LISTEN 15:03

The C-Max is Ford’s first Hybrid-only model and comes in two mechanical configurations: Hybrid and ‘Energi’ Plug-in Hybrid. Bringing the heat to Toyota’s popular Prius and the Chevy Volt, the C-Max fills a solid gap in the marketplace among consumers who won’t settle for the other cars’ many limitations.

C-Max sales are ramping up steadily and the C-Max is on track to be Ford’s best-selling hybrid model of all time by the end of 2013, based on current year-to-date sales and projections. Granted, Ford has some major ground to make up versus the Prius lineups, which has topped 200,000 sales annually in recent years.

The first-to-market advantage of the Prius continues today with the model family taking 58 percent of the market share for hybrid-electric cars. Despite its utter dominance of the segment so far, there’s no reason that the Prius should set the template for all PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) or simpler full hybrids. As shown by the Tesla Model S, there really is a better way. Driving a hybrid shouldn’t have to mean total misery on the road. Would anyone choose a Prius if it didn’t get amazing mileage? No way.

Living somewhere between the Prius and Prius V models, the C-Max offers some real advantages versus its archrivals from Toyota.

Ford’s bringing its fun-to-drive C-Max to crash the dull Prius party. With more space and more family-friendly packaging than the Focus, but all of its enthusiasm for corners, the C-Max pair will continue to gain ground in the sales battle among eco-keen drivers.

Click past the jump for the full C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi review, detailed specs and jumbo image gallery.

  • 2013 Ford C-Max
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    CVT Automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • MPG(Cty):
  • MPG(Hwy):
  • Torque @ RPM:
  • Energy:
    Sequential multiport electronic
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    8.1 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    115 mph
  • Layout:
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • car fuel:
  • body style:


2013 Ford C-Max Exterior
- image 509485

The styling of the C-Max is quietly inoffensive with sophisticated surface treatments, practical proportions and the latest family cues from both the Focus Electric and Fusion Hybrids.

The front of the C-Max features a prominent chrome grille and smaller top and bottom grilles below. The effect disguises the C-Max’s tall wagon body profile nicely and is paired with simple reflector headlamps and chrome-trimmed fog lights. Overall, it is not quite as striking as the Fusion but looks better than the Focus to some eyes.

In the accompanying photos, the grey and greenish cars are the Hybrid models, while the light blue car is the Energi. It’s easy to get them mixed up: they share all dimensions and styling aside from unique badges and a charging port for the C-Max Energi’s wall plug.

All C-Max models have active grille shutters that close off a portion of the C-Max’s nose for additional aerodynamic smoothness when the cooling air isn’t needed.

Exterior Dimensions:

Wheelbase 104.3 in.
Overall length 173.6 in.
Overall width 75.6 in.
Overall height 63.9 in.
Track 60.5 inches (front) , 60.4 inches (rear)
Curb weight 3640 pounds (Hybrid), 3899 pounds (Energi)


2013 Ford C-Max Interior
- image 509503

The interior of the C-Max is practical with lots of space for small families and is also wrapped on a sleek modern design with some interesting features buried in the long standard features lists. Class-exclusives include optional SYNC with MyFord Touch, rain-sensing wipers, and a foot-activated automatic tailgate.

Sitting higher than the Focus, the C-Max has very comfortable and supportive seats and provides keyless entry and ignition as standard.

Other highlights include the Ford SmartGauge cluster that consists of the central speedometer flanked by LCD screens on both sides to display the eco driving and braking coaches that help drivers adjust their driving style to maximize efficiency and regenerative braking. Ford claims the C-Max is able to draw back up to 95 percent of the power typically lost through heat when braking. The exhaust system also is layered in capacitive surfaces to convert engine heat into battery power.

As Ford’s first dedicated Hybrid, there are very few interior compromises for the Energi model’s much larger battery: only a few cubic-feet of trunk space go missing. Also on the Energi is a centrally-mounted EV button that allows drivers to operate in silent electric mode for up to 21 miles – far longer than the Prius Plug-In’s 6 miles – and at a max speed of 85 mph. The hybrid model can only reach 62 mph in electric mode.

