2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Road Test to NYC

How many gallons of gas did you use on your last trip into the big city?

In this extended video road test, I took a 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi from Central New Jersey into mid-town Manhattan. I experimented with the Energi’s EV Now and EV Later modes to see how it reacted on backroads and Interstate highways, as well as in New York City traffic. The trip started with the battery showing 18 miles of charge. The fifty-odd mile route resulted in a 61 MPG result – easily the most fuel efficient trip I’ve ever taken into NYC.

The C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid has a pure electric range of approximately twenty-one miles when fully charged. While the stated EPA mile per gallon (MPG) estimates are 108 city / 92 highway – compared to 47 / 47 for the standard C-MAX – gas mileage results will always vary, depending on route and distance. 100+ MPGs will only be seen on shorter trips.

The biggest technical differences between the standard C-MAX and the C-MAX Energi are the size of the Lithium-ion battery pack (1.4kWh vs 7.6kWh), the amount of cargo room (behind the second row seat – 24.5 cubic feet vs 19.2 cubic feet, both seats folded 52.6 vs 42.8 cubic feet), and fuel capacity (13.5 gallons vs 14 gallons). In short, you’ll stop for gasoline less frequently and will be able to carry less cargo in the C-Max Energi.

While the 2.0-liter Atkinson-Cycle inline four cylinder engine and Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor Hybrid drivetrain is shared between the two, the driving characteristics are quite different. With shorter drives in the Energi (within the battery pack’s range including highway speeds), you’ll spend most of your time cruising under electric power. The standard C-MAX has a top speed of 115 miles per hour (MPH), while the Energi tops out at 102 MPH (with a projected electric mode top speed of 85 MPH).

The charging time is stated as 7 hours with a 120v outlet and 2.5 hours with a 240v dedicated charger. While I did not have the chance to test the 240v charge time, I found the 120v time to be accurate.

The C-Max Energi’s starting MSRP is $33,345, just shy of five thousand dollars more than the similarly optioned C-MAX Hybrid SEL at $28,365. Some folks might look at the difference in price and assume that it would be difficult to financially justify the added cost.

Spend a good bit of time behind the wheel of both cars and you just might be more prone to go with the plug-in, as the big battery pack brings an increased level of enjoyment to the ride. Think of the difference between choosing an inline four and a smoother V6. Then look at your daily route and routine to see how far twenty miles of pure electric driving can take you.

You’ll score extra points if your place of employment offers electric chargers …

In a best case scenario, that’s one gallon of gas, five days a week, times fifty weeks … or approximately $1000 per year (at $4 per gallon) just on commuting alone. The big question isn’t how much you’ll save on gasoline, it’s how much you’ll spend to charge the battery. If your place of employment provides a free electric charger, that could be worth up to the equivalent of 2 1/2 gallons per week.

C-MAX Energi Pricing Information:

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price: $33,345.00

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