Ford C-MAX Hybrid Challenges Toyota Prius V

By John Addison (updated 8/8/12)


Miles Per Gallon (MPG) Battle for Best Crossover

2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid can now be ordered at a starting price of $25,995, about $400 less than the popular Toyota Prius V.  Both of these exciting crossover SUVs provide plenty of room for 5 passengers and the flexibility to drop the back seat and load more cargo than many traditional small SUVs. Since there will be no 2013 Ford Escape Hybrid, the C-MAX Hybrid will be the logical choice for many current Escape Hybrid drivers.

The C-MAX is a compact hybrid utility vehicle and the company’s first dedicated line of hybrids. The 2013 C-MAX Hybrid will be available this fall with a base price of $25,995. You can get deliveries now for the Prius V with its 42 mpg combined fuel economy, a breakthrough for the crossover driver. The Ford C-MAX Hybrid will also save big-time at the gas station with 47 mpg combined, almost as good as the smaller Toyota Prius Liftback. In fact, the C-MAX Hybrid delivers 47 mpg city and 47 mpg highway. However you drive, you’ll be making fewer trips to the gas station.

Last summer, when we traveled in Spain, I saw the roomy C-MAX drive by. Even without the hybrid drive system that will be available in the U.S., 156,000 Ford C-MAX have sold in Europe where unsubsidized gasoline prices are double the U.S., making crossovers more popular than larger SUVs. Now the U.S. will have the beautiful C-MAX with better fuel-economy than the one sold in Europe.

Ford dealers are starting to place orders for America’s most affordable and fuel-efficient hybrid utility vehicle – the 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid – with innovative technologies such as a hands-free liftgate, spaciousness for five passengers and Ford’s claim that it will be fun to drive.

Room for People, Luggage, Work, School, Play

C-MAX Hybrid is a compact hybrid utility vehicle jam-packed with features and room for five people and cargo.

The vehicle has a high roofline (63.9 inches) offering ample interior space and flexibility. C-MAX Hybrid offers 99.7 cubic feet of passenger space compared with 97 cubic feet in Prius v. The spacious C-MAX Hybrid also provides greater headroom in both front and rear seats than Prius v (41/39.4 inches vs. 39.6/38.6 inches).

For cargo, C-MAX Hybrid has 60/40 split-fold rear seats that easily fold flat with 54.3 cubic feet of space behind the first row and 24.5 cubic feet behind the second row.

Hands-Free Music, Navigation, Liftgate

Ford C-Max SmartguageC-MAX Hybrid features the company’s innovative hands-free liftgate, allowing for quick and easy access to the cargo area without messing with keys. A gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper opens the liftgate when used in combination with a key fob the user keeps in his or her pocket or purse that tells the car it’s OK to engage. The same motion can close the liftgate. Cool!

The vehicle also features the newest version of MyFord Touch that offers multiple ways to manage your phone, navigation, entertainment and climate functions through voice commands, menus accessed through controls on the steering wheel, touch screens, buttons or knobs.

C-MAX Hybrid also offers the next generation of SmartGauge with EcoGuide. The left cluster also shows Brake Coach, a feature that helps drivers optimize their use of the braking system so that driving range can be enhanced through proper braking techniques. In the right cluster, redesigned imagery of green leaves shows overall driving efficiency – as drivers improve their efficient driving, they are rewarded with more leaves. Ford displays have made it easy to improve fuel-economy when driving their hybrid and electric vehicles.

Powersplit Hybrid Electric Drive System for Best Miles Per Gallon

C-MAX Hybrid is powered through the combination of a gasoline engine and a battery-driven electric motor. When powered by gasoline, the C-MAX Hybrid uses the all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine –among the most advanced non-turbocharged four-cylinder powertrains Ford has ever offered.

The electric motor of the C-MAX Hybrid is powered by an advanced li-ion battery system designed to maximize use of common, high-quality components, such as control board hardware that has proven field performance in Ford’s critically acclaimed hybrid vehicles. All new Ford hybrid and electric vehicles will use lithium batteries. To save weight and reduce drive system size, Ford has been more aggressive than Toyota in ending the use of NiMH batteries.

C-MAX Hybrid also offers Ford’s next-generation powersplit architecture that allows the electric motor and gasoline-powered engine to work together or separately to maximize efficiency. The engine also can operate independently of vehicle speed, charging the batteries or providing power to the wheels as needed. The motor alone can provide sufficient power to the wheels in low-speed, low-load conditions and work with the engine at higher speeds.

