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2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid (Review)

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Ford is out to take on the hybrid/ electric car segment with the introduction of several new models like the C-MAX, C-MAX Energi and Fusion hybrids. Toyota has dominated the hybrid segment for over 10 years with the Prius, but has some real competition finally arrived? This fall the 2013 Ford C-MAX and C-MAX Energi arrive, which are Ford's direct competitors to the popular Prius. Ford makes it no secret that it has set the Prius as its target, but did it succeed?

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Just like the Prius, the 2013 C-MAX is only offered with a hybrid powertrain, well at least in the U.S. The C-MAX shares its platform with the Ford Focus, but its taller dare we say "minivan-like" profile provides the C-MAX with a roomy interior and enough room to pack a weekend's worth of shopping bags. Compared to the Toyota Prius v, the C-MAX is a bit shorter, but is also taller and wider, which provides a larger interior. Five passengers will easily fit in the C-MAX and thanks to its taller seating position, it's quite comfortable.

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Under the hood the C-MAX is powered by a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle, 2.0L four-cylinder engine that is mated to an electric motor and a CVT. The hybrid powertrain's combined output of 188 horsepower is definitely noteworthy, considering it generates 54 more horsepower more than the Prius v. More power does not necessarily mean faster trips to the gas station either, since the C-MAX hybrid is rated at 47 mpg in the city and 47 mpg on the highway, which is better than the Prius v, which is rated at 44 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Ford also likes to point out that the C-MAX hybrid can also reach speeds up to 62 mph before the gas engine takes over.

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How does it drive? Thanks to its total 188 horsepower, the C-MAX packs more than enough power to say goodbye to the notion that all hybrids are slow. Anyone who's ever tried driving around Manhattan knows how scary it can be and how everyone seems to "floor it" once the light turns green. The C-MAX never felt under powered and its hybrid powertrain switches between electric and gas engine modes seamlessly. At times it didn't even feel like we were actually in a hybrid... Try saying that in the Prius.

Throughout our drive the C-MAX was a competent small car that easily swallowed all of the road's imperfections, but also wasn't a complete bore to drive. One negative that we did notice is that we only managed to average around 37-38 mpg, which is well below the 47 mpg EPA rating. Luckily if you want to stay away from the gas station even longer, Ford offers the plug-in hybrid version of the C-MAX, the C-MAX Energi that can travel up to 20 miles in EV mode and up to 550 miles on a single tank of gas.

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Since Ford hopes to steal hybrid buyers from Toyota, its also priced the C-MAX very aggressively with a starting price at $25,995, which is less than the Prius v. If you choose the top C-MAX model, you can expect a price tag around $33,000. For now the C-MAX is a great family vehicle that will finally give the Prius some true competition. The C-MAX even outsold the Prius v in its first full month of sales, which is definitely something that Ford can celebrate. Now we'll have to wait and see how Toyota responds with the next Prius, which is not too far away...

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