The Ford C-Max Energi is comfortable, responsive to drive and easy to live with. With the right commute, it will save you trips to the pump. An ideal daily driver in many ways. The compromised cargo area and price are the primary hurdles for this small Ford hatchback.
PerformanceThe C-Max Energi steers and brakes with the same poise and responsiveness as other confidence-inspiring Fords. EV mode is fine around town, but Auto mode is the most versatile (the engine stays on stand-by should you need to step on it).
Auto mode engages engine seemlessly at full throttle; 0-60 in 7.8 seconds is quick. EV-only mode is insufficient for freeway merging (0-60 in this mode takes 14.8-seconds).
The C-Max Energi avoids the grabby pedal action of most other hybrids. Feels very natural. Its 125-foot 0-60 mph stop is average for hatchbacks/small SUVs.
The C-Max's steering is one of the best in its class: Feels natural, precise and engaging. Quite similar to other, sporty Fords.
Its eco-friendly tires don't afford much grip and the body leans heavily when cornering, but it is a much better handler than the Prius. Feels connected to the road.
Normal-feeling brakes and steering, and comparatively unobtrusive engine engagement yield a hybrid that doesn't feel alien. Smooth, quiet EV acceleration is a plus.
ComfortWith comfortable seating for four (five in a pinch), a compliant ride and a very quiet interior, the C-Max Energi offers a more refined, livable alternative to the numb and lifeless hybrid you might expect.
The C-Max provides well-contoured and supportive front seats (optional 8-way power, heating) that are mounted high. Rear seat doesn't recline; legroom sufficient for 6-footer.
Ride comfort suffers only slightly as the result of its responsive handling. We still prefer the C-Max's sophisticated, well-damped ride over an isolated and soft suspension.
The C-Max's interior is not only uncommonly quiet for a hybrid, but also for wagons and small SUVs in general. There's little powertrain and even less wind noise than expected.
InteriorExpansive visibility and superb ease of entry/exit make C-Max Energi a great choice for older drivers. Tiny trunk is major drawback. Better than hybrid sedans like Fusion Energi, but much worse than vehicles of similar size and type.
Controls are logically placed and shifter is of a traditional design. Feels less alien than other hybrids. MyFordTouch interface is improving but still complicated.
Large doors, high-mounted seats and very low sill make it extremely easy to get in and out. A great choice for seniors or those with mobility issues.
Palatial headroom everywhere. Abundant legroom up front with 8-way power seats; merely sufficient in the rear. No rear seat recline.
Wide-open, greenhouse-like views forward and to the side, with mostly unencumbered rear view as well. Our tester included optional backup camera.
Pathetic trunk size given its passenger space. Battery halves the trunk height and creates an odd shelf above the folded backseat. OK for groceries. Two suitcases fit length-wise.
ValueIt's hard to do math that makes a plug-in hybrid pay for itself. But if you're determined to own a PHEV, the C-Max Energi presents a solid blend of features, space, build quality and driving experience relative to its competition.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Like other modern Fords, it's built to a high standard. But the elevated price of the plug-in hybrid system makes it only acceptable for a $36,355 car.
Most of your money goes into the hybrid bits, but as-tested features are strong with heated leather and power seats, power liftgate, backup camera, keyless start, navigation, Sony audio.
About $4,500 more than a C-Max Hybrid and has a smaller trunk. You'd be hard-pressed to recoup that money in fuel savings. Reasonably priced for a plug-in hybrid, though.
EPA estimates 100 mpg-e and 43 mpg combined. With a full battery, we got 41.4 mpg on our highway-heavy evaluation loop with 16.7 miles of EV range (mixed city and highway driving).