By KBB.com Editors
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 + 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.
By flor on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "more horse power than other small hybrids,"
Cons: "false gas mileage, noisy, battery problem"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"MPG less than what they advertised, makes loud noise when accelerating, parts are cheaply made, not easy to set up the dash computer. My worst complaint about this car is the battery problem. The battery has died on me 4 times so far. They changed battery in May this year and it died again first week of August. Ford acknowledges their is a problem but really, i don't think they know how to fix it. If it dies one more time, i will ask for an arbitration process to claim this a lemon! No i would not recommend this car."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By red55b on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,250overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "FAST!!!!! when it works"
Cons: "SYNC System deadly MPG grossly misrepresented"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Yikes!Thanks Ca Lemon Law we can give Ford back their death trap.Ford SYNC System failed locked our windows and doors and turned off AC 105 degrees outside fortunately our service dogs window was locked in down position. Also 3 different times car was parked keys locked in box untouched un driven for 3 days all 4 windows rolled down and all 4 doors unlocked BY ITSELF. Car has huge interior fit a full size washing machine inside and was able to close lift gate with extra space its very fast when it works.Grossly exaggerated fuel efficiency already got a rebate check from Ford "for misrepresentation of sticker rating MPG" Our Ford 2013 Cmax hybrid un able to be driven 8 miles round trip to work 35 days 3 recalls(Ford still not completed work on recalls due to other battery issues)Car completely dead battery would not even jump start July 31st 2014. 15 days later I drove it 2 miles had be towed back to service for another week.DOT IHHTS has my registered complaints safety seriously disregarded by Ford as well as no return contact from Ford Customer relations after initial contacting them for help.I have made every single lease payment early and carried full insurance and so many attempts beyond reasonable to get Ford to get their service techs to fix this car.Just got car back and FYI gas mpg is dropping by the mile worse than ever has."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Trucker on Saturday, May 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "MPG 43.5"
Cons: "turning radius lacking in my opion"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Over all mpg for my 9000 miles 43.5mpg happy with that for my 70 mile round trip to work and home.My 1st i'm Hybird I'm still getting use to the sounds it makes switching from one power to the other, hey it's on how you drive it if i fly to work doing 75-85 mph i can get mpg to drop to 35 mpg if i keep it in the 60-70 mph range i'm right at the 43.5"
20 people out of 25 found this review helpful