Ford's C-Max Multiactivity Vehicle Available in U.S. in 2011

If you have a large family or just prefer driving a van, finding a vehicle that suits your needs and is also as fuel-efficient as a car has probably been a challenge. Maybe you are concerned about style and features as well. Ford’s answer to this problem comes in the form of the Grand C-Max, a vehicle that debuted recently at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany.

They are calling it a microvan or multiactivity vehicle to distinguish the smaller-than-minivan sized vehicle from a traditional van or minivan. Ford has given the C-Max twin sliding doors that minivan buyers look for, and this is what also distinguishes the vehicle from crossover utility vehicles. C-Max will be available in five- and seven-passenger models; these will be rolled out first in Europe in 2010.

If you’re interested in the C-Max for your family, look for it to arrive in late 2011. That is when the seven- passenger Grand C-Max will be made available in the United States.

Features include a folding seat mechanism on the middle center row that allows that row to be folded under the two outboard seats for third row seat access. Using this arrangement, the C-Max has two seats in each row which are roomy enough to accommodate adults. This configuration makes the multiactivity vehicle similar to the Mazda5.

There are only a few similar vehicles available in the U.S., one being the Mazda5 and the other the Kia Rondo. The Mazda5 seats six and has sliding doors, and the Rondo is more of a smaller crossover vehicle because it does not have the sliding door feature.

In offering these vehicles, the automakers’ aim is the same: provide room for a large family combined with good fuel efficiency.

U.S. consumers have expressed concerns over similar small vehicles. Current thinking is that your family is safer in a larger SUV than a smaller vehicle, but with more and more drivers in smaller cars, the risk may lessen as time goes on.

Ford says the C-Max will be built on the new global C-segment vehicle architecture, which is also used for vehicles like the compact Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla. The aim is to offer a design that can show how compact multiactivity vehicles can be stylish and desirable, according to Ford.

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