The Energi is equipped with MyFord mobile, an app-based platform for scheduling and monitoring the vehicle’s charge status from afar. EV+ is a feature that seems like a particularly smart idea that shows Ford is thinking about the future.

In many global cities such as London, lawmakers are drafting rules to allow only electric cars in dense city centers (or allowing them to come into the centers without paying the $20 daily congestion charge). We’re not quite there yet with American cities but it’s on the horizon. EV+ is a setting that can automatically switch to electric power at a selectable GPS way-point, such as the city limits, where a driver will always want to switch to EV mode when commuting, for example. This automates the process and is easy to use.

The interior of the C-Max marks it well above the competition, particularly the Prius, whose interior is less like a normal car. The final interior achievement is really thorough sound-proofing that makes the C-Max a far more relaxing and civilized drive than the Prius, which can be unrefined under heavy throttle, crashes over bumps and is generally more boomy inside.

Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL model Standard Interior Features:

  • One 12V power outlet(s) in front and rear
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Roof antenna
  • Anti-theft protection
  • Audio system with AM/FM radio, CD player (reads MP3 format), digital media card and satellite radio
  • Cargo area light
  • Cargo capacity: rear seat down (cu ft): 54.3, all seats in place (cu ft): 24.5 and Manufacturer’s own
  • Coming home device
  • Compass
  • Trip computer: includes average fuel economy, current fuel economy and range for remaining fuel
  • Floor console with covered storage, overhead console
  • Cruise control
  • Front cup holders
  • Door entry light
  • Electric Power source: lithium ion, lithium ion 18 and battery kWh: 1.4
  • Outside air temperature indicator
  • Floor covering: carpet in passenger compartment and carpet in load area
  • Carpet floor mats
  • Intelligent driver and passenger front airbag
  • Driver bucket front seat heated with 10-way power height, power lumbar and power tilt, front passenger seat bucket front seat heated
  • Height adjustable driver and passenger front seat belts with pre-tensioners
  • Front seat center armrest
  • Garage door opener
  • Headlight control
  • Two height-adjustable front seat head restraints, three height-adjustable rear seat head restraints
  • Driver knee airbags
  • Low tire pressure indicator
  • Navigation system with arrows and voice
  • Reverse Sensing System rear radar parking distance sensors
  • Card key power locks
  • Power front and rear windows with one-touch on two windows
  • Front and rear reading lights
  • Rear seat belt, passenger rear seat belt, 3-point center rear seat belt
  • Rear seat center armrest
  • Split-folding rear seats:
  • Auto-dimming rear view mirror
  • Steering wheel mounted remote audio controls
  • Remote control trunk/hatch release
  • Seating: five passengers
  • Leather upholstery
  • Service interval indicator
  • Front side airbag
  • Intelligent Access smart card/smart key includes keyless starter
  • Six speakers
  • Leather-trimmed, tilt telescoping steering wheel
  • Tachometer
  • 911 Assist telematics
  • Illuminated driver and passenger vanity mirror
  • Ventilation system with micro filter
  • Voice activating system for radio, phone and navigation system

In terms of size, the C-Max is roomier than Chevrolet Volt in all dimensions from the front and back seats and closely matches with the Prius in most dimensions. The Prius packs 2 cubic-feet more overall passenger volume, plus more hip and shoulder room.

The C-Max Energi’s cargo compartment behind the back seats stomps the Prius Plug-in by more than 6 additional cubic-feet. The seats fold down in the Volt and Prius as well as the C-Max, but there flattest load floor when folded is in the Prius. Like the Prius, the Ford’s optional panoramic moonroof does eat about an inch of headroom, but there is plenty to spare.

