinking about anything I'd complain about."

I love MAX

By on Saturday, August 01, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, nice features"

Cons: "Rear cargo compartment size"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I traded in my VW Jetta Sportwagen for the C-Max about 9 months ago. While the size is comparable, the amenities are like day and night! It has upgrade features similar to much higher priced vehicles. I have a bright blue one that draws lots of compliments and the interior is just as nice. I am getting 42+ mpg - mostly stop/go city driving, but even on highway going 70 mph I still get almost 40 mpg. Rear lift gate is tricky to open with your foot, so I usually don't use that feature. If I had a complaint, it would be the size of the rear cargo compartment. It is not very deep and not nearly as large as my VW Sportwagen. With the rear seats reclined, however, the storage space is about the same."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

comfort and ride excellent; electronics are a pain

By on Monday, July 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "gas mileage good"

Cons: "electronics a bother"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"We are still finding bugs in the electronics. Voice recognition takes more effort than good handles. Touch screen needs someone with child size fingers. Too many menus except for the teen-age nerd."

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

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