2013 Ford C-Max Trounces Prius V1
During a brief drive from Hollywood to Malibu and back through the Hollywood Hills to Sunset Boulevard, the 2013 Ford C-Max showed what a small hybrid-powered people mover could be. Ford, of course, touted the clear advantages of the C-Max over its designated competitor the Prius V. C-Max has 50 more horsepower. C-Max has 7-miles per gallon better fuel economy through its third generation hybrid powertrain. And, C-Max is priced $1,300 lower than the Prius V. While earlier Ford hybrids had used a similar hybrid system as Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, Ford was clear to state that the C-Max lithium-ion batteries are an in-house development as is the all new CVT (continuously variable transmission).
The C-Max is based on Ford’s C-Platform which also brings us the Focus, Focus EV, C-Max, C-Max Energi and Escape SUV. This platform commonality allows Ford to share costs and components across a wide range of vehicles. The result is that all of these derivatives are dynamically excellent with good ride, sprightly handling and upscale interior materials selections.
C-Max vs. Prius V: The C-Max trounces the Prius V. The C-Max is much more engaging dynamically. The 188-horsepower gives the C-Max outstanding performance for a vehicle in its class. It is certainly quicker than the Prius V. Its chassis dynamics are much sportier than the Prius V. The engine sound is much mellower. When a Ford executive asked what the C-Max had over the Prius V it was hard not to gush… better performance, better dynamics, better interior materials, better visibility, better fuel economy, quieter (C-Max uses three microphones in the car for sound cancellation technology) and less expensive. Overall the C-Max is a very persuasive proposition.
In Prius V’s defense, it has a larger rear seat and more cargo capacity. One downer on the Prius V is the instrument panel. It is a flat uninteresting expanse with a busy center stack that handles all of the driver information functions. On the Ford, the displays have a more conventional layout and the instrument cluster includes MyFord Touch features with a leafy green right hand screen showing how green you are driving.
C-Max in Ford’s Lineup: Focus on the bottom and Escape on the top powered by a variety of four cylinder engines including EcoBoost varieties. Focus can start with a $16,200 for a 4-door sedan and jump to $19,200 for a 5-door hatchback. Topping out a Focus gets you between $25,000 and $26,000 when most of the boxes are checked. The Escape starts at about $22,500 with a old-style 2.5L four-banger and front wheel drive. Check all the boxes on the Escape and you hit the lower-mid-thirties – about $33,000 for a Titanium edition with navigation. That model is powered with a 2.0L EcoBoost 4-cylinder. The C-Max slots right in the middle. Starting at $25,200 for the SE model you can opt up to the SEL model for about $31,000. You can get 40 mpg on the highway with the Focus, 33 with the Escape and 47 with the C-Max. Interesting, if not a bit complicated, pricing and positioning strategy.
C-Max Energi: Later the C-Max Energi plug in hybrid will be introduced. It will have a 20 mile EV range and qualify for California’s white carpool lane sticker for enhanced AT-PZEV vehicles. The C-Max Energi will set you back about $7,750 over the base C-Max for a base price of $32,950. When you add all the stuff you want like navigation, power liftgate, handsfree liftgate and rear view camera you are in the mid-$35,000 range. (All of these prices are without moonroof). When you get the federal tax credit and California rebate for the Energi, it drops the financial burden down to about where the regular HEV C-Max is priced. Plus you get the carpool lane sticker. Ford thinks the C-Max Energi will be the lowest priced way to get into the carpool lane with only one person in the car.