The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid Review by John Heilig

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

The Auto Page
By John Heilig

Model: 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
Engine: 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle I4
Horsepower/Torque: 188 total hp/129 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: CVT
Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
Length x Width x Height: 173.6 x 72 x 63.9 in.
Tires: P225/50R17
Cargo: 24.5/52.6 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)
Economy: 47 mpg city/47 mpg highway/32.3 mpg test.
Fuel tank: 13.5 gal.
Curb wt.: 3,640 lbs.
Sticker: $31,085 (includes $795 destination and delivery, $2,610 in options)

Bottom line: The all-new Ford C-Max Hybrid only acts like a hybrid when you go to the gas pump to fill it up. Then you realize that you've been driving a something special vehicle. Ford claims the C-Max is a large car. It has good interior dimensions with fairly compact exterior dimensions.

Among Ford's extensive menu of vehicles for 2013 is one whose name doesn't begin with F - the C-Max, which comes in two versions, the Hybrid and the Energi. We drove the Hybrid.

Based on the literature, I wasn't sure what I'd see in my driveway. Since the focus (sorry) of the C-Max is economy, I naturally expected some version of a compact, possibly a sub-compact. Pictures don't do the C-Max justice.

What I encountered was a compact hatchback that had plenty of interior space. Ford's window sticker claims the C-Max is a large car, but to be perfectly honest, it's a compact-to-midsize at best. No matter.

The C-Max in any definition is a very good rider. We had the opportunity to drive it over a variety of road surfaces and straightness and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. For example, we almost immediately headed out on a two-hour Interstate run to the state swim meet where the C-Max sat parked for a couple of hours.

The next morning we took the C-Max on a more leisurely two-hour touring excursion around Lewisburg, Pa., visiting four of the state parks in the area.

Our best run took us 20 miles into "the middle of nowhere" where we drove over reasonably straight roads and several that hd some character to them. We had hills and twists and turns and a couple of interesting stops. True to the advertisements, there was a lot of nowhere out there.

Ride quality was excellent all the way, although road quality played a big part in our pleasure factor. On asphalt surfaces, for example, the C-Max was relatively silent and smooth-riding. On concrete and less-than-perfect surfaces, however, a lot of road noise entered the cabin.

Power from the 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder is more than adequate. The engine itself is rated at 141 horsepower, but with the electric motor added, total power rises to 188 horses. Since the C-Max weighs 3,600 pounds, 188 horses are enough.

A Continuously Variable Automatic Transmission (CVT) gets the power to the wheels smoothly. While we have heard complaints from some journalists about CVTs, I have had no disagreements with any of them, except the early ones.

Stopping the C-Max proved to be interesting. The four-wheel disc brakes did their job well, although at times they appeared to be sticky, making for jerky stops.

We had a fully stocked audio system with the usual complement of suspects for entertainment. Our choice was Sirius XM among the radio choices, but a CD player and USB connection (in the center console) were also available. In addition, the HVAC system kept us comfortable in some pretty crappy weather that ranged from clear to rainy to snowy.

Front seating is comfortable, with a power adjustable driver's seat that offered good side support. They're heated as well, which helped (see previous paragraph).

There's good leg and knee room in the firm back seats. There's also a flat floor, so any middle passenger back there won't get overly friendly with his or her knees. There is also a 115-volt AC outlet at the rear of the center console. The rear seats fold flat to increase cargo volume by a factor of two. Levers on the sides of the seats do the job.

The cargo area itself has a high floor, but there is added storage underneath.

This is a hybrid, and a Ford hybrid at that, so the instrument panel is interesting. Flanking the centrally located speedometer is a pair of hybrid-car readouts. On the right is Ford's pictograph of a bush that grows or sheds leaves, depending on the eco-friendliness of your driving. On the left is a reconfigurable gauge that includes the fuel level and a combination battery/fuel economy/something I'm not sure of gauge. We kept it on fuel economy, which ended up at a decent 37.3 mpg, about 10 mpg under the EPA-estimated 47 mpg.

Despite some trepidation before the delivery of the Ford C-Max Hybrid, it all disappeared on driving it. Here's an economy car (in both versions) that doesn't act like one. Maybe the car read the sticker and believes it really IS a large car.

(c) 2013 The Auto Page Syndicate