Ford C-Max Energi Review

Ford C-Max Energi Review

Tall-roofed, space-efficient wagons like the Ford C-Max Energi are very popular family vehicles in Europe but are a rarity in the United States. Add the fact that the C-Max Energi is also a plug-in hybrid and it's obvious this Ford is far from a conventional choice.

Nevertheless, the Ford C-Max Energi has a lot of appeal for families on this side of the Atlantic as well. It's exceptionally fuel-efficient, drives smartly and has a stylish and well-made interior. Its plug-in hybrid design also provides the potential for much lower fuel consumption than other family vehicles you might buy. The main downside is that the Ford C-Max Energi is a lot more expensive than the typical hybrid car.

Current Ford C-Max Energi Specs
The Ford C-Max Energi is a four-door wagon/hatchback with seating for five. It is sold in a single, loaded SEL trim level.

Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition and entry, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, Ford's Sync voice-activated controls and the MyFord Touch touchscreen interface. Major options include a navigation system (coupled with premium audio), Ford's nifty hands-free power liftgate (bundled with a rearview camera) and an automatic parallel parking system. A panoramic sunroof is a stand-alone option.

Of course, the big story on the Ford C-Max Energi is its plug-in hybrid powertrain. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor provides an estimated 188 horsepower. Ford claims the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid can travel up to 21 miles and at speeds approaching 80 mph in all-electric mode. Once that electric driving range is depleted, the vehicle operates as a standard hybrid, using the electric motor only to assist the gasoline engine under certain conditions and to recover electricity generated during braking. Using a 240-volt charging system, fully recharging the battery pack only takes about 2.5 hours.

Electric-only driving range of that magnitude allows the Ford C-Max Energi to deliver one of the market's best overall fuel-efficiency ratings, making this family wagon a very appealing choice – especially for those with shorter commutes. However, the C-Max Energi costs more than similarly sized conventional hybrids as well as traditional wagons, crossovers and minivans that offer more space. In addition, the jumbo-size battery pack eats up a large portion of the wagon's potential cargo space.

Underway and on a fully charged battery, the C-Max Energi typically is propelled only by the electric motor for several miles. The wagon remains blissfully quiet and performance is energetic. You'll have no problem merging into fast-moving traffic or pulling away from a standstill. Only if your right foot asks for more thrust than the electric motor can provide is the gasoline engine awakened to provide support. The C-Max Energi also handles pretty well as hybrids go, though it's not overtly sporty and its regenerative brakes also require some acclimatization.

Once the hybrid battery pack is drained, the C-Max Energi's driving appeal fades slightly. The four-cylinder engine has to do the work of moving the car's bulk (those batteries add quite a few pounds) without the help of the electric motor. If you try to accelerate hard, the engine can get rather loud and you'll likely also hear some unseemly groans. Although this kind of behavior is common in hybrids, it definitely makes you yearn for the next recharge. As consolation, the C-Max Energi achieves great fuel economy, as once it's out of all-electric mode and into normal hybrid mode it rates an EPA-estimated 43 mpg combined.

From behind the wheel, the Ford C-Max Energi feels a lot like a small crossover SUV. There's good legroom and shoulder room up front, and the seats are very supportive. They're also mounted high, combining with a large windshield and side windows to create a commanding view of the road. Although the dash layout can look a bit confusing at first, time and familiarity with the intricacies of the MyFord Touch interface clear up some of the initial bewilderment. Rear seat legroom is good even for adults, and there's an abundance of headroom thanks to the tall wagon profile. Folding the rear seats increases the cargo capacity to 42.8 cubic feet, which is about 20 cubic feet shy of a Toyota Prius V or a typical small crossover SUV. Also, the load floor isn't flat when the seats are folded, due to the battery pack, which creates a high shelf that sits about a foot higher than the load floor.

Used Ford C-Max Energi Models
The Ford C-Max Energi debuted for the 2013 model year. There have been no significant changes since.

Ford C-Max Energi years