From the start Ford has aimed for the 2013 Ford C-MAX to appeal to the Toyota Prius v market, but even though Ford feels that it has the perfect competitor for the Prius, hybrid buyers could say otherwise. But the news is—so far—great for Ford, since the C-MAX outsold the Toyota Prius v in its first full month of sales, 3,182 units to 2,769.
So how great is Ford’s newest hybrid? Ford gave us the keys to a bright blue 2013 C-MAX to find out. For starters the C-MAX is offered in two versions, the C-MAX hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. It features an Ikea friendly hatchback and a overall driving feel that feels closer to a small minivan than the Focus Electric. Don’t let the “minivan” comparison throw you, since its high seating position is a good thing. Compared to the Toyota Prius v, the C-MAX is eight inches shorter, but almost two inches taller.
Under the hood, the C-MAX is powered by a 188-hp hybrid powertrain, that mates a 2.0L four-cylinder engine to an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. It’s EPA rated at 47 mpg in the city and 47 mpg on the highway, while the Prius v is rated at 44 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. One cool feature is that it can reach speeds up to 62 mph in full electric mode.
Driving around Manhattan, the C-MAX had more than enough power to keep up with the speedy cab drivers and it was often hard to tell if it was driving in EV mode. Compared to the Prius, the switch between electric and gasoline powered modes was barely noticeable. It’s overall engine feel also felt stronger than the Prius and under full throttle, the C-MAX’s powertrain was devoid of the sounds we’ve come to expect from other hybrids.
Inside the C-MAX shines thanks to its great interior layout. Four passengers will fit comfortably and with the rear seat up, there’s just over 24 cubic feet of room for all of your stuff. Since the C-MAX is shorter than the Prius v, it’t not surprising that the Prius offers more cargo capacity. The only complaint as with all the new Fords is that all of the tech features may be a bit overwhelming for some. Simple functions like changing the music or adjusting the climate control aren’t always easy.
After over a decade it looks like Toyota has some serious competition thanks to the introduction of the Ford C-MAX and C-MAX Energi models. The C-MAX starts at $25,995, which is considerably lower than the starting price for the Prius v and don’t forget that the C-MAX is not only more powerful than the Prius, but is also more fuel efficient.