Top: 2013 Ford C-Max. Bottom: 2013 VW Golf. Click image to enlarge.
Features and Value
Both the Golf Wagon TDI and Ford C-Max are available from a remarkably similar $27K (as is the Prius V, for that matter), and can be optioned into the mid-30s pricewise, with features and quality that reflect their brands’ priorities and value propositions.
The C-Max is a rolling demonstrator of advanced, high-tech features. Hybrid electric powertrain powered by lithium-ion battery, available options like navigation, touchscreen, hands-free power tailgate, proximity keyless entry with push-button start, it even parks itself when all the option boxes are ticked. A fully loaded C-Max Hybrid SEL with Parking, Hands-Free and Premium Audio and Navigation Packages is still cheaper than our Highline TDI, which can only match the C-Max on navigation and touchscreen.
Then again, even the $27,199 SE model with $2,200 Equipment Group 203A (power liftgate, backup sensors, MyFord Touch, Sync voice command, SiriusXM, and navigation) matched most of the Highline’s features. With other minor add-ons and freight, the C-Max totaled $31,599 to the Golf Wagon’s $35,280. About the only significant features that the Volkswagen brought to the table were leather seats and a massive panoramic sunroof, and part of that price is for the slick DSG transmission, a $1,400 option, whereas the C-Max’s efficiency-oriented CVT is standard fare.
Even on the quality front, the once vaunted Volkswagen interior was only shades better than the Ford. However, some might find the C-Max’s Battlestar Galactica interior a bit overwhelming on the visual senses, while others might find the Golf’s interior dreary and plain, though defenders will argue for its conventional and straightforward control as a comfortable backdrop for the business of driving. I personally like the excitement of the C-Max interior with its two-tone grey fabric seats and sharp, crisp screen and gauge graphics, but our side-by-side photos should help you form your own opinion and preference.
But as far as overall features and value for money, no question in my mind that the Ford is well ahead of the pricey Volkswagen, most of whose value is in its powertrain and chassis.