High Marks for the Ford C-Max

Roseville, CA – Ford prides itself on manufacturing mainstream vehicles for the masses. But at first glance, the 2017 Ford C-Max hardly fits the mold.

This is no “normal” car. In fact, it’s quite complex and even the classification is a bit convoluted. Is the C-Max considered a hatchback, a wagon or some type of runabout? The answer is a combination of all three. For the record, the Ford C-Max is classified as a four-door hatchback/wagon that can accommodate five passengers.

Yet even the standard category fails to really identify the C-Max. It’s a hybrid that’s also offered as a plug-in hybrid – the C-Max Energi. In either configuration, it offers some impressive gas mileage that many fuel-conscious car owners are seeking. The C-Max hybrid gets an estimated 37-42 mpg. The Energi, when in electric vehicle (EV) mode, gets the equivalent of 87-104 mpg and should deliver around 570 miles on a tank of gas. However, the Energi only has a 20-mile EV range when utilizing its large lithium-ion battery pack. That is far less than some other EV models.

2017 Ford C-Max

* Performance: 2.0-liter, four cylinder, 188 horsepower (paired with an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack)
* Mileage estimate: 37-42 mpg; equivalent to 87-104 (Energi model)
* Price estimate: $24,900 to $31,100
* Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited miles; hybrid electrical components warranty: 8 years/100,00 miles

When the C-Max maxes out in EV mode, it automatically switches to a hybrid gas engine. Ford states that approximate electric recharge times are 2.5 hours on a 240-volt outlet and seven hours on a standard 120-volt outlet.

But don’t evaluate the C-Max with fuel efficiency the only determining factor. The tall wagon seats five and provides an impressive amount of passenger space. It offers the utility of a small crossover SUV and is ideal as a commuter vehicle with versatility. It’s quite different than many of its competition, including the Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Prime.

First introduced in Europe in 2012, the C-Max quickly developed admiration among U.S. car buyers. While it falls short among some of its rivals in fuel efficiency and EV range, we loved the C-Max’s surprising performance, the way it handled, its quiet ride, and the efficient interior layout.

The C-Max receives impressive performance from its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 188 horsepower and 121 pound-feet of torque when paired with the electric motor. It reportedly goes 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds, an impressive speed considering some of its rivals are two seconds slower. At top speed, the C-Max can climb to roughly 85 mph. We liked how the C-Max demonstrated solid passing power and could scale challenging hills without laboring too much.

Another good trait that the C-Max exhibits is offering a confident and quiet ride. The hatchback handles athletically, corners efficiently, and gives the driver a confident feel on challenging, curvy roads.

The C-Max also receives high marks for its interior. The front seats are supportive and comfortable; there are no issues with leg or head room. Even with three people in the backseat the C-Max provides a roomy feel, typically not the case among vehicles of this makeup. We found the interior to be smartly designed, offering some techie features but not so much that they were difficult to master. There is a new Sync 3 interface and an 8-inch touchscreen.

There is only 24.5 cubic feet in the cargo area that expands to 52.6 cubic feet when the backseat folds down. Note that the Energi model has five less feet in the storage area due to a hump where the battery pack is located. A cool C-Max feature is a mere swipe under the rear bumper activates the power-opening cargo door. That comes in handy when one has a full load in their arms.

There are many reasons to consider purchasing the 2017 C-Max. Besides being terrific on gas consumption, it delivers good performance, features a smartly designed interior, and has a pleasing ride.