HEELS ON WHEELS: 2013 FORD C-MAX HYBRID REVIEW
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE C-MAX VEHICLE
Ford gets into the hybrid game with the all-new Ford C-MAX, a hatchback featuring the space attributes of a smaller SUV and conveniences typically not always extended to the cheaper gas-saving models like leather upholstery, power seating and a remote power liftgate. Fuel economy is 47 miles-per-gallon combined and pricing starts around $25k.
I drove a 2013 Ford C-MAX with the standard 2-liter four-cylinder Atkinson engine and electric motor with a lithium-ion battery pack for a total of 188 horsepower. Drivetrain equipment also included an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. Available in just two trims, the base SE and SEL, my SEL test drive came with the following standard features: leather upholstery; ten-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; dual-zone climate control; ambient interior lighting; SYNC with MyFord Touch; push button start; a reverse sensing system; and SmartGauge with EcoGuide. Price as described came to $28,365.
The main competitor is the Ford C-MAX is the Toyota Prius. Since its shape is reminiscent of a smaller SUV, those seeking a family ride with all-wheel drive and decent fuel economy might want to check out the Honda CR-V and redesigned Toyota RAV4.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: The design of the C-MAX isn’t all that aerodynamic or inspiring – it’s glaringly compact look needs to be downplayed with a sweeping beltline doing it much justice. But the C-MAX has come out of the gate addressing basic vehicle desires that for years Toyota has ignored giving the Prius, like power seating and plusher interior materials. It does come in available equipment packages only at the tune of about $2,215 for hands-free audio and navigation, a power liftgate, and keyless entry, plus a $395 Blue Candy exterior paint job. The few quirks include limited positioning with the steering wheel, no backup lines on the rear camera display, and the complexity to work Ford’s connectivity system outside of the well-organized touchscreen.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the C-MAX a total of 4-Stars, with best results in side-impact crash tests. Standard safety equipment includes an advanced airbag system, anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, MyKey for –pre-setting volume and speed, and 911 Assist for automatic calls to emergency services through paired smartphones.
Cost Issues: Many of the optional equipment on the SEL trim make hatchback driving life easier for a mom, like the remote power liftgate and keyless entry, so my recommended C-MAX (the SEL trim with about $2,215 in optional technology) is going to cost consumers about $30k.
Activity & Performance Ability: Responsive and refined, the C-MAX doesn’t harbor any of your typical hybrid characteristics – acceleration is smooth, even and instant. Yet braking proves to have hallmarks of being too tightly wound up and sensitive, never easing into a stop lightly. The powertrain engineering is impressive, with the C-MAX operating at up to 35 miles-per-hour on electricity alone, and then automatically shutting off the gas flow when gliding at speed below 62 miles-per-hour. It’s spirited at the corners, absorbs road impurities well and features a quite cabin.
The Green Concern: No argument here Ford is offering an environmentally focused vehicle with the C-MAX’s fuel economy of 47 highway and 47 city miles-per-gallon.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2013 Ford C-MAX is an equal alternative the Toyota Prius in costs and construction, yet with many premium bonuses the Japanese carmaker has denied the iconic competitor of. And performance attributes stretch beyond the 47 miles-per-gallon factor, including such surprising hybrid characteristics like commanding acceleration, true road agility, and quieter cabin.
©2013 Katrina Ramser