Over the past decade or so, technological advances and higher fuel prices has created an ideal environment for the development of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. Although Toyota Motor Corporation has been at the forefront of the sector for much of that time, Ford Motor Company is making a push to capture more market share, and the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid are the automaker’s latest offering.
The new model features Ford’s 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine teamed with a lithium-ion battery powered permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor. The powertrain delivers an impressive 195 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. The C-Max Energi can reach speeds of 85 mph and has a range of 21 miles on electric-only power before needing to be recharged. The C-Max hybrid has a maximum speed of 62 mph in EV mode.
The C-Max Energi’s advanced powertrain has three operational modes. In EV Auto mode, the C-Max automatically shifts between using the gas engine and electric motor. EV Now mode forces the vehicle to operate on battery power only. EV Later mode forces the vehicle to use only the gasoline engine.
Charging time is about two and a half hours using a 240-volt charger. If using a common 120-volt outlet, charging time is extended to around seven hours.
The C-Max has a curb weight of 3,899 pounds but has more confident acceleration than the Toyota Prius, and the transition from electric to gasoline power is fluid.
The C-Max’s batteries are positioned low to the ground to give the vehicle a lower center of gravity and handling is responsive, even when cornering.
The C-Max’s interior is spacious, with plenty of head and legroom, but cargo room is slightly less than offered in the Prius V plug-in hybrid, due largely to the large electric battery pack, which is located in the bottom of the C-Max’s hatch.
The C-Max features the popular MyFord Touch infotainment system and comes with optional sun roof, hands-free liftgate, leather seats and active park assist.
The C-Max hybrid and C-Max Energi Hybrid both qualify for a $3,750 federal tax credit.