MPG-o-Matic 2013 Ford C-MAX SEL Hybrid Review Summary: While it falls short of the mark in cold weather and high speed fuel-efficiency, the Ford C-MAX dominates on every other front. Controversy aside, the C-MAX rolls a respectable level of performance, a solid ride, plenty of comfort, ample technology, and a remarkably roomy interior in a compelling package. Ford touts that the C-MAX is “the fastest-selling hybrid ever at launch, with 8,030 sales in its first two full months on the market in October and November.”
The 2013 Ford C-Max is powered by a hybrid drive train with a 2.0 liter Atkinson-Cycle inline four cylinder engine and permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor that produces a total of 188 horsepower (HP). The C-Max rides on the global front-wheel-drive (FWD) Focus platform and is fitted with an Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (e-CVT).
The official fuel economy estimates for the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid are 47 city / 47 highway miles per gallon (MPG).
We rolled up over 900 miles in an extended two-week-long test with a Blue Candy SEL review unit, and fell short of the official mileage estimates, scoring an average of 43.1 MPG on the Interstate highway and 41 MPG combined with temperatures ranging from the twenties through the low fifties. Our tests illustrate that the C-MAX, like all hybrids, is most fuel-efficient when operating in warmer temperatures. (See detailed C-MAX gas mileage testing notes.)
While cold weather, winter fuel, and short trips are likely culprits for the lower fuel efficiency, it’s clear that the EPA testing procedures are ripe for an update. Although the media has yet to pick up on the facts, the motivation behind the elimination of city and highway MPG range listings (in fine print) on the 2013 Monroney (window sticker) is a story yet to be told.
Interstate Highway Gas Mileage Testing
- Cruise control set to 68 MPH, HVAC off, windows up: 42.4 MPG
- Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, HVAC off, windows up: 43.8 MPG
- Cruise control set to 60 MPH, HVAC off, windows up: 46.4 MPG
Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the low fifties. Our test vehicle was equipped with the standard 17-inch alloy wheels, clad with P225/50R17 Michelin Energy Saver A/S All-Season tires, and was delivered with just over 4000 miles on the odometer.
Highway driving range is excellent when driven conservatively. The 2013 C-Max Hybrid is fitted with a 13.5 gallon fuel tank and is designed to run on regular unleaded gasoline. The Lithium-ion battery pack is rated at 1.4kWh, while the Coefficient of Drag is rated at 0.30. It’s worth noting that the Ford Fusion Hybrid uses the same hybrid drive train as the C-MAX and is rated at the same 47/47/47 MPG, yet it has a significantly lower Cd at 0.27. This would clearly seem to point out a deficiency in the EPA’s highway testing procedure. It stands to reason that a ten percent difference in drag would be seen in highway speed fuel efficiency.
The four-wheel-disc regenerative ABS braking system uses 13.1-inch vented rotors on the front and 12.2-inch vented rotors at the rear. The C-MAX hybrid tips the scales at 3,607 pounds.
Straight line acceleration is excellent for a hybrid at this price and efficiency level, with sub-eight second 0-60 mile per hour (MPH) runs.
C-MAX trumps the competition when it comes to performance, ride, handling, and comfort. Quite simply, it’s a joy to drive. There’s plenty of oomph when needed and the transition between electric and gasoline propulsion is smooth. The steering wheel has a certain Ford heft.
The C-MAX’s hybrid system is at its best in the city, on the back roads and below 62 MPH. Don’t expect 47 MPG at 75 MPH. The system wasn’t designed to deliver that.
The cabin is roomy and the tech is well done. While some folks may have qualms with the MyFordTouch interface, it gave us no reasons to grumble, although it doesn’t seem to respond well to curse words.
While our tester was equipped with the optional nine-speaker Sony system, a six-speaker audio system with Microsoft Sync voice control, Sirius/XM satellite radio and Bluetooth support is standard.
The C-MAX SEL is packed with power outlets and media integration. A 110 outlet can be found at the back of the center console, with 12-volt outlets located in the cargo area, at the base of the dash, and inside the center console … where you’ll also find the audio input jack, a pair of USB jacks, and a pair of digital media card slots.
Leather upholstery, and five-level heated front bucket seats with ten way power adjustment and two-way power lumbar support are standard in the SEL model. The passenger front bucket seat has four-way manual adjustment.
The rear seats are rather spacious for a small vehicle, with a generous 39.4 inches of headroom and 36.5 inches of legroom. The center armrest is standard. A hidden compartment can be found just behind the driver’s seat.
The cargo area is quite accommodating, with 24.5 cubic feet of cargo area behind the split 60/40 second row seats and 52.6 cubic feet of storage with the second row seats folded completely flat.
The automatic tail gate is sure to be a hit with folks that struggle finding their keys in the parking lot of the big box store. With the proximity key within range, a wave of the foot under the back bumper opens the rear hatch like magic. While mom might fall in love with this feature, we found the hatch to be occasionally sticky.
All-in-all, the C-MAX hybrid delivers a solid ride and gutsy performance that’s simply not found in its chief competitor, the Prius V. While it may fall short on winter fuel efficiency (and at higher highway speeds), that’s par for the course with hybrids. Spend a bit of time behind the wheel, and it’s easy to see why the mighty little C-MAX is such a big hit.
In the second part of the video review, we dive into the different modes of the C-MAX’s Smart Gauge and show a typical morning drive, beginning with a cold start.
Michigan Assembly Plant
Bumper-to-Bumper – 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain – 5 years/60,000 miles
Safety Restraint System – 5 years/60,000 miles
Rust Perforation – 5 years/unlimited miles
Roadside Assistance – 5 years/60,000 miles
Hybrid battery/component – 8 years/100,000 miles (10 years/150,000 miles in CA and other CA Emissions states)
2013 Ford C-MAX SEL Hybrid Review
– by Daniel Gray
December 27th, 2012
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