Plug-in hybrids offer extended-range electric-only motoring compared to run-of-the-mill conventional hybrids thanks to their gasoline-electric hybrid powertrains that include a larger battery pack. By plugging one in, a driver can replenish the car's� electric-only driving range, thereby giving him or her the ability to stretch a tank of gas a very long way. One of the most notable entries in this relatively new model segment is the 2017 Ford C-Max Energi.
We say most notable because this compact hybrid comes in the shape of a tall wagon, which gives it an added dose of everyday utility. The Ford C-Max Energi also bears the distinction of being one of the more satisfying plug-in hybrids from a driver's perspective.
What sets the C-Max Energi apart from the C-Max Hybrid, its traditional hybrid twin, is a larger battery pack that allows the vehicle to travel up to 19 miles on battery power alone. Once the initial electric charge is used up, the Energi reverts to familiar gasoline-electric hybrid operation. In this mode,the regenerative braking system recharges the battery sufficiently to deliver electric-only operation at parking lot speed while the 2.0-liter gasoline engine powers the vehicle at higher speed. In this latter mode, the C-Max Energi returns EPA fuel economy estimates of 39 mpg combined.
In terms of the driving experience, the C-Max Energi offers a number of advantages over most hybrids, including lively acceleration, responsive handling, a composed ride and spot-on steering feel. At the same time, the Energi’s larger, heavier battery imposes some liabilities compared to the C-Max Hybrid, including less cargo capacity, reduced overall fuel economy in conventional driving, and a higher price tag.
Though the plug-in hybrid segment is still in its toddler years, there are several alternatives to the Energi worth considering. The 2017 Chevrolet Volt has significantly more all-electric range, though its lower roofline loses practicality points when compared to the Ford C-Max. The new 2017 Toyota Prius Prime hatchback offers slightly better all-electric range than the C-Max Energi, as well as dramatically better fuel economy numbers in traditional hybrid mode. For those who’d prefer a traditional sedan design, the Ford Fusion Energi and Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid are also worth a look.
We think the 2017 Ford C-Max Energi's combination of performance, comfort, practicality and fuel economy make it a solid choice among plug-in hybrids.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Ford C-Max Energi include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver-side knee airbag.
Also standard are daytime running lights and a rearview camera. Rear parking sensors are an option on SE models and are standard on the Titanium trim level. A feature called 911 Assist, which when paired to your smartphone can automatically call for emergency services in case of airbag deployment, and MyKey, which allows owners to set certain speed and stereo volume parameters for valets or teen drivers, are also standard.
In Edmunds brake testing, the C-Max Energi came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, which is a bit longer than average for its segment.
In government crash tests, the 2016 Ford C-Max Energi received four out of five stars for overall protection, with four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. We expect the functionally identical 2017 to perform the same. The closely related C-Max Hybrid received the best possible rating of Good in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's moderate-overlap front-impact, side-crash and roof strength tests, as well as a Good rating for its seats and head restraints (whiplash protection). The C-Max Hybrid received the second-highest score of Acceptable in the IIHS' small-overlap front-impact test.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Ford C-Max Energi is a five-passenger, four-door wagon-style vehicle available in two trim levels: SE and Titanium. A non-plug-in version, the Ford C-Max Hybrid, is reviewed separately.
The SE model's list of standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, variable intermittent wipers, a rear spoiler, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, a 10-way power driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, a rearview camera, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, the Sync voice command system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, smartphone app integration (including Pandora internet radio), and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio input jack and a USB interface.
Major options are now grouped into new packages. The SE Driver Assist package bundles a power liftgate, reverse warning sensors to expedite parallel parking, and the new Sync 3 interface with an 8-inch touchscreen. The SE Comfort Package adds heated outside mirrors with puddle lamps, leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat and heated front seats. A Cold Weather package includes heated outside mirrors, heated front seats and cloth upholstery. Stand-alone options include a panoramic glass roof, keyless entry keypad and a voice-controlled navigation system.
The Titanium model adds foglights, rain-sensing wipers, heated outside mirrors with puddle lamps, chrome exterior trim, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, a 10-way power front passenger seat, heated front seats, push-button start, remote start, ambient lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, and a premium Sony audio system with nine speakers and HD radio.
The Titanium Driver Assist package includes front parking sensors, a hands-free power liftgate, a blind-spot monitoring system and automated parallel parking. The panoramic glass roof, keyless entry keypad and voice-controlled navigation system are offered as stand-alone options here as well.
Option packages for both trim levels include Cargo Management (a cargo net and a soft, foldable cargo organizer) and Interior Protection (all-weather floor mats and cargo protector).
Power for the 2017 Ford C-Max Energi comes from the combination of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor fed by a 7.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Together they send a total of 188 horsepower to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The battery pack has considerably more electrical capacity than the one in the standard C-Max Hybrid, and this allows the Energi to travel up to 19 miles on electric power alone. With a 240-volt charging station, fully recharging the battery takes only about 2.5 hours. Charging from a standard 120-volt wall outlet extends the time to at least five hours.
In Edmunds testing, a Ford C-Max Energi accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, which is a quick time for a hybrid, plug-in or otherwise. It’s also a slightly quicker result than the C-Max Hybrid thanks to the plug-in's sustained use of its electric motor.
Once the C-Max Energi's battery-powered electric range is exhausted, the vehicle operates like the standard C-Max hybrid. EPA fuel economy for the C-Max Energi checks in at 39 mpg combined in this regime.
Driving the 2017 Ford C-Max Energi is a more satisfying experience than many other hybrids thanks in part to the plug-in system, which delivers 19-mile electric-only driving range, which is practical for most short-range trips (not to mention an overall range of more than 500 miles between fill-ups). More important, the hybrid powertrain gives the C-Max Energi relatively strong acceleration, a quality that is useful while merging into traffic or while carrying a full load.
Although its larger battery pack makes the C-Max Energi feel somewhat less nimble than its traditional hybrid sibling, this vehicle still feels reassuringly composed on the road. Responsive steering adds to this feeling of confident handling. The suspension also delivers an overall pleasant, European-style ride quality that's compliant but never overly cushy.
Step inside the 2017 Ford C-Max Energi and you’ll find a handsome interior that's noteworthy for its high-quality materials, which lend an ambience of quiet composure to the driving experience.� Comfortable front seats offer a slightly higher driving position than most wagons and hatchbacks, and this design detail makes for an expansive view of the road ahead. Rear seats also offer surprisingly good head- and legroom.
Controls are well placed and easy to operate. The Sync 3 system offers improved voice controls, a revised menu structure and an 8-inch touchscreen with smartphone-like swipe and pinch-to-zoom gestures, and it's a significant improvement over the old Sync with the MyFord Touch interface.
The interior features numerous storage cubbies, including the center console and bins beneath the floor in front of the rear seats. Otherwise, space is somewhat limited because of the large battery pack located beneath the floor of the cargo hold. To put this into numbers, there's 19.2 cubic feet of stowage behind the rear seats. This expands to 42.8 cubic feet with those rear seatbacks folded down, though it should be noted that doing so doesn’t create the flat load floor you might expect. To put these measurements into perspective, the C-Max Energi offers a whopping 25 cubic feet less overall cargo capacity compared to other small hybrid wagons or crossovers such as the Toyota Prius V.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.