2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Drive Review

this is the all-new 2013 Ford c-max hybrid now this is the first true American alternative to the tow to Prius and Prius V and in that I am also discounting the Honda Insight just a little bit but more on that later so let’s hop in let’s take a look under the hood of for its all-new 47 mile per gallon Prius fighter instead of copying the iconic shape of the Prius like Chevy did with the Volt and like Honda did with the insight Ford’s gone for something completely different and because this is based on a Ford Focus platform it should be no surprise that this looks sort of like a focus meets crossover utility vehicle meets minivan of course back here we have a hatchback and we have a tall greenhouse and we have a tall roofline as well the c-max in Europe is available with a conventional range of gasoline and diesel engines but in America it’s hybrid only and a word about that hybrid technology before we dive in there’s this misconception somehow in the world that Ford licensed the hybrid technology from toda but that’s not really the case Ford and Toyota were both Co developing

their hybrid technologies Huk tota called the synergy drive Ford just calls it a hybrid the root of this is a power splitting planetary gearset that uses two motors and an engine in one planetary gearset to split power between the electric motor and the engine as well as generating power and powering the battery pack now the concept was really designed by TR w in the 1960s but both Ford and Todd have started really working on this in the 90s now at some point for danto to realize that their patents were probably gonna conflict with one another so of course they did the usual bevy of lawsuits back and forth but then they did something interesting and they cross licensed each other’s patents not just related to the hybrid system but to some other patents as well the net result of this is that while Ford and totus hybrid systems share some very similar design elements and in fact they operate essentially the same way they don’t actually share any parts so you won’t find any toyota transmission parts under the hood of a Ford hybrid you won’t find any forward parts under the hood of a towed hybrid the heart of this hybrid system is both the 2-liter and consumed cycle 141 horsepower engine as well as a 118 horsepower AC synchronous motor the two put together don’t exactly add one plus one to two so the combined horsepower rating on this system is a hundred and eighty eight horsepower and I estimate a

combined torque rating of about 200 confit of torque all the Ford really doesn’t specify there’s also a 1.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack back here in the cargo area that’s upgraded to a 7.6 kilowatt hour battery pack if you choose the plug-in version of the c-max so what makes this system different from the Honda Insight and why am I not really calling the Honda Insight a good Prius competitor well it’s all about that under the hood area here because this system is essentially the same as the Toyota Prius it behaves very much the same as the Toyota Prius whereas the Honda system

what they’ve really done is they’ve taken a regular old gasoline engine and a regular old transmission and they insert a fairly large Pancake motor in between the two now there are no clutch packs in vaults that means that even when a Honda Civic or Honda Insight is driving quote-unquote electric only the engine is still spinning it may not be consuming any gasoline but that motor has to spend both the engine and the transmission in order to actually send power to the wheels because the c-max wasn’t designed as a dedicated hybrid vehicle like the Prius there are a few compromises back here in the cargo area the first thing you’ll notice is this load floor is about three or four inches higher than the opening from the tailgate and that’s because the battery is located in this area now the battery doesn’t occupy the entire area we do get a handy little storage compartment here under this initial cover great for those Thanksgiving leftovers that you might have in the trunk now the rear seats do
fold completely flat which is a great

thing in this vehicle because you can

push bags all the way forward from the trunk and that’s quite a bit handy than some of the vehicles where the seats don’t fold completely flat with the load floor cargo space in the c-max lots somewhere between the lift back Prius and the hatchback Prius V this is the largest roller bag you can carry on a domestic flight so you can see it fits back here quite easily we were also able to fit four of these identical bags in the cargo area of this c-max both in this vertical position as well as this horizontal position and in the horizontal position you can still close the cargo cover or fit a few more bags up on top of course there’s an optional power liftgate in the c-max and as you can see the hinges don’t impact the cargo area which is very nice overall this area is finished quite nicely back

here and as far as hybrids go especially compared to the Prius and Prius V I’d give the c-max a solid nine out of 10 points in our exclusive trunk comfort index there’s no denying that the interior of the Prius is a little bit funky we have that center mounted disc we have those really hard plastics on the dashboard they’re textured differently than I’ve seen in any other car we have that Center matted joystick shifter and we have the usual Prius funky steering wheel the CEMEX on the other hand is very normal car anybody can hop into this vehicle and they’d instantly know how to use the car they know how to drive the car they know how to turn the car on they know how to use the radio etc all the controls are very standard forward we get a nice soft touch up or – the gauges are right behind the steering wheel where you’d expect them to be and the steering wheels even shared with the regular Ford Focus the sitting position in the c-max is very crossover SUV ish and by that I mean very upright these seats sit high off the floor and that’s versus something like a Toyota Prius that makes these seats quite a bit more comfortable for me it also gives me a slightly better view of the road than in something like the Toyota Prius our se tester doesn’t have the power driver seat but our seat is still adjustable