Interior Dimensions:

Seating Capacity 5
Headroom (Front/Rear) 41/39.4 in.
Legroom (Front/Rear) 43.1/36.5 in.
Shoulder Room (Front/Rear) 55.9/55.2 in.
Hip Room (Front/Rear) 54.3/51.9 in.
EPA Passenger Volume 99.7 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume (Hybrid/Energi) 24.5 cu. ft./19.2 cu. Ft.
EPA Class Midsize

Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes

2013 Ford C-Max Exterior Drivetrain
- image 509483

The primary difference between the standard Hybrid model and the pricier Energi hybrid is that the Energi can double the estimated miles-per-gallon by charging it at home. Both models use the latest high-tech, Lithium-Ion batteries and the size of the pack grows from 1.4 kWh in the Hybrid to 7.6 kWh in the Energi. Accordingly, the Energi takes longer to charge than the Plug-in Prius, but that model is barely a real PHEV because the EV-only range is just a few miles and the max EV speed is just 25 mph.

Overall, the Energi’s larger battery and larger (by half a gallon) gas tank versus the Hybrid extends the possible max range from 570 miles in the Hybrid up to 620 miles in the Energi model. Both C-Max models offer smooth and easy transitions between hybrid and electric power.

Ford C-Max model C-Max Hybrid C-Max Energi
Engine Size and Type 2.0-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder,
Atkinson cycle
2.0-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder,
Atkinson cycle
Peak power – gasoline 141 horsepower 141 horsepower
Peak torque – gasoline 129 pound-feet 129 pound-feet
Peak Torque – electric 177 pound-feet 177 pound-feet
Transmission CVT Automatic CVT Automatic
0-60-mph 8.1 seconds 8.5 seconds
Top Speed 115 mph 102 mph
Top Speed - Electric Mode 62 mph 85 mph
EPA Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPGe) 47 city/47 highway/47 combined 108 city/92 highway/100 combined
Charging Time (Energi model only) - 120V/240V  7 hrs/ 2.5 hrs


Both C-Max models just finished NHTSA testing and are overall four-star cars, up to five stars in side crash test safety.

Standard Safety Features:

  • AdvanceTrac electronic stability control with Roll Stability Control
  • Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, dual front knee airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags
  • Adaptive restraints
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • SOS Post-Crash Alert System™
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tether Anchors for Children)

Reliability and Recalls

2013 Ford C-Max Exterior
- image 509494

The 2013 Ford C-Max was recalled in March 2013 to check the rear child locks on the doors, which may be defective and require replacement. Ford has had some real recall troubles with its car line in 2013, but the C-Max is doing better than the 2013 Escape, for which five recalls are already on the books.

The reliability of both C-Max models is above average, with the engine and transmission especially reliable. The new battery technology in the C-Max is less proven over the total lifetime of the car but is expected to meet or exceed the long-term charge capability of the older Escape Hybrid.

Pre-2010 Ford hybrid’s used Toyota technology under a licensing deal, but the latest generation of Ford Hybrids use a proprietary design that is less proven.

Pricing and Residuals

2013 Ford C-Max Interior
- image 509491

The C-Max lineup has three models available and a number of optional extras. The pricing for the option packs vary slightly depending on which base mode selected. The residual value predictions from Kelley Blue Book are not complete for the C-Max models; however, the related Fusion Hybrid is the firm’s top-ranked hybrid sedan for resale or trade-in value after 60 months.

Base pricing:

Ford C-Max Hybrid SE $25,200
Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL $28,365
Ford C-Max Energi $32,950

Major Options and Prices for the mid-level Ford C-Max SEL are listed below. The major options cost less in the better-equipped Energi model, and cost more in the cheaper Hybrid SE model.

