2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid

2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid Review

The C-Max Hybrid is versatile and enjoyable to drive, though fuel economy is underwhelming.
author
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Born from the size-sensitive European market, where even compacts must haul families and cargo, the Ford C-Max packs plenty of capability into its small size. It has a bit of a crossoverlike look to it, but it's more accurate to think of it as a compact wagon or hatchback that's big enough for large tasks yet small and easy to manage for around-town driving.

This generation C-Max has been around for a while, but there's still a lot to like, including refined ride and handling and a comfortable interior done up in high-quality materials. A 2.0-liter engine and electric motor combine to produce 188 horsepower and about 40 mpg in combined city and highway driving. You can also get a plug-in hybrid version with a larger battery called the C-Max Energi.

It's worth noting that the C-Max Hybrid's powertrain doesn't deliver fuel economy as high as the mpg figures from some newer rivals. The latest Prius returns up to 56 mpg, for example, and the Hyundai Ioniq tops out at 58 mpg. Kia's new Niro, which has a body design similar to the C-Max's, also bests it with a 50 mpg rating. For most buyers, though, the 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid should serve well as a versatile and reasonably efficient vehicle.



What's new for 2018

The Ford C-Max Hybrid is unchanged for 2018.

We recommend

For the best bang for your buck, we recommend the 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid's SE trim. It's the entry-level trim, so it's a good way to go if you want to keep your payments low. Ford also offers almost all of the C-Max's higher-end features as options, so you can equip it with more if you want. Either way, we do recommend getting option group 201A, which provides the desirable Sync 3 infotainment system, smartphone integration, a larger 8-inch display, a power liftgate and rear parking sensors.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid is a five-passenger wagon available in two trim levels. The SE is priced for the budget-minded, but it's still very functional. Titanium models feature luxury accoutrements. A plug-in hybrid version, the Ford C-Max Energi, is reviewed separately.

No matter which C-Max variant you buy, it'll come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Combined output is 188 horsepower. Power is then sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

The SE model's list of standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, a 110-volt, household-style power outlet, Bluetooth, voice commands, a 4.2-inch central display screen, smartphone app integration (including Pandora internet radio), and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB interface and satellite radio.

Major options are now grouped into packages, starting with the SE Driver Assist package that bundles a power liftgate, rear parking sensors, and the Sync 3 interface with an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and an extra USB port. The SE Comfort package adds heated mirrors, leather seating upholstery, a power-adjustable front passenger seat and heated front seats. Alternately, go for the Cold Weather package for just the heated mirrors and heated front seats. A panoramic glass roof, keyless entry keypad and a navigation system are available as stand-alone options.

The Titanium model adds foglights, automatic wipers, the heated mirrors and seats, leather upholstery, the power-adjustable front passenger seat, keyless ignition and entry, remote start, ambient lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a premium Sony audio system with nine speakers and HD radio.

The Titanium Driver Assist package includes front parking sensors, a hands-free liftgate, a blind-spot monitoring system and automated parallel parking. The panoramic glass roof, a keyless entry keypad and a voice-controlled navigation system are offered as stand-alone options as well.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2013 Ford C-Max SEL Hybrid (2.0L inline-4 hybrid | CVT automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current C-Max has received some revisions centered around the infotainment system with the addition of Sync 3. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's C-Max Hybrid.

Driving

With its strong acceleration, sporty steering and handling, and confident demeanor, the C-Max Hybrid stands out as a performer in a class otherwise lacking a leader.

Acceleration

The C-Max Hybrid accelerates relatively quickly for a hybrid. In our testing, it accelerated from zero to 60 mph time in 8.1 seconds.

Braking

It produces about average stopping distances for its class, but the nontraditional hybrid braking system takes some practice, particularly when inching forward or back into a parking space.

Steering

Perhaps this isn't a quality most hybrid buyers value, but the C-Max's steering is one of the best in its class: It feels natural, precise, engaged and predictable.

Drivability

With the exception of the idiosyncratic brakes, the C-Max Hybrid behaves very much like a European-flavored wagon in the way it drives — poised and confident.

Comfort

With comfortable seating for four (five in a pinch), a firm but controlled ride, and a remarkably quiet interior, the C-Max Hybrid offers a livable alternative to the numb and lifeless hybrids we've grown to expect.

Seat comfort

The C-Max provides well-contoured and supportive front seats (optionally heated) and comfortable adult-size rear seats. The elevated seating position is similar to a compact SUV's.

Ride comfort

Ride comfort suffers only slightly as the result of its responsive handling. We still prefer the C-Max's sophisticated ride over an isolated and soft suspension.

Noise & vibration

The C-Max's interior is not only uncommonly quiet for a hybrid but also for wagons in general. There's little powertrain noise and even less wind noise than expected.

Interior

With solid construction, eye-catching design and roomy accommodations, the C-Max is a tough act to beat in the interior.

Ease of use

The C-Max provides sound ergonomics and even a couple clever, unexpected features.

Getting in/getting out

With large doors and seat heights somewhere between those of a compact SUV and a tall wagon, the C-Max is easy to access in either front or rear.

Driving position

The battery pack eats up only a slight amount of cargo room, not passenger space, which is generous for adults in all seating positions. Rear-facing child seats are welcome.

Visibility

The C-Max has very good sight lines and outstanding outward visibility, especially out the front.

Quality

We like the C-Max's tight body gaps and solid interior build quality.

Utility

Due to the drive batteries, the C-Max's rear load floor is high. There's only 24.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the rear seats, but you can fold down the rear seats to get a maximum of 52.6 cubic feet of space.

Technology

The C-Max comes with Sync 3, which is an easy-to-use infotainment system that includes Apple or Android smartphone integration. The C-Max lacks the latest driver safety aids, however, and you can only get blind-spot monitoring on the Titanium trim.

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.