Say goodbye to the Ford Escape Hybrid and hello to the Ford C-Max Hybrid (pictured) and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. The two vehicles were built to beat the fuel efficiency of the Toyota Prius v and Toyota Prius Plug-In, respectively, but the C-Max also edges out the Prius v’s sticker price and cargo capacity, making the C-Max vehicles an attractive lineup for the eco-conscious fleet buyer.
The C-Max Hybrid is new to North America but a familiar sight in Europe, where Ford has been selling a version of the C-Max since 2003. Both vehicles will utilize a 2.0-liter inline four, paired with an electric traction motor and an advanced lithium-ion battery pack, to deliver 141 horsepower at 129 lb.-ft. of torque.
Standard equipment will include 17-inch alloy wheels, emergency brake assist, cruise control and fog lamps. Optional add-ons, such as parallel-parking assist, rearview camera and a hands-free rear hatch, will also be available. MyFord Touch will guide the infotainment features and display Ford’s “SmartGauge with EcoGuide” system, which was designed to teach drivers how to maximize fuel efficiency.
The interior and exterior sculpting appear to fall nicely in line with Ford’s current design language. Like its hybrid competitors, the C-Max was designed with function at the fore. But unlike the Prius, Nissan Leaf and, most notably, the Chevrolet Volt, the front and back ends will blend in with the rest of traffic.
Road test reviews are not in yet, but an independent MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, coupled with electric power-assisted steering, is expected to deliver a driving experience on par with the Prius. The interior will be spacious, if nothing else, aided by a high-roof design that accounts for a good amount of the cargo capacity.
Availability of both vehicles will be limited in their first U.S. model year. The C-Max Hybrid will be available in select dealerships in the fall for a starting MSRP of $25,995, a savings of $550 against the base Prius v.
The Energi plug-in will be slower to market and available in the same 19 markets that currently bear the electric Focus. The Energi will start at $33,745, a hair more expensive than the base Prius Plug-In. Both plug-ins qualify for a $3,750 federal tax credit as of press time.