Some of you remember that in the later 1960s and much of 1970s, car companies were spending all their time and efforts on more horsepower. Today, the battle is for fuel economy. There are also a lot of car companies trying to come out with a hybrid that can take away sales from the king of hybrids, the Toyota Prius. Ford is aiming directly at Prius with the C-Max hybrid, my review car of the week. My 2013 tester is the Energi model, which is the plug-in version of the regular hybrid C-Max. The Energi will recharge completely in two and half hours if you have a 240-volt supply and it takes seven hours from a regular outlet. On a full charge, the C-Max Energi will go 21 to 22 miles on pure battery power, using no gas at all. Overall range between fill-ups is 620 miles.
Once the battery power is completely depleted, the C-Max goes to hybrid mode, switching between electric power and a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. The Energi comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is smooth and has good acceleration. This combo produces 195-horses.
The 2013 Ford C-Max Energi is a very comfortable car to drive with massive amounts of headroom. Someone 6’5” would fit just fine in either front seat. I have the SEL model which comes with an impressive list of standard features, like leather heated seats, keyless entry, pushbutton start, Sync, and My Ford Touch. You also get reverse sensing system, blind spot monitoring, and ambient lighting. Option-wise, this one has remote start, power liftgate, and rear view camera.
This car drives great, has exceptional visibility, and like all Fords, it is super quiet inside. It handles and corners well, and unlike many small cars, you don’t feel every bump in the road. Now let’s talk fuel economy, since hybrid and electric car owners are most interested in that subject. I can’t recall ever testing a car for gas mileage as extensively as I did this one. The reason is that Ford rated the car at 47 city and 47 highway, numbers which Consumer Reports disputed. I knew I had to get this one right. Their dispute was with the regular C-Max, not the Energi version, so I tested fuel economy two different ways.
First, I checked the full-battery version, coming off a full charge. I drove the car hard, was running the heat, heated seats, radio, and headlights. I got just over the equivalent of 80 miles per gallon. The car would have done 95-100 with no issues, but this was not of great interest to me. From that point, I never plugged it in again, wanting instead to have a true comparison to the Consumer Reports findings. Over six days, I ended up at 44.9 miles per gallon in city and highway driving, and that spans just over 400 miles of driving. In the interest of full disclosure, I never went more than five miles per hour over or under the posted speed limit. I admit too, I was trying to maximize the fuel economy which is easy using Ford’s terrific gauges. I also believe most hybrid owners drive to maximize fuel economy.
Bottom line, it’s a great hybrid, and an overall great car. I could not get the 47 miles per gallon out of it, but it’s a far cry from the 37 stated by Consumer Reports.
What I liked most: The smoothness of the car, and quiet interior.
What I would change: C-Max could use more cargo space, the batteries take up a lot of room.
MSRP: $25,200 on base model, Energi as equipped $35,440.
Fuel Economy: 44.9 overall in hybrid mode, see explanation above.
Warranty: 3 years/36000 miles bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles on the powertrain, 5 years/60,000 mile roadside assistance, 8 years/100,000 miles on the hybrid equipment and batteries.
2013 C-Max Energi in a few words: Great car first, and even better as a hybrid.