The Car Connection Ford C-Max Energi Overview
The Ford C-Max Energi, introduced as a 2013 model, is the plug-in hybrid variant in the Ford C-Max range of five-door hatchback hybrids. It competes most closely with the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, although it has a longer electric range and a more conventional interior than the plug-in version of Toyota's most popular and recognizable Prius hybrid.
The tall five-door C-Max Energi model is built on the same underpinnings as the Ford Focus compact sedan and hatchback, but shares its plug-in hybrid powertrain and battery pack with the larger Ford Fusion Energi mid-size four-door sedan. The two cars are Ford's first-ever plug-in hybrids, and each offers 21 miles of electric range--according to EPA ratings--after which the vehicle operates as a conventional hybrid until it can be plugged in to recharge again.
Road tests indicate that at least 15 miles of electric range at speeds up to 62 mph is achievable, though like all plug-in hybrids, the C-Max Energi will switch on its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine if absolute maximum power is demanded, especially at higher speeds. The engine is paired with Ford's hybrid system, including a pair of electric motor-generators that power the vehicle and recharge the battery. The combined total power output of the engine and drive motor is 188 horsepower, which is a substantial 54 hp more than the less powerful Prius powertrain, which switches on its engine more often. When operating as a conventional hybrid, the EPA says the C-Max Energi gets a combined 43 miles per gallon--though road tests indicate real-world results may be closer to 35 to 40 mpg.
For more details on the car, including options, prices, and specifications, read our full review of the 2013 Ford C-Max range.
The main difference in the Energi plug-in version of the hybrid C-Max is its larger lithium-ion battery pack, which holds 7.6 kilowatt-hours of energy against the hybrid's 1.4 kWh. The larger pack is sited under the rear load deck, providing a remarkably high load floor and reducing cargo volume notably--the one drawback to the family plug-in vehicle. Aside from the charging port on the left-front fender behind a circular door, some "Energi" badges, and a few additional screens in the vehicle infotainment system, the Energi and Hybrid models of the C-Max are remarkably similar.
Both sit tall, with a large front grille and a triangular rear roof pillar. Much of the interior will be familiar to drivers of the Focus, including the sweeping lines, soft-touch surfaces, and chrome accents. The interior compares favorably to that of the Prius, whose Space Age styling and somewhat scattershot instrumentation are rendered in hard textured plastics. The driver can configure the full-color gauge and information display behind the steering wheel to show the car's operating data in a variety of ways.
The Ford C-Max Energi is eligible for a $3,750 Federal income-tax rebate for the purchase of a plug-in electric vehicle, unlike the conventional C-Max Hybrid, which has no such Federal incentives. The plug-in C-Max also qualifies for various other state, local, and corporate incentives.