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2013 Ford C-MAX Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: 2013 Ford C-Max SEL hybrid (non-plugin), 6 month ownership impressions by pharmageek

pharmageek

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Reviewed: 2013 Ford C-MAX

4dr Hatch 141-horsepower 2.0L I4 Hybrid CVT FWD

Why the 2013 Ford C-MAX?

Driving position & visibility

The seating position is comfortable and can be adjusted widely (including good lumbar support) for different drivers. Note that we have the SEL version with electrically adjustable seats. I've driven multiple hours in the seats with no issues. The view out the front sides and rear are good for a modern large hatchback except for the thick A pillars which obscure a little of the road in turns.

Quietness

When poodling around town and keeping things light with the the throttle, the engine switchover is surprisingly unobtrusive. The ride is generally quiet excpet over rough or textured surfaces. There is a degree of wind noise at highway speeds, but it isn't at an objectionable level and is expected for a tallish car of this shape. The only time it gets really loud is when accelerating hard at which point the engine noise really lets itself be known. At least you get a reasonable amount of pickup along with the noise.

Handling

Please note that this is relative to competitive hybrids of which we tested the Prius V. Compared to the V, our C-Max has much firmer handling while maintaining a good degree of ride comfort. I think the best way I can put it is that the C-Max handles curves and turns like a decent, non-hybrid front wheel drive sedan, so confidently enough, though it's no go-cart wannabe.

Interior storage compartments

We've hauled some improbably large stuff in the back with the rear seats folded flat which leaves a nice level load floor. Just picked up an armchair and ottoman and stuffed both in with room to spare. It's hauled over a hundred pounds of scrap metal and lumber without issue. The largest load it's taken was a 7.2 cubic foot chest freezer which just squeeked in. The above only applies to the regular hybrid version of the C-Max. The storage space is seriously impinged in the plug-in Energi version which sticks a larger battery into the trunk space which both reduces storage with the rear seats up and leaves you with an awkward and uneven load floor when the seats are folded down. this was one of the main reasons we went with the regular hybrid.

Fuel economy

With some care, it is not too hard to surpass the revised EPA estimates of 44 city / 39 highway. It particulary shines in city and suburban driving where you can crest 50 mpg on some short trips. In mixed driving, we match the EPA estimate of 40 MPG without paying much attention. While not as great as the Prius, this efficiency was certainly a step up for us and the difference in fuel costs over a year between the C-Max and Prius was not worth the shortcomings we found in the Prius (particularly poor handling and uncomfortable seats).

Why Not the 2013 Ford C-MAX?

Fuel economy

On the down side for fuel economy, cold weather does a number on the MPG as is reported with other hybrid. On short trips (4 miles or less) on a cold start in cold weather with the heater going, expect low 20s for your MPG. This is mitigated over longer trips once the engine has warmed up, but we still get 1-3 MPG under our usual in cold weather for longer trips.

Safety & braking

The braking feel is typical of earlier hybrid with a somewhat grabby initial bite, though we have been able to adjust over time to smooth out the braking. However, the overall breaking power feels somewhat weak unless you go deep into the brake pedal so this leads to longer than expected stopping distances. For me, this was the most difficult adjustment to make in driving the C-Max.

Exterior styling

Let's be honest, I my really like this car, but attractive in a traditional sense it is not. Kind of like a rolling jelly bean. With fender flares. That said, I like that it is form following function, and that's a refreshing bit of honesty in car design in an age of cross-overs trying to look like butch off-roaders or, on the other end of the spectrum, sleek sports cars.

Other Features of the 2013 Ford C-MAX

Depreciation

Now this can be a mixed bag depending on what you're looking for. The C-Max proved less popular than expected, and then was hit with needing 2 revisions to the MPG ratings. This has understandibly made the vehicle depreciate much faster than most other hybrids. Our family drives cars for years and years until the wheels fall off or the cost of maintenance and repairs is more than the worth of the car, so this depreciation meant we picked-up our used C-Max at a little under 3 years old with 29000 miles on it for a little less than half the original MSRP. If you lease or trade in on a more regular basis, this car's depreciation likely will not treat you well.

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Response from priusVowner

8:54 pm February 28, 2017

Hi Pharma,



Almost a year later, how's the reliability? We have a PriusV and are tempted to get a used CMax Energi (goal = drive as many electric miles as possible), but have hesitations about trading one of the most reliable cars on Earth for a Ford. We're not used to having to take cars in for anything but scheduled maintenance -- any issues with your CMax so far? Thanks!

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Response from priusVowner

8:55 pm February 28, 2017

Response from pharmageek

7:26 am March 1, 2017

Hello priusvowner,


Just 2 things out of the ordinary and please note we have the non plug in version so these may not totally apply.



1. It looks like previous work with the vehicle was done incorrectly and bent the cover to the area where the timing chain. Is housed. This led to a pretty bad rattling sound. It took a while to get the parts but once installed, it's been smooth and quiet since.

2. There was a programming update required for all c max vehicles. Ours was one of a minority where it didn't install successfully. It took a several days and the tech calling ford HQ to get it figured out. (Ironically, we ended up with a f-150 as a loaner...) No issues since this was done.

If you're interested in the energi version, I'd recommend a 2014 and up version as a lot of the 2013 kinks were worked out. Do note that the energi version's battery pack cuts into trunk space. There's going to be a big step down in luggage capacity between your current Prius V and the energi.

Other than the above, we've very much enjoyed the c max and don't have any other issues. The ride and interior are great especially in the energi models since they only come fully loaded.

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Response from priusVowner

11:06 pm March 1, 2017

Thanks for the rapid and thorough response! We're definitely aware of the cargo space loss in the Energi, and to avoid 13s. In fact we're tempted to wait it out a couple of years and see how the CMax track record evolves, or if a more reliable brand comes out with something comparable (hearing good things about the Kia Niro, for example -- though I don't like the look). But there's a lot to like about the CMax and I'm glad to hear your positive experience with it, and the lure of driving electric (yet still having range when needed) may sway us.

Thanks again!

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Response from pharmageek

9:09 pm March 2, 2017

Considering what you are looking for, it may be worth your while to check on the Chevy Volt and BMW i3 with range extender. Both get considerably more electric only range than the c-max energi (roughly double if I recall correctly). I have no idea about the reliability and cost in the used market though.

Good luck and happy hunting.

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