Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Z_CNHI News Service

August 28, 2013

Ford C Max hybrid worth a try for the environmentally conscious

Ford has a new car on its hands that does not quite fit any mold.

The C MAX is innovative -- some would say top of its line -- but I found myself wondering just what line it would be.

In some corners, it would be a mini-SUV for its higher perch, and in others a fuel-miserly hybrid that could nearly take on the mighty Prius.

What is obvious is its C MAX Energi status, a gas-electric hybrid with electric plug-in capability to further its power-only reach. This is where things get interesting, or super-sized, in the form of a lithium battery that hogs much of the rear cargo space.

For all of its heft, the 7.6 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery does move the Focus-based C-MAX along, in pure electric power, for about 21 miles says Ford. Maximum speed with electric only is 85 miles per hour.

After the power is drained, which has reportedly been in the 9-14 mile range in actual practice, the C MAX reverts to its 2.0-liter, four cylinder gasoline engine and battery-powered electric motor that combine for 188 horsepower.

The numbers are impressive. If your daily commute is within actual battery range, then the C MAX is for you. It is rated at 100 miles per gallon in energy equivalence stored in the battery, a bit more than the Chevy Volt at 98 and over the Prius at 95.

The zero to 60 mph sprint is also impressive at 8.6 seconds in local testing with all power sources. In pure electric mode testing to 60, the C MAX was quite a bit slower, reaching the mark at over 21 seconds.

A tank of gas and a charged battery will move you along a route of 620 miles, according to Ford calculations. Once the battery is depleted, it will take about 2.5 hours of 220-volt power to fully charge or 7.5 hours with household current.

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