for height and we still get a tilt telescoping steering wheel perhaps it’s because of the c-max is European origins but there are a few nice touches in this interior versus your average run-of-the-mill Ford as well as the Toyota Prius we get vents that close with nice little knob ease on the dash we also have this interesting array of vents here I’m not sure if you can see this in the video but we have these vents up here that point towards the face and then we have another set of vents that point towards the leg and those are independently open a Boleyn closeable we also have dual zone climate control in the c-max standard that’s something that you can’t get in the Prius like the front seats the rear seating position is very upright in the cemex but these seat bottom cushions are

a bit closer to the floor as you can see that means that for an adult this might get a little bit tiring on the thighs but it’s probably suitable for most children now this front seat is adjusted for me at 6 feet tall as you can see I still have about 3 or 4 inches of legroom left back here in the rear I also have an incredible 3 or 4 inches of headroom left here in the rear which is quite amazing but it’s all because of that very hatchback like profile that the c-max delivers even the center seat in the c-max is very usable I still have about two inches of headroom left here and even though this seat cushion is incredibly firm in the middle seat I could probably tolerate this for you know an hour or two on a car trip because there’s enough Headroom and enough legroom back here even for this middle passenger there’s essentially no hump in the middle which is a great thing as well as what the Prius things get a little bit cheaper in the rear so you won’t find soft touch plastic on these rear doors like you do on the front door that being said the plastics choices and the parts choices in the c-max definitely feel more premium than a Prius and that includes these nice air vents in the center console since the c-max doesn’t have a spare tire underneath the front passenger seat you can see we have our can of fix-a-flat

back here you also find something interesting under that floor mat which is a tiny little cargo cubby not really quite clear what you’d put under there but there’s one there if you need it let’s take a quick look at the infotainment options in the c-max our particular model is equipped with the MyFord Touch system which integrates sync which you’re probably familiar with which is their microsoft voice command system with this large eight-inch color touch screen LCD now unlike many of the other products that have my Ford touch this car does not use touch buttons so we actually have real physical buttons here in the – lower the – we have dual zone climate control which is standard on the c-max unlike the Toyota Prius which only gets a single zone climate control you’ll notice we also get a real shifter in the c-max this is also quite different from the Prius everything in this car in fact is very normal looking and normal very very normal feeling and this is the kind of car where you could get your grandmother in the car and she would know how to drive this car Ford divides the MyFord Touch system into four quadrants and we’ll go over those one at a time first up here we have the phone section as you can see we have our typical phone interface of course all this is voice command able in the system

as it would be in the regular sync

system our particular c-max has the optional navigation system which is pretty typical for this space as you can see we get a 2d map we get a 3d map we don’t get topographical information like you would in something like BMWs iDrive over here we have our climate control system did you see as you saw before we have physical buttons for the climate control system but they’re also mirrored here we get a few more options if you want to disable the dual zone climate control then you can only do that in this screen this climate control system is voice command able as well like most of the other elements in the sync system and then over here and the lower left we have the infotainment options we have am/fm sat and Sirius satellite radio we have an in-dash CD player and we have two USB ports in the center console now this system like the other myford touch systems is not capable of providing enough power to charge something like an iPad or any of those higher draw you speed devices but it does work quite

well with my iPhone 4s as well as my iPod Nano we also have an AV in which is also in the center console which allows you to play video games or other video out sources on to this screen here in the – like the other myford touch product we have complete voice command over our eye device or a USB music device and that works very well and is fairly unique in this space although Nissan has recently started doing this with their lower end navigation systems and tota has their Entune product we haven’t had much time to test Honda’s new infotainment option in the new Honda Accord but we’re told that it operates very similarly one major concern of my Ford touch in the past has been both the speediness of its response and its tendency to crash frequently well we did still notice that this system was a little bit sluggish at times during our week with the c-max it didn’t crash once and that’s a huge improvement really for Ford because all the previous versions of my Ford touch that we’ve tested have crashed fairly frequently during the week a big part of the MyFord Touch

system are these 2 4 inch LCDs on either side of the speedometer now they’re controlled by buttons on the steering wheels you can see we have a four-way joystick with ok button on either side of the steering wheel and this display on the left usually does climate navigation phone and entertainment but in our hybrid model that’s been replaced by efficiency leaves and if you’re driving your c-max efficiently you can see the leaves grow instead of a tachometer or something like Toyotas regular power gauge over here on the left side of the speedometer we have something that’s different in the Ford product and something that I think is quite intuitive over here on the left we get the power that the engine is putting out you can see that’s the larger circle there and the smaller Crescent here is the power that’s being delivered by the electric motor over here we have the MPG gauge and of course we have a little icon saying that we’re in easy mode over here we get the battery that shows battery state as well as what the battery is doing so right now there’s a down error because the battery is discharging if it was charging there’d be a little up arrow there on that other side and if it was regenerating there’s a little spinning wheel here on the battery the car will also help you be more efficient by grading your braking style so you can see right now we’re charging because we’re breaking and
because we brake slowly we got a 99%