  • Equipment Group 301A - $1,440: Navigation system with 3D and voice; Nine Sony speakers; Sony audio system digital radio
  • Equipment Group 302A - $2,215: Power liftgate; Rear cam&radar parking distance sensors; Hands-free liftgate; Includes: Equipment Group 301A
  • Equipment Group 303A - $3,080: Front radar parking distance sensors; Parking assistance: Fully automatic for front parking and rear parking; Includes: Equipment Group 302A
  • Interior Protection Package - $170: Plastic/rubber floor mats; Floor covering: plastic/rubber in load area
  • Exterior Protection Package - $245: Front and rear mud flaps; Rear bumper protection
  • Cargo Management Package - $115: Load restraint: net; Cargo organizer fold-able soft
  • Engine Block Heater (Fleet) - $35: Block heater
  • Panoramic Vista Roof - $1,195: Electric glass sunroof; Glass roof
  • Remote Start System - $395: Remote engine starter
  • Full Vehicle Car Cover (Dealer) - $375
  • Daytime Running Lamps (Fleet) - $45
  • Ruby Red Metallic, or White Platinum Metallic, or Blue Candy Metallic - $395: Multi-coat metallic paint


2013 Ford C-Max Exterior
- image 509477

The C-Max competes with the Prius, the Prius Plug-in, the Prius V (wagon), and finally the Chevrolet Volt Plug-in Hybrid.

Prius Plug-in

2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Exterior
- image 508455

The Prius still dominates this category by a huge margin, but the less-successful Plug-in model really falls flat versus the Ford on interior design, EV range, cargo space and price. The Prius V addresses some of the small-trunk concerns with the Prius PHEV but does so with a tall wagon body so dowdy that it makes the original Prius look sexy. The Prius is a lot of things, and “sexy” isn’t one of them.

The Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt
- image 336620

A pioneer in the plug-in hybrid arena, the Volt is now three years old and is struggling to maintain any sales momentum. The uncomfortable styling (especially the odd blacked-out window line in profile) plus a more-cramped interior and higher price leave it in bad shape versus the C-Max Energi.


2013 Ford C-Max Exterior
- image 509481

Ford’s vision for the C-Max as a dedicated hybrid model was to offer real-car driving dynamics, additional performance, and the segment’s best MPGe ratings for the Energi model. The car delivers on these goals and seems like a compelling choice versus the vanilla Prius. The large rear doors, auto tailgate and roomy back seats make the C-Max a great option for small urban families.

As with all plug-in hybrids, the Energi model is best suited for people with an attached garage. For everyone else, the burden of plugging the car in will quickly get old and the mileage will plummet. Based on how much EV time is spent driving, the Energi will need to be recharged at least once a week to maintain the quoted performance figures. Of course, if convenient, charging every night means virtually free running costs at current home-electricity rates.

The C-Max shows great progress for Ford’s effort to crack the hybrid market, the technology underneath, as well as helpful interfaces and tools for consumers to maximize the C-Max’s efficiency benefits. Part of a five-strong model lineup, the C-Max is actually a desirable car even without the stellar MPG numbers that are its party piece.

Category Rating Details
Driving A Fun Handling and Accurate Steering Enhance Driver Satisfaction
Performance B+ Very Good Passing Power And Acceleration By Hybrid Standards
Look B- Not Winning Any Beauty Contests But Perfect Tall-Wagon For Small Families
Value A Energi Model Cheaper Than Prius Plug-in Advanced
Overall B+ Easy-to-use Eco Tech Meets Big-Car Feel; Not A Prius
  • Leave it
    • Possible market confusion; Occupies a no-man’s land between all the various Prius models
    • All the light blue / light green colors make the shape look worse than it does in standard colors like white, black or graphite
    • Upcoming facelift will bring sexy nose more like new Fusion
About the author

Press Release

2013 C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi Overview

2013 Ford C-Max Exterior
- image 509498

Ford C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid Deliver Leading Fuel Economy Plus Range, Flexibility

  • Ford accelerates fuel economy leadership push by introducing new C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid with expected miles per gallon equivalent rating in electric mode better than Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid
  • C-MAX Hybrid expected to achieve better fuel economy than Toyota Prius v
  • C-MAX hybrids introduce next generation of Ford’s acclaimed powersplit technology, allowing operation in electric mode at higher speeds than any other hybrid

Ford’s two new hybrid vehicles, the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, are projected to set a new benchmark for fuel economy when they go on sale this year.

