February 20, 2013
On the road the C-Max is quiet and sufficiently powerful enough to contend with typical driving demands. Like many hybrids, braking is initially “grabby” but you do get the feel of it after a short while. Outward visibility is extremely good (the windshield seems huge; resulting in a passenger wiper about two-thirds the size of the driver’s), and while driving, various displays analyze your driving style in such a way that you can modify your technique to maximize fuel economy. Much of the instrument panel is dedicated to fuel consumption, including a leafy vine display that grows more or less luxuriant, providing strokes as you use less fuel and brake more efficiently.
Regarding the wipers… a small thing, but the switch for the rear wiper is a particularly fiddly device located at the end of the multifunction stalk. We had issues, that switch and I.
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL. Click image to enlarge
The C-Max has a tall roof – overall height is 1,623 millimeters, compared with 1,466 for the Focus Hatch – so headroom should be more than sufficient for the vast majority of occupants, both front and rear. C-Max feels spacious and comfortable inside; front seat occupants can select five heat levels for their seats from rather fussy controls located on the centre console, in front of the drink holders. Speaking of the roof, ours wasn’t equipped with the optional fixed Panoramic sunroof version, which can be specified for an additional $1,200.
Handling feels light and sharp, but what a large turning circle you’ll face when attempting to enter a familiar parking space or make a U-turn on the street. The C-Max’s 11.4 metre (38.4 foot) turning diameter is wide for a vehicle of this size (wider than the much longer Prius v), causing me to misjudge my attempts to park or turn on several occasions. This is an area drawing criticism from many owners and reviews. It makes the C-Max more of a chore to maneuver in confined areas.
The power liftgate is a great convenience. You rarely find this feature in smaller vehicles or non-luxury wagons, and it’s a treat to use. The C-Max cargo floor is quite high, however, due to the presence of the 1.4-kWh lithium-ion battery located below. The rear seats are of the 60/40 split-folding variety, usefully opening the cargo area.
The official fuel consumption ratings for the C-Max Hybrid are 4.0/4.1 L/100 km, city/highway. This would be fantastic if accurate or even close, but my experience in combined city and highway driving was 8.5 L/100 km. On occasion in the city I’d see 10 or 11 L/100 km for extended periods and never bettered 7.9 L/100km on the highway (doing 90 km/h).
Perhaps the cold weather contributes to these poor numbers; we’ll have to follow up in the summer to see how the C-Max performs in ideal conditions. For the time being, I’d have to say I’m disappointed with the fuel consumption results of the C-Max, especially because as some may know, I can coax some really good numbers from hybrid vehicles.
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