Look between the lines
From some angles, the 2012 C-Max is easily mistaken for the 2012 Ford Focus that will be built in Michigan and in showrooms early next year. It's all in the front-end treatment. The C-Max has cat-eye headlamps, a pair of geometric air intakes stacked atop each other at the nose, and more angular fog-lamp cutouts to send a dynamic visual message. Down the sides, it sweeps upward at the shoulders, over semi-circular wheel arches and into a more conventional minivan back end that has shades of Subaru Impreza Wagon in its tailgate angle. A slash across the rear quarter panels adds detail, and gives the dual sliding side doors a long track to retract. Big, tapered taillamps pick up some of the front-end's appeal, giving the C-Max some lightness where minivans typically get tall, thick and overly square.
The C-Max interior cues up all the shapes and textures seen in the 2012 Focus at auto shows, and fits and feels top-notch. Ahead of the driver, cut-tube gauges stare back from a relatively low position, leaving the big glass areas wide open for great visibility. The dash gets deep in the typical MPV way, but the plastics only get hard and shiny very close to the glass, where hands can't touch them regularly. The steering wheel hosts paired circles of rocker switches that give easy access to vehicle functions. Across the dash, a big shield of audio controls and an LCD screen lays back, braced by hockey sticks of metallic trim that bank the climate controls. You've seen some of the same elements at work in the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, and it's just as well-executed in the C-Max.