The C-MAX Energi is expected to deliver a better fuel economy equivalent in electric mode than the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid with a 500-mile overall driving range, more than Chevrolet Volt. The new C-MAX Hybrid is targeted to achieve better fuel economy than Toyota Prius v.

Both vehicles feature the next generation of Ford’s acclaimed powersplit technology that will allow operation in electric mode at higher speeds than any other hybrid.

“C-MAX is the right car for the time as it combines the dynamics and quality of a traditional car with the versatility of a MAV and leading fuel efficiency that you cannot even get from Toyota,” said Sherif Marakby, director of Ford’s Electrification Programs and Engineering.

The C-MAX hybrids headline Ford’s transformed lineup, one-third of which will feature a model with 40 mpg or more in 2012, building on the company’s commitment to give fuel-efficiency-minded customers the power of choice.

The C-MAX vehicles will be built on the company’s global C-segment platform and are two of five electrified vehicles Ford plans to launch in North America in 2012.

Scheduled to start hitting showroom floors in the second half of 2012, the C-MAX hybrids will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., with production powered in part by one of the largest solar energy generator systems in the state.

More hybrid innovations

2013 Ford C-Max High Resolution Interior
- image 509502

Ford holds approximately 500 patents that cover technologies in its electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles like C-MAX Energi in addition to several hundred patent-pending applications.

With 20 years of Ford research and innovation behind the software and hardware technology driving them, the C-MAX vehicles also offer a proven design and nameplate with more than 100,000 sold in Europe since it launched in late 2010.

The C-MAX hybrids will be the company’s first dedicated hybrid vehicle line and the first MAV (multi-activity vehicle) line in North America.

“The C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi are designed to meet the needs of customers looking to ‘plus-up’ and optimize their hybrid car experience,” said Amy Machesney, C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi Marketing manager. “These customers are living more environmentally responsible lives and may have bought a hybrid in the past. They are now ready for more hybrid choice, combined with style, better performance and additional versatility.”

Fuel efficiency, range and power
C-MAX Hybrid is projected to deliver class-leading fuel economy and beat the Toyota Prius v in both city and highway equivalent miles per gallon.

C-MAX Energi is projected to deliver better fuel economy in electric mode than the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid and is projected to achieve more than 500 miles of overall driving range.

The C-MAX line hits impressive fuel efficiency and range figures without sacrificing driving performance.

“With C-MAX, you get road-holding capability, sportiness and performance in addition to leading fuel economy, great versatility, great features and great technology in a package designed to exceed customer expectations,” said John Davis, C-MAX chief nameplate engineer.


2013 Ford C-Max High Resolution Exterior
- image 509506

The C-MAX line features the company’s innovative hands-free liftgate that allows quick and easy access to the cargo area without ever needing to fumble for keys. A gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper opens the liftgate when used in combination with a key fob the user keeps in his or her pocket or purse that tells the car it’s OK to engage. The same motion can be used to close the liftgate.

The vehicles also feature the newest version of SYNC® with MyFord Touch® to help inform, enlighten, engage and empower drivers – with an emphasis on increasing fuel economy.

This feature offers multiple ways for customers to manage and control their phone, navigation, entertainment and climate functions through voice commands, menus accessed through controls on the steering wheel, touch screens, buttons or knobs. In C-MAX Energi, the system offers additional information such as battery state of charge and distance to the next charge point.

The C-MAX also offers the next generation of SmartGauge® with EcoGuide. Designed to help drivers get the most from the C-MAX, information such as instantaneous fuel economy can be displayed on the left cluster to help drivers more closely monitor how their driving behavior affects the vehicle’s efficiency.