In the C-MAX Hybrid, the li-ion battery pack is recharged when the gasoline engine is in operation. Further, the regenerative braking system can recapture more than 95 percent of the braking energy that would otherwise be lost, and is able to use that power to help charge the battery. C-MAX Hybrid requires no plug-in charging.

C-MAX Hybrid is being produced at Ford’s Wayne, Mich.-based Michigan Assembly Plant alongside Focus, Focus Electric and Focus ST. It is one of five electrified vehicles Ford plans to produce in North America in 2012. In addition to C-MAX Energi, the other vehicles include Focus Electric, Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.

Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid

No Parking Except EVBy the end of 2012, you will hopefully have the option of buying the C-MAX as either a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. The C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid will follow later this year with better electric-mode fuel economy and overall driving range than the Prius plug-in hybrid.

The C-MAX plug-in hybrid, priced at $33,745, will allow you to drive the first 20 miles on a garage electric charge before engaging a fuel-efficient engine. It may rate over 100 mpg. The C-MAX lives up to its name. It maximizes the cargo and passenger space that can be fit on the popular “C” sized vehicle platform. Like the Focus, the C-MAX is a 5-seater. Drop the back seat and you have much more cargo space than the Focus. The C-MAX Energi will provide tough competition to the Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

Ford’s near-term electrification plan calls for the company to triple production capacity of its electrified vehicle range by 2013 as it builds on a commitment to give fuel-efficiency-minded customers growing selection of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars and crossovers.

The new Focus Electric, C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid are three crucial elements to the plan. Production has started at Ford’s world-class Michigan Assembly Plant of the 2012 Focus Electric, America’s most fuel-efficient five-passenger vehicle that has been certified to offer the equivalent of 110 miles per gallon (MPGe) during city driving, 99 MPGe highway, and 105 MPGe combined.

C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid will join Ford’s electrified vehicle lineup in the second half of 2012. By the end of 2012, one-third of the Ford lineup will feature a model with 40 mpg or more. Ford Hybrid and Electric Choices

Competitive Choices

Prius v Windy RoadToyota Prius V. My test drive of the new Prius V convinced me that you can get 42 MPG with comfort for 5 people and the flexibility to hold the cargo carried in most SUVs. If you need a crossover SUV, you can get the Prius V now without waiting for the C-MAX Hybrid.  Prius V Test Drive and Review

Toyota Prius Liftback is comfortable for 5-passengers. Drop the backseat and you have room for lots of work supplies, 2 mountain bikes, or enough luggage for a month vacation. This classic Prius delivers 50 mpg at a time of high gasoline prices.

Ford Escape SE is an alternative for Ford lovers who want a traditional SUV or want Four-Wheel Drive (4WD). For 2013 models, Ford will not offer the Escape as a hybrid, but will offer fuel economy with your choice of either the available 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine or 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. The Escape SE with 4WD starts around $27,645 and has OK fuel-economy of 25 mpg combined (22 city, 30 highway). The FWD saves about $2,000 over the 4WD SE Model with Eco-Boost and about $5,000 with the base model with lower mileage.

Subaru Impreza offers All-Wheel Drive (AWD), where the Ford C-MAX Hybrid does not. The Impreza is a smaller hatchback than the C-MAX Hybrid and only averages 31 mpg to the C-MAX’s 41 mpg. The Impreza is also $8,000 less than the C-MAX Hybrid with an excellent AWD system for those deal with regular rain and snow driving. Subaru Impreza Review

10 Best Hybrids


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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability.

4 thoughts on “Ford C-MAX Hybrid Challenges Toyota Prius V

  1. DRJJ
    June 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Good to see us getting more fuel eff! Wonder why full size truck sales are up-bigger egos? Also, I’m still sold on the traditional prius-the car & batteries have been bullet proof, 50 mpg safe and reliable! Been burned too many times from Ford! Hope comp from Ford increases Prius discounts, I’m in the market!

  2. Jiro Yamamoto
    June 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Hi John,
    Nice meeting you at the Golden Wheel awards last night. I was reading the above article and was a bit confused by this “Both of these exciting crossover SUVs…” in discussing the CMax Hybrid and comparing it to the Prius V. I don’t think of a Prius as being an SUV. Where you referring to two models of the CMax?

    • John Addison
      June 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

      Good meeting you at Golden Wheels. Although some others would not call these SUVs, I call the CMax and the Prius V (40% more interior space than the classic Prius) as crossover SUVs. With drop-down back seats they have impressive cargo space, or lift the seats and easily seat five. It’s good to see Toyota expand the Prius into a family of hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

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