Have You Driven a Ford C-MAX Hybrid Lately?

Ford C-MAX Hybrid
Source: Ford Photo Library
I must admit it's been decades since I've driven any kind of Ford, but when I was approached with the opportunity to drive a Ford C-MAX Hybrid, I was intrigued, and not just because it meant a chance to ditch my creaky, old minivan for a few days. Let's be clear, though, I was eager to ditch my minivan.

I'm a firm believer that the best car is the one you own free and clear. We're fortunate to have two such cars, but they've each got more than 100,000 miles on them, so a new car purchase is somewhere on the horizon.

Safety and mileage are big concerns for us, and then there are features. Given that it's been about a decade since we purchased a new car, today's features are exciting and a bit overwhelming. I remember when anti-lock brakes and a five disc CD changer were the shiz. Gah, I'm old.

We're definitely looking for eco-friendly features, so the C-MAX Hybrid fits the bill. It's a direct competitor to the Toyota Prius. The C-MAX looks larger, zippier and more masculine than a Prius. It's less soft around the edges and not as cute and small.  When I saw the C-MAX in real life for the first time, I thought it had a masculine vibe.

Maybe this is why my husband liked it. In fact, I think he liked it more than any other test car I've driven over the years. Sidenote: I'm only five feet tall, so head room is never an issue for me, but my husband who's nearly a foot taller has more opinions on the matter. He felt comfy with the 41-inch front seat head space.

Officially, this five-seater is EPA certified at 47 mpg city AND highway, but I checked in at about 33 miles to the gallon, which is still impressive compared to the 8-10 mpg I likely get driving my minivan around town on very short trips.

The C-MAX Hybrid runs on a combination of a gasoline engine and a battery-driven electric motor. Starting up the car takes getting used to as they are so quiet until the gas-powered engine kicks in. More than once I found myself wondering if the car was on after I started it with keyless fob, Ford calls this Intelligent Access.
2013 Ford C-MAX - Intelligent Access with Push Button Start
 If you have the Intelligent key in your purse or nearby, the system will sense it
and you start the car with a simultaneous push of this button and the break pedal.
When the driver brakes, the system captures the energy and stores it in the battery. The dashboard features a "brake coach" that would indicate how efficiently I stopped the vehicle, with my scores typically ranging around a 98%. My boys would alternately challenge me to bring that score up or down.

Next-generation SmartGauge<sup>®</sup> with EcoGuide
Other dashboard features provide a steady stream of performance feedback. 
Other high-tech features in the C-MAX Hybrid I tested include outlets and USB ports, rear-facing cameras that activate when the car is in reverse, a nav system, satellite radio service, blue tooth compatibility for related devices and voice activation commands. My tween, the younger of my two boys, enjoyed being able to boss someone, or something, around as he switched the radio back and forth between his favorite stations.

When I picked up the car, I neglected to ask for an orientation to the Park Assist feature and the Ford guy forgot to point it out. Luckily, my blog friends came to the rescue. Here's a video of California Girls Jessica Gottlieb and Donna Schwartz checking out the feature.

Performance-wise, although the average mpg I achieved during my time with the car didn't live up to the official ratings, it was better than anything else I've driven. Ever. I did have an issue with the clock resetting itself several times during my week with the car. I'm not sure if that was a glitch the car or something my tween did. The vehicle handled well on the road, it was comfortable to drive and lived up to its zippy look despite being a hybrid.

According to Ford, the C-MAX Hybrid is expected to be America’s most affordable hybrid utility vehicle. It has a base price of $25,995, including destination and delivery.

Breaking News. Since my test drive in December, news about the C-MAX has caught my eye.

Ford will be incorporating EV+ technology, something that helps the car learn a driver's favorite destinations and use the information to optimize power consumption. EV+ combines a vehicle's built-in GPS with proprietary software that identifies frequently visited locations and adjusts how power is stored in the battery. As a suburban mom who makes a regular treks to school, the library, the train station and, um, Starbucks, Target and Costco, all within 3 miles of my house, I'm excited about this. I know these short drives with plenty of stop signs and stop lights along the way make my minivan guzzle gas.

As a geek mom, I'm excited that new Ford cars will allow voice control of the awesome NPR news app through. Waiting in the carpool lane will never be the same!

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