energy return score now that doesn’t mean that 99% of the energy that it took to stop the car was recaptured by the system that’s a sort of a general grade because it’s not possible to really recapture a hundred percent of the energy that it took to get you up to a particular speed so you can see right now we’re in Eevee mode and if we press on the gas a little bit more the engine will start you can see that little white dial there is starting to go up compared to the Toyota Prius the c-max is a lot more aggressive about engaging evey mode and it will use evey mode at a wider variety of speeds than the Prius all the Ford claims that this car can only be an AV mode up to 62 miles an hour we have been able to keep it in easy mode up to 70 miles an hour on the highway and it’s a lot easier to do that because you don’t have to be as ginger on the throttle as you do in the Toyota Prius the first thing you’ll notice out on the road about the c-max is how much quicker this is than the Prius I’m talking about both the Prius liftback as well as the Prius V and

that’s because we have a lot more power under the hood 188 system horsepower as we said brings us to 60 in just over seven seconds and that compares very well to the Prius is nine seconds and the Prius V is nine and a half what makes that 60 time even more surprising is how much the c-max weighs this car weighs 3600 pounds which makes it 600 pounds heavier than a regular Prius and about 300 pounds heavier than even a Prius V in spite of that curb weight the C max handles fairly well out on these winding California roads definitely definitely better than any of the Priuses or the pre I am sorry Toyota and that’s partially because of this extremely well sort of chassis again this is related to the world focus which is a very good thing to be related to but also because we have much wider tires than any of the Prius models so we
have 225 with tires on this particular

model and most of the Prius has come equipped with 195 s with optional 215 s available maybe it’s because of that extra curb weight but the c-max really handles broken pavement considerably better than the insight or the Prius both of those models can get a little bit crash D over broken pavement and that never seemed to happen to us during our time with this c-max that heavy curb weight does have a downside however and that’s in the fuel economy even though this C max is rated for 47 city 47 highway and 47 miles per gallon combined we were only able to average about 41 to 42 miles per gallon during our mixed driving tests over about 600 or so now that’s a decent amount less than the Prius which averaged about 44 45 miles per gallon even though it was rated 50 miles per gallon combined by the EPA let’s put those mile per gallon numbers into perspective however because if you drove a Prius or a c-max or a Prius V for 15,000 miles a year then the Prius would only cost you 50 to 70 dollars less per year in fuel costs than the c-max because when you’re getting that many miles per gallon the

difference between 40 and 45 miles per
gallon or 45 and 50 miles per gallon really doesn’t affect your annual fuel costs that much now the Prius V in our tests averaged between 37 and 40 miles per gallon which means that it would cost about a hundred dollars a year or so more than this c-max to commute that same 15 thousand miles a year and those numbers are at California’s high $4 a gallon gas costs not only is the c-max quite a bit peppier than the Prius out on the road you can even get something approaching one wheel peel if the road surface is just right in this car but we also get something that’s approaching real steering-wheel feel now that’s not to say that there’s a great deal of feel going on here but the resistance is fairly nice and it’s it’s much more pleasing to drive than a Prius Toyota’s hybrid system has long been the benchmark for hybrid system smoothness and I’m talking about transitions between gasoline power electric power and gasoline-electric hybrid power but this Ford c-max as well as the new Ford Fusion really are the new benchmark for this segment because as smooth and as transparent as the Lexus and Toyota systems are in those transitions this Ford system manages to beat them quite honestly the the transition between

electric power when you first take off from a stoplight and having that gasoline engine kick in really is incredibly seamless and because of the torque from this electric motor when you floor the car and that engine kicks in later it’s also really hard to tell when that happens the c-max hybrid starts at twenty five thousand two hundred dollars and if you check all those option boxes you can get this baby up to thirty two thousand five hundred dollars well that may sound expensive the c-max Lots neatly pricing wise between the Prius liftback and the Prius V hatchback that’s really no surprise there because this is trying to the goldilocks of hybrids and be everything to everyone in this hybrid market now we do get a decent amount more cargo room in the back we of course get that nicer interior better electronics and I think a more attractive exterior those things take it together I would buy a c-max / a Prius any day even though it doesn’t get as good a gas mileage as the Prius both in the EPS cores and in the real world

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