By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
While Toyota’s new Prius hybrid can brag about best-in-class fuel economy, Ford’s 2016 C-Max offers a number of equally enticing reasons to look toward the blue oval. In the areas of interior design, comfort and technology, the C-Max feels warmer than the ultra-modern Prius layout. The 5-door C-Max Hybrid’s tall roof provides excellent accommodations for four adults, plus ample room for their luggage. Fold the C-Max’s rear seats flat and you’ll find a cargo bay large enough to rival some small SUVs. And, because the 2016 C-Max Hybrid shares much of its suspension bits with the excellent Ford Focus, it offers a smoother, quieter ride than most other hybrids, not to mention a more dynamic driving experience.
If it’s time to add a hybrid to your garage, but you fear doing so means giving up style, comfort or a fun-to-drive attitude, Ford’s C-Max Hybrid and plug-in C-Max Energi for 2016 will put your mind at ease.
Those seeking the hybrid with the best fuel-economy and resale figures have only once choice: the Toyota Prius. You can achieve the same or better fuel economy in a diesel VW Golf, or burn no fuel at all in a Ford Focus Electric.
For 2016, the Ford C-Max Hybrid gains some new colors and the addition of the much-improved SYNC 3 voice-activated infotainment system.
If you think Ford’s 2016 C-Max Hybrid is only about fuel economy, you have it confused with that other well-known hybrid hatchback. The secret to the C-Max’s success is the...
... spirited way it rides and drives. Ford’s hybrid system performs near-seamless transitions between the gasoline engine and electric motor, so much so that you’ll likely forget you’re driving a hybrid – that is, until the vivid LCD displays inside the instrument cluster refresh your memory. Acceleration is another C-Max virtue, an impressive feat given the battery pack’s added weight. On winding back roads, the C-Max’s Focus roots are clearly evident, delivering a smooth ride, a hushed cabin and an immediate response to even the slightest steering-wheel inputs. We also love the C-Max’s tall roof, expansive glass and raised seating position that provide a commanding view of the road ahead.
With the MyFord mobile app, owners can manage the C-Max’s charge times as well as check battery levels right from their smartphones. Even better, the app will display a map of the nearest charging stations, making long-distance travel a little less worrisome.
ACTIVE GRILLE SHUTTERS
The more aerodynamic a car’s body, the easier it is to achieve maximum fuel economy. So goes the thinking behind the 2016 Ford C-Max Hybrid’s active grille shutters. At highway speeds, the shutters close, redirecting air around the front end and reducing drag for improved fuel economy.
Ford’s newfound status as a leader in interior design and material quality is evident in the 5-door C-Max for 2016. 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 6-footers. The cargo area offers less space than the new Prius, but is still well within the bounds of what is considered good for a compact wagon.
To fuse aerodynamics with utility, the 2016 Ford C-Max’s exterior design emphasizes function over form. While no less stylish than Toyota’s sleek new 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 2016 Ford C-Max Hybrid 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 new SYNC 3 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 Ford C-Max Hybrid for 2016 features a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine, a gearless continuously variable automatic 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 19 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: 42/37 mpg (Hybrid), 40/36 mpg (Energi)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2016 Ford C-Max Hybrid SE starts right around $25,000, with the top SEL trim tacking on an additional $3,000. Energi plug-in hybrid models begin closer to $32,500, but are eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $4,000, depending on the state where purchased. Be sure to check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2016 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 Prius.