Describing the 2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid isn't easy. Is it a tall hatchback? A small boxy wagon? A fuel-efficient runabout? The answer is a resounding yes.
For its part, Ford calls this European-born compact a "multi activity vehicle." While that MAV acronym is unlikely to catch on, the way the C-Max Hybrid transcends descriptions is a big part of its appeal. The C-Max is really a utility vehicle like a crossover, yet it's been scaled down into a kind of compact wagon that's big enough for big tasks, yet small and easy-to-manage for around-town driving.
Regardless of what label you put on it, there's a lot to like in the C-Max. Refined ride and handling, for starters, not to mention a comfortable interior done up in high-quality materials. To say nothing of its noteworthy fuel economy numbers of up to 40 mpg combined from the same hybrid powertrain seen in the Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan.
If you're looking for comparable alternatives to the Ford C-Max Hybrid, there's always the perennial favorite Toyota Prius. If you're willing to consider a sedan, make a point of looking at the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid.
Even measured against those likable models, however, the 2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid offers a combination of lively handling, a smooth ride and a comfortable, well-equipped passenger cabin that's hard to beat. No matter what you call it.
Every 2016 C-Ford Max Hybrid comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag.
Also standard are daytime running lights and a rearview camera. Also standard are 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. Rear parking sensors are an option on SE models and are standard on the Titanium trim level.
In Edmunds brake testing, the C-Max Hybrid came to a stop from 60 mph in 134 feet, about 10 feet longer than average in its segment.
In government crash tests, the Ford C-Max Hybrid received four out of five stars for overall protection, with four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. The 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 Hybrid is a five-passenger, four-door hatchback/wagon available in two trim levels: SE and the new Titanium. A plug-in hybrid version, the Ford C-Max Energi, 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 seating 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, starting with the SE Driver Assist package which bundles a power liftgate, reverse sensing system (for easier 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 seating 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 seating upholstery. A panoramic glass roof, keyless entry keypad and a voice-controlled navigation system are available as stand-alone options.
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-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, push-button starting, 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-operated 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 as well.
Options 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).
Under the hood, the 2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that’s paired with an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Combined, they send a total of 188 hp to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
In Edmunds performance testing, the C-Max Hybrid went from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. That's quicker than the Toyota Prius and its 9.8-second 0-60 mph sprint.
The Prius bests the C-Max in the fuel economy department, however. According to EPA figures, you can expect 40 mpg combined (42 city/37 highway) from the C-Max compared to 56 mpg combined for the most fuel-efficient Prius Eco model.
On the road, the 2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid delivers strong acceleration for a hybrid, with passing power on par with gasoline-only competitors. The gasoline-electric powertrain's ability to run in all-electric mode delivers quiet operation and above-average fuel economy.
Even more appealing is the way the C-Max feels from behind the steering wheel. Ford engineers have managed to create a suspension that balances above-average ride comfort with responsive handling. And though the driving dynamics are neither luxury-car cushy nor sports-car zippy, the C-Max Hybrid manages to split the difference in a way that makes it both more refined and more engaging than a number of hybrids we've driven.
Inside the cabin, the 2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid boasts a surprisingly quiet interior that's on par with those seen in other highly regarded Ford models, which is to say it gets high marks for both design and quality of materials. Storage is another strength, thanks to the front console, an overhead console and beneath the rear floor.
Front seats are comfortable and supportive, and the elevated, crossover-style driving position offers a more sweeping view compared to most small wagons or hatchbacks. Rear seat passengers don't get shortchanged either, thanks to the interior's abundant head- and legroom.
Controls are well-placed and generally easy to operate, the exception being those for the base SE model's standard audio system with its smallish 4.2-inch display. The new Sync 3 interface that's standard on the Titanium trim level is a definite improvement, with its 8-inch touchscreen that supports smartphone-like swipe and pinch-to-zoom gestures.
In the schlepping department, the C-Max Hybrid offers more cargo room than a typical sedan or hatchback but less than larger wagons and small crossover SUVs. Because the battery pack located beneath the floor of the cargo hold takes up some space, there's only 24.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the rear seats. Folding down those seatbacks opens up 52.6 cubic feet of space.
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.