2015 FORD C-MAX HYBRID A CHALLENGER TO TOYOTA PRIUS
By Tom Crosby
It is not unusual for automakers to test new models in foreign countries to work out bugs before marketing them in the United States.
Ford sold the Focus C-Max hybrid in Europe for ten years before bringing it to the United States three years ago as a 2013 model, delighting Ford loyalists.
It’s a legitimate contender to Toyota’s top hybrid, the Prius 5 hybrid, with a more powerful engine, similar mileage, slightly better rear seating space and costing thousands of dollars less.
The Prius excels in total cargo space but similarly equipped it’s base price is about $5,000 more than our C-Max SEL with a $3,000 equipment option adding navigation, upgraded audio, rear view camera, power liftgate, parallel parking aid and other features. A Prius upgrade option costs nearly $5,000, compelling stingy buyers to look hard at the C-Max.
After traveling more than 2,400 miles in the C-Max with more than 2,000 interstate miles, our highway mileage averaged 39.1, beating EPA’s estimate by 2.1 mpg. With a straight ahead steering bias, quickness aided by the smoothly integrated continuous variable transmission and a solid suspension system with light road feedback, the ride was enjoyable.
Handling was reasonably responsive but with large turning radius when making U-turns. There is an SE version of the C-Max and a C-Max Energi, which uses a plug-in battery charger, instead of the C-Max’s effective regenerative braking.
Spending hours behind the wheel, comfort becomes a big deal and the SEL’s automatically adjustable front leather-trim bucket seats minimized posterior fatigue with an elevated road view.
On short city trips, rear seat adult passengers expressed surprise at the comfortable seating. Ford markets the C-Max as a multiple purpose vehicle and dropping the rear seats flat provides ample cargo space (although roughly 16 cubic feet less than the Prius) with netting on the side and a small storage area under the cargo floor. Cabin storage spaces are few. Tire sealant is stored under the front seat.
Ford says the C-Max can go up to 62 mph on the battery alone and EcoGuide lets you see lithium-ion battery regeneration and learn conservative braking techniques. There is upscale technology available with MyFord Touch on the 8-inch screen and voice recognition for navigation and controls. SIRIUS satellite radio is available on a Sony premium surround sound system plus CD/MP3 and USB input jacks.
LIKES: Ride, mpg, pickup, looks, comfort, price
DISLIKES: No space tire, few knick-knack spaces
BOTTOM LINE: Family hybrid with pep, panache and competitive pricing
- Base price w/destination fee $27,995 ($30,995 as tested)
- Curb weight 3,607 lbs.
- Wheelbase 104.3 inches
- Length 173.6 inches
- Width 72 inches
- Engine specs 2.0-liter, DOHC, inline 4 cylinder
- Horsepower 188 hp @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque 129 ft-lbs @ 4,000 rpm
- Transmission Continuous variable transmission
- EPA Rating 42 mpg city, 37 mpg highway
- Range 13.5-gallon tank, regular gas
- Performance 0-60 in just over 8 seconds