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2015 Ford C-MAX Energi

Big Apple, Here We Come!
2015 Ford C-MAX Energi

The first thing, yes, the very first thing I noticed after pressing the start button on my Ford C-MAX Energi test car (let’s just call it C-MAX from hereon) was the gauge on the far right of the instrument cluster which proudly announced “502 mi Range.” Wow! I could have driven to New York City non-stop (well, except for the inevitable bathroom breaks). Now that’s something to write about.

Yet I chose Ford’s compact hybrid because I hardly ever see anything written about it. In my world it’s flying under the radar of publicity which seems to follow the Toyota Prius whenever it does so much as sneeze, if you’ll pardon the metaphor.

For the record, there are two C-MAX models: the C-MAX Hybrid, and the C-MAX Energi. Both are powered by a 2.0L I-4 gasoline engine and an 88kW electric motor which provide a combined 188 hp, while shifting is done via a continuously variable transmission. The difference between the Hybrid and the Energi? The Hybrid recharges its lithium-ion battery while the gasoline engine is in operation, and also through an über science project known as regenerative braking. The Energi model also gives you the option of a plug-in recharge—about seven hours using a standard 120V home outlet, or in just 2.5 hours via a home charging station. Be aware though, that the battery pack in the Energi does cut down the usable cargo capacity. The test car was EPA-rated at a combined 88 mpg city/highway using the gas/electric powertrain combination, and at 38 mpg using the gas engine only should you run out of charge.

We always talk about styling because, hey, you spend more time looking at your car than you do driving it, so don’t you buy no ugly car! I like the looks of the C-MAX. It’s proportionate; nothing like some odd-looking car of the future. It has a tall roof and relatively short overall length, yet isn’t so narrow that it looks like it will tip over going around a corner. The 17-inch wheels fill the fender openings nicely, while the front and rear overhangs are short. Ford’s corporate grille shape is prominent in the front while the rear is a pleasant combination of the Escape and the Focus.

The interior is roomy in both the head and legroom departments front and rear. I fit fine in the back seat, but if you’re putting three people back there hopefully one of them is a runway model. The dash is well laid out, but the audio touchscreen is too much of a distraction to use while driving. If you can’t feel it you have to look at it, and that means your eyes have to leave the road. The manufacturers need to come up with a better, safer-to-use system. As I said, the rear cargo area is diminished somewhat by the battery pack, but is still useful and easily accessible. To make things easier you can order Ford’s handsfree liftgate option which opens the rear hatch with a wave of your foot.

The drivetrain is very capable... and very quiet. As Towne Ford’s Ben Indelicato pointed out, some folks have a hard time realizing the engine is running after starting it up, but luckily for them there is an indicator on the dash which pronounced “ready to drive.”

My drive took me through Orchard Park and Hamburg (I forgot there was a Bills’ game that day—ugh!) on all sorts of roads. The quietness of the drivetrain also came through at highway speeds, while the C-MAX handled the backroad curves relatively flat.

Pricing for the C-MAX Energi starts at $31,770 (the base Hybrid SE starts at $24,170). Options on the test car included the premium audio and navigation package (Voice-Activated Navigation System with integrated SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Travel Link which includes a 6-month complimentary subscription; Sony® Sound System with 9 speakers; and an HD RadioTM with iTunes tagging. The car also had a $395 Ruby Red paint job (I’m still not sure why some colors cost so much), and stainless door scuff plates. With delivery, the bottom line came to $34,380, to which a frugal friend of mine said, “That’s not bad.”

No. No it’s not.

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