Preview: 2013 Ford C Max Hybrid and Energi reviews car previews hybrids greenreviews ford
2013 Ford C-Max Energi. Click image to enlarge

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Ford Motor Company of Canada

Article and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2013 Ford C-Max

Ford has been teasing us with the prospect of the C-Max for what seems like years now. In Europe, the Focus C-Max is now into the third year of its second generation and tenth year overall, as an MPV that has gained great acceptance in the European market thanks to its flexible seating and cargo space, interior quality, and efficient lineup of engines including gas and diesel powertrains. In North America, it will be offered exclusively as a Hybrid, and later as a plug-in hybrid under the Energi badge. Think of it as Ford’s answer to the Prius.

Indeed, even Ford isn’t shy about drawing comparisons to the Prius lineup. The Ford representative that walked me through the C-Max’s features was keen to point out that in most significant categories (size, fuel consumption, price), it slots somewhere between the original Liftback Prius and the new Prius V, which is, in essence, a wagon. Like that Prius pair, it will only be available in five-seat format, unlike in Europe where it is available in five- and seven-seat configurations.

Preview: 2013 Ford C Max Hybrid and Energi reviews car previews hybrids greenreviews ford
2013 Ford C-Max Energi. Click image to enlarge

The C-Max falls somewhere between that wagon shape and a tall hatchback, much like the Kia Rondo, to which it is also very close in size, while giving up that third row of seats for battery space. The front end is still very much a Focus, maintaining Ford’s new global look shared with the Fiesta and Escape as well. Of course, since Ford’s aim is to offer the C-Max exclusively as an advanced powertrain vehicle, it gets a slightly modified grille with the same upper grille as standard Focus, but a lower frame with horizontal slats similar to the Focus Electric and Fusion. All C-Maxes have sharp 17-inch multi-spoke alloys with P225/50R17 tires aimed at comfortable, quiet, and efficient motoring.

Sizewise, the Focus C-Max measures 4,409 mm with a 2,649 mm wheelbase. Factor in the 1,829 mm width and 1,623 mm height, and the Focus yields up a 693 L trunk that grows to 1,489 L with the rear seats folded down to provide a completely flat cargo area. Compare that to the Prius’ 444 L trunk or the V’s 971 L trunk and 1905 L with seats down. The Energi’s larger battery cuts into trunk space and leaves a staggered cargo area with the seats folded down (Energi model pictured), measuring 543 L and 1211 L.

Preview: 2013 Ford C Max Hybrid and Energi reviews car previews hybrids greenreviews ford
2013 Ford C-Max Energi. Click image to enlarge

Seating in the C-Max is straight out of the Escape, with thin-frame seats that offer sufficient support, and generous comfort and space. The middle seat is surprisingly comfortable, with plenty of headroom in all positions (1,001 mm) for adult-sized people, and a very modest floor hump that barely interferes with foot space.

As with other Focuses, the cabin is trimmed in high quality soft-touch materials, in a very high-tech and angular design. However, the centre console is a tad more upright, for a more “command centre” feel to the Focus’ more sporty cockpit affectation. Ford will load up the C-Max with the full range of tech, including SYNC, MyFord Touch, push-button start, rear-view camera, and Active Park Assist (Ford’s self-parking tech), and front and rear parking sensors if you want to take parking matters into your own hands. And from the nifty gadgets column, Ford will also serve up the hands-free liftgate, or, as I like to call it, the hokey-pokey tailgate, which opens the trunk if you wave your foot (about) under the rear bumper with the fob in your pocket or purse—perfect if you’ve got both hands full of groceries or screaming children.

Preview: 2013 Ford C Max Hybrid and Energi reviews car previews hybrids greenreviews ford
2013 Ford C-Max Energi. Click image to enlarge

Of course, the main draw for this vehicle will be fuel consumption, with the EPA Combined estimates (NRCan estimates were not available for the C-Max at time of writing) putting it at 5.0 L/100 km (47 mpg), splitting the difference between the 4.7 L/100 km Prius (50 mpg) and 5.6 L/100 km Prius V (42 mpg). The Energi is sure to offer even better mileage (targeting the Prius PHV, of course), with a measure of electric-only range to further improve its fuel savings, a promised range of 800+ km, and the ability to operate in electric-only mode at higher speeds than any other hybrid. Ford will even offer a smartphone app that allows you to remotely view vehicle status info, unlock the car, monitor charge status, and for the Energi it can also program charging times to take advantage of off-peak rates to help save on your home energy bill or preheat/precool the vehicle while still plugged in.

Power is expected to be certified at 185 hp net and something approximating 130 lb-ft of torque, so acceleration might feel more like the Camry Hybrid than the sluggish Priuses. The internal combustion engine is a 2.0L inline-four, and the electric motor is an permanent magnet AC synchronous motor supplied by lithium-ion battery and power delivered to the wheels through a continuously variable transmission. The vehicle also includes the usual hybrid fare with auto start-stop, regenerative braking, and driving modes and indicators to help you drive more efficiently.

Preview: 2013 Ford C Max Hybrid and Energi reviews car previews hybrids greenreviews ford
2013 Ford C-Max Energi. Click image to enlarge

Expect the C-Max to drive like a taller Focus as it features the same fully independent suspension configuration of MacPherson struts in front and Control Blade multilink rear, though both ends feature larger stabilizer bars with 25 mm in the front and 25.5 mm in the back (standard Focus uses 23.5 front and 19.0 rear) to better combat the extra weight of batteries, electric motor, and high roof. Steering is Ford’s electric power-assisted steering system  (EPAS) that can take over the steering for the self-parking system, and no doubt weighted and tuned more to the ease-of-use end of the spectrum than the standard Focus.

The Ford C-Max Hybrid is slated to go on sale in September, starting at $27,199 for the SE, and $30,199 for the SEL. The C-Max Energi will be launched later this year, with pricing announced closer to its on-sale date.

The C-Max will be assembled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.