In the right cluster, redesigned imagery of green leaves shows overall driving efficiency. The left cluster shows Brake Coach, a feature that helps drivers optimize their use of the regenerative braking system so that driving range can be enhanced through proper braking techniques.

Available for C-MAX Energi is the MyFord® Mobile smartphone application that allows users to monitor charging, receive alerts, find charge stations, plan trips and do more from their smartphones or computers for an effortless transition to an electrified vehicle lifestyle.

Other available technology features on C-MAX include active park assist, push-button start, AM/FM/CD/MP3 Sony® Audio, HD Radio™ and voice-activated Navigation System.


2013 Ford C-Max High Resolution Interior
- image 509505

As Ford’s first North American MAVs, C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi provide customers with plenty of interior versatility and flexibility along with the urban maneuverability of a smaller vehicle.

The C-MAX line features a high roof design that gives each vehicle an overall height of 64 inches along with a higher command-style seat position instead of a cockpit-type. It also features five-passenger seating that includes a split, fold-flat second-row seat.

C-MAX Hybrid provides 54.3 cubic feet of space behind the first row and 24.5 cubic feet behind the second row. In C-MAX Energi, there is 43.4 cubic feet behind the first row and 19.2 cubic feet behind the second row.

Quality and ingenuity

Although Ford’s C-MAX vehicles are new, the software and hardware technology going in them has been evolving for nearly two decades.

The C-MAX line also benefits from analysis of more than 500,000 miles of data collected from Ford’s Escape plug-in hybrid test fleet, which helped engineers understand how plug-in hybrid vehicles are driven and charged and how parts perform under certain conditions.

“The result is a stunningly efficient system that has been entirely developed by Ford in-house,” said Marakby. “That’s crucial because it allows for development of one highly efficient system as opposed to integrating pieces of software and hardware made by different parties with hope that it will not only function properly but also efficiently.”

C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi get their power through the combination of a gasoline engine and a battery-driven electric motor. When powered by gasoline, the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi use the all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine – a powerful and fuel-efficient engine and among the most advanced non-turbocharged four-cylinder powertrains Ford has ever offered.

The electric motors of the C-MAX hybrids are powered by advanced lithium-ion (li-ion) battery systems designed to maximize use of common, high-quality components, such as control board hardware that has proven field performance in Ford’s critically acclaimed hybrid vehicles.

Li-ion battery packs are more efficient than nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries. They also are 25 to 30 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter than NiMH batteries used in today’s first-generation hybrid vehicles.

C-MAX hybrids offer Ford’s next-generation powersplit architecture that allows the electric motor and gasoline-powered engine to work together or separately to maximize efficiency. The engine also can operate independently of vehicle speed, charging the batteries or providing power to the wheels as needed. The motor alone can provide sufficient power to the wheels in low-speed, low-load conditions and work with the engine at higher speeds.

In the C-MAX Hybrid, the li-ion battery pack is recharged when the gasoline engine is in operation. Further, the regenerative braking system recaptures more than 95 percent of the braking energy that would otherwise be lost, and is able to use that power to help charge the battery. C-MAX Hybrid requires no plug-in charging.

C-MAX Energi is charged by connecting the vehicle’s external charge port to either a standard 120-volt outlet or available 240-volt charging station.


The C-MAX hybrids offer standard safety technologies such as the MyKey® teen safety feature, SYNC 911 Assist™ and seven airbags. SYNC 911 Assist uses hands-free phone capabilities to connect the driver directly with a local 911 operator through the paired phone should an accident occur in which an airbag deploys.

The next-generation MyKey features now allow parents to choose from multiple top speed limits and blocking of explicit satellite radio programming. MyKey also provides a persistent audible warning if front occupants are not wearing seat belts.

The C-MAX hybrids also feature standard safety and driver-assist technologies, including Curve Control that is designed to slow the vehicle when it’s cornering too fast and Torque Vectoring Control to help accelerate through a turn when necessary. AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control™ (RSC) and electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) also are standard.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: