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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE C-MAX VEHICLE Mixing hatchback and small crossover style is the Ford C-MAX, featuring a 2-liter hybrid electric powertrain that gives families a fuel economy of 40 miles-per-gallon combined. Ford also uses excellent in-car technology to deliver both a sustainable and connected driving experience.

I drove a 2017 Ford C-MAX with the standard 2-liter four-cylinder Atkinson engine and electric motor with a lithium-ion battery pack. Drivetrain equipment also included an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT). Available in two trims, the base SE and the new Titanium, the following were standard features in my SE: clothe upholstery; 10-way power driver’s seat; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; dual-zone climate control; ambient interior lighting; SYNC with AppLink; rearview camera; rear in-floor storage; and SmartGauge with EcoGuide. Price as described without options came to $24,120.

For 2017, Ford narrowed the trims down and instead placed features into optional packages. The main competitors are the all-new Hyundai Ioniq, the Toyota Prius V with more storage space, and the Nissan Leaf. Since its shape is reminiscent of a smaller SUV, those seeking a family ride with all-wheel drive with decent fuel economy might want to check out the Honda HR-V.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The C-MAX beltline has grown more aerodynamic and overall the design is more appealing than the upright boxy shape it first entered the market in. The battery pack places a limit on storage abilities, yet you’re getting more than a sedan and in some cases smaller SUVs. Ford does offer plusher interior materials, and are available with the C-MAX but will cost you. My SE trim featured a $1,600 Equipment Group hat added leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 10-way power passenger seat; a $395 ruby red paint job. The Titanium trim will bring you push-button start, a premium Sony audio system, and a Driver Assist Package with front parking sensors, hands-free power liftgate, navigation. Keep in mind many of these features are stand-alone options – all this is a new approach and I like how a consumer isn’t stuck paying for something they don’t want.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2017 C-MAX a total of 4-Stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway safety (IIHS) rates the 2017 model as mainly “Good” in all categories, omitting small overlap front which earned an “Acceptable” and child seat anchors (LATCH) ease of use a “Moderate.” 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: The C-MAX has a starting price of $24,120 for the base SE. The Hyundai Ioniq starts at $22,200 for the base Blue with a recent Limited test drive at $27,500. The base model Prius One starts at $23,475 with a mid-level Prius Eco Two at $27,762. A loaded Prius Prime Advanced trim can reach $36,305.

Activity & Performance Ability: The feel of the C-MAX continues to provide immediate acceleration sans your typical hybrid characteristics, yet Ford braking proves to have hallmarks of being too tight, making stops a tad abrupt. 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. I noted in a review of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq, the performance lacks a punch with the D-cut steering wheel possessing a strange feel.

The Green Concern: The 2017 Ford C-MAX gets 42-city and 38-highway for a combined 40 miles-per-gallon. Fuel economy for a recent Hyundai Ioniq was 55-city and 54-highway for a combined 58 miles-per-gallon. The Prius with the 1.8-liter hybrid system gets 58-city and 53-highway for a combined 56 miles-per-gallon.

Setting 40 miles-per-gallon aside, Ford can sell you on the 2017 C-MAX’s interior extras and the fact you don’t have to pay for any of it unless you want the upgraded option. While perhaps not the most attractive hybrid on the market, it lands somewhere between the odd-shaped Prius but isn’t nearly as sexy as the new Hyundai Ioniq.

Editors' Note; As of time of publication this model was not available for sale in every city in the USA, check with your Local Ford Dealer to see if you can buy one.

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©2017 Katrina Ramser