It's sometimes hard to say exactly what kind of car the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid is. Europeans consider it a small minivan--like the Mazda5--while in the States, where no gasoline-only version is sold, it's a five-door dedicated hybrid hatchback. Ford calls it a Multi-Activity Vehicle, but we're not going to be sucked into another acronym, so we'll settle on five-door hatchback--or, if you like, wagon.
The C-Max sits higher than the Focus compacts it's based on, but it shares common Ford design touches, including a large front grille opening meant to tie the C-Max to the appearance of the Ford Focus Electric, the company's only all-electric vehicle. For a tall hatchback, the stylists have done their best to give it flowing lines, including highlighted wheel arches and a slight haunch over the rear wheel.
The exterior lines are nowhere near as racy as the Focus five-door hatchback, but this car serves a different audience: buyers who want the highest gas mileage and a car whose style says it's a hybrid. We're not sure how successful that latter message is, since the C-Max shape isn't nearly as distinctive and iconic as the ultra-aerodynamic Prius profile. Perhaps in time, observers will link the C-Max shape to "hybrid"--but we're not betting the farm on it.
The interior of the C-Max is considerably more stylish and comfortable than the bland exterior. It shares many styling cues with the Focus hatchback and sedan--not surprising, since the cars are built on the same assembly line and use the same compact understructure.
The dashboard's modern styling, soft-touch surfaces, and chrome accents give the C-Max a more upscale look than the hard-plastic interior of the Prius, with its Space Age design and flying-buttress console. The Ford's full-color information display behind the steering wheel--one panel each side of the central speedometer--can be configured to show the car's operating data in a variety of ways, depending what the driver would like to see.