The Car I Learned About Today: The 2013 Ford C-Max
Photo: Ford Motor Co.
Of the traditional "Big 3" historically American car manufactures, I'm not typically a Ford or Dodge/Chrysler fan. So there's some irony that a previous "Car I Learned About Today" was the new Dodge Dart, and now I am writing about the Ford C-Max Hybrid.
With the name C-Max, Ford is apparently trying to market this mini-van to lonely women. There was going to be a 7-seat, Limousine-Injected version called the Ford C-Li-Max, but it is not available in the United States -- No -- Seriously -- OK, I'm making up the part about Limousine-Injected, but a 7 seat version is available in some other countries. Here in the US, your friendly Ford dealer can't help you with the longer, heavier, Grand C-Max. At best, he can help you attain a regular C-Max.
Outside, the Ford C-Max Hybrid is nothing to get excited about. It kinda looks like a Prius-V with a case of edema.
A quick fling with the C-Max is going to be more fun than it would be with some of it's more attractive hybrid cousins, but we're still talking about a mini-crossover here. 0-60 times are in the high 8 seconds. This is better than the 10+ seconds for a Prius-V, and not bad for any cheap, mini-crossover. The sensation is heightened by the feeling that all of that 0-60 performance is provided by an torquey electric motor, not the 2.0L petrol engine. After the first few MPH of hard acceleration, the Prius, or most available Hybrids, would essentially stop being hybrids, and the rather conventional petrol engine would do all the heavy grunting.
So why does the C-Max rely so much on the electric motor? Well it has to do with the way that 2.0L 4-cylinder petrol engine is designed. It's purposely designed to have a poor Horsepower to Displacement ratio. So why would anyone in their right mind purposely make an engine with a poor Horsepower to Displacement ratio? I didn't say anyone in their right mind made the engine, I said Ford made it. Although not technically 100% correct, they call it an Atkinson Cycle engine. In actuality it's a fairly normal petrol engine, but they purposely mess up the valve timing to produce an engine that has less horsepower, but has lower emissions at mid-power. The hybrid system's electric motor makes up for the less virile 4-banger.
So does this arrangement really provide satisfaction to the tree huggers? Well, this is the subject of some debate. Published reports show that the Ford C-Max Hybrid misses the advertised 47 MPG rating by as much as 10 MPG. Now to be fair, there is always a lot of debate in the MPG rating of Hybrids, but a real world 37 MPG is not that great.
There are plenty of European Diesels with just as much room inside, more comfort, and better handling that get economies in the 37 MPG range. Yes, you need to put diesel fuel in them (which costs a bit more), but you don't need to worry about batteries wearing out.
Speaking of batteries wearing out, Ford gives you a 8 Year/100,000 mi. warranty on the hybrid system, including the batteries, but it only covers battery failure. It does not cover normal degradation, or the loss of capacity that all current batteries experience.
So if your experience with the C-Max is anti-climatic when the relationship is just starting, trust me, it's not going to get better with age.
"The Car I Learned About Today" is a regular feature on Carcynic. To find more articles in this series, use the Search Box on the left, or try this canned search.