- 45 / 40MPG
- 5.2 / 5.9L/100km
- BODY TYPE: Hatchback
- TECHNOLOGY: Hybrid
- BASE MSRP: $25,170
Buhler Ford’s 2014 C-Max Hybrid continues forward with efficiency enhancing tweaks for the green hatchback that launched as a new model in August 2012.
In the U.S., the front-wheel-drive C-Max is only available in hybrid form, but in Europe it’s available with other conventional powertrains. The EPA classifies it as a “large” car.
The only reason Ford’s making it a hybrid only is to create an alternative brand identity to Toyota’s Prius line, and perhaps other green vehicles, and it’s done a good job so far.
Updated for 2014 is its fuel economy rating which is reduced to 43 mpg combined, and the adjustment came about in a case last year when Ford corrected the 47 mpg window sticker after a lot of controversy including high-30/low-40 mpg ratings from professional reviewers, and lawsuits by consumers.
The C-Max hybrid finished its 2013 sales year in 6th place out of 44 U.S. hybrids in the US market and to date this year it’s the 7th best seller.
The changes Ford made are intended to help it more readily achieve its now-lowered – but still respectable – fuel economy ratings. These updates include revised gearing for more efficient transmission drive ratios; aerodynamic changes; and a new lower friction engine oil. The alteration to the aerodynamics are a new hood seal, front and rear tire deflectors, A-pillar moldings and rear lift gate deflectors.
Otherwise, The Ford C-Max Hybrid is still relatively fresh in its early life cycle and a solid alternative to the higher-mpg Prius Liftback, or lower-rated Prius V wagon, the Ford C-Max Hybrid is essentially the same car as it was when first introduced.
Ford C-Max Powertrain
Propelling the C-Max is the same “Powersplit” hybrid system as found in the Ford Fusion Hybrid. It consists of a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle engine built in Chihuahua, Mexico, plus electric motor and battery.
The aluminum, four-valve-per-cylinder engine is rated at 141 horsepower, 129 pounds/feet of torque and power is packed seamlessly in with the electric motor.
The motor adds as much as 114 horsepower and 177 pounds-feet torque at 6,000 rpm. Power is routed through an eCVT (electronic continuously variable transmission) with a planetary gearset that can decouple or combine the two independent power sources.
A 1.4-kwh lithium-ion battery provides the electrical energy storage.
The front wheel drive system is rated at 188 horsepower.
The 3,640-pound C-Max splits the difference between a Prius Liftback and V in terms of cargo volume.
Its length of 173.6 inches is actually shorter than both the 181.7-inch-long V and the 176.4-inch-long Prius Liftback. However, the C-Max is 1.9-inches taller than the V, and 5.2 inches taller than the Liftback while also 2.1-inches wider than the V, and 3.3-inches wider than the Liftback.
Ford builds the aerodynamic 0.29-cd (automotive drag coefficient) car on the global Ford Focus platform, and then maxes the dimensions out, so its name is appropriate. Styling is smart and progressive with the signature grille seen on other compact and mid-sized Fords.
The vehicle rolls on wider 225/50 series tires which, while providing a more solid appearing stance, and potentially more grip.
Ford’s power, you may note, is also more than Toyota’s 134 system horsepower, which was part of Ford’s effort to distinguish the C-Max over the Prius siblings. The C-Max is also much quicker with a 7-8 second-plus 0-60 time, a good couple seconds or more lower than the 10-second or so Liftback and tad slower V.
Quarter mile time has been clocked at 15.5 seconds in the low 90s for the C-Max, and believe it or not, that was all a 5.0-liter Mustang GT may have done during some years in the early 1990s.
Ford’s ECO green car is thus fairly peppy in the real world, and this also means it may potentially use more fuel if one chooses to use that power.
Inside the C-Max, the large-class car is roomy enough for four adults comfortably, and possibly a fifth person, as this is a 5 seater auto. Comfort-wise, the electronically controlled driver’s seat is sufficiently supportive with decent. From the driver’s seat, controls are within easy reach, and the steering wheel has multi-function buttons that can be learned intuitively.
Quality of materials is good, with soft-touch vinyl on front door panels, dash, with matching harder plastic in back. Some may find the quality of some of the materials to hold an edge over the Toyotas.
As mentioned already, the car is more satisfyingly quick if that is a priority to you.
Road manners are decent also, and while the body does roll taking hard bends, it can be driven at a brisk pace with confidence, just a reminder that this is no sports car.
The eCVT auto transmission blends the power in an infinite band that makes a strong attempt to keep the average mpg high as possible.
The EPA rates it at 45 city, 40 highway, and 43 combined.
Ford Motors caught heat for how it tested and rated the introduction of the C-Max – in fact, it admitted the original 47 mpg sticker was based on a legal loophole from the 1970s that let it test the Fusion Hybrid, and assign the same rating to the C-Max.
“In addition to improving the vehicle itself, Ford is changing the way it generates the miles-per-gallon label for C-MAX Hybrid going forward,” said Gord, a Ford Spokeman in a press release.
So what’s a realistic ECO MPG?
Real world mileage can vary but reviewers have noted the updated 2014 C-Max may be good for an extra mile per gallon or so over the 43 combined.
The vehicle is a solid package, progressively styled, with high utility and quality of build. Take a test drive in one at Buhler Ford at the Jersey Shore.