North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Z_CNHI News Service

August 28, 2013

Ford C Max hybrid worth a try for the environmentally conscious

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Driving the C MAX can be a lot of fun, especially if you are determined to save the planet. With dash controls you can lock in electric only, hybrid only or auto EV, its normal driving mode mixes the best of both worlds.

There are all sorts of dashboard graphics that provide incentive for staying green, with pedal pressure and the use of regenerative braking showing up in the number of green leaves that grow as you save more energy.

The five-passenger SEL model can get pricey, however, with options bringing it to the high $30s, not counting a $3,750 federal tax credit that helps lower the final bill.

Interior space is terrific with a high roofline to accommodate tall people. If there are fewer occupants, the rear seats can be folded to produce 43 cubic feet of cargo space that drops to 19 with the seats upright.

With the power liftgate up, the rear deck storage above the battery will handle 3-4 plastic shopping bags full, creating the only negative aspect of the C MAX Energi model.

One way to get around this is to buy the regular C MAX, without the plug-in, and bank the $4,000 in initial savings.

Both models include lots of standard equipment including blind spot mirrors, 17-inch aluminum wheels, dual climate controls, My Ford Touch controls, push button start and 10-way power driver's seat.

The Energi handles well on the road with little sense of which power mode is at work. The cabin is fairly quiet under acceleration with the continuously variable transmission seamlessly moving the front-wheel drive, 3,850-pound car.

Fuel economy with a tank of gas came in just over 38 miles per gallon with the hybrid engine.

You will be seeing a lot more battery powered, hybrid motors and tweaked gasoline engines, sleeker sheet metal tuned with aerodynamics, all working toward a Corporate Fuel Average Economy of 54 miles per gallon by 2025.

If energy conservation is on your short list of desirable features, try out the new C MAX Energi car by Ford.

Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist with CNHI News Service. Contact him at editor@ptd.net.

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