2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Los Angeles, August 2012Enlarge Photo
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi
The most important new green model of the year may be the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid.
It's Ford's first-ever "dedicated hybrid," meaning it's a body style not shared with a conventional gasoline vehicle (at least in the U.S. market), and its 47-mpg EPA combined rating comes to within a few percent of the class-leading 50 mpg of the Toyota Prius.
And, frankly, in many ways the hybrid 2013 C-Max is a nicer and more pleasant vehicle to drive than the Prius.
Ford is pitching the C-Max against both the well-known Prius Liftback and the new-for-2012 Prius V wagon model.
The 141-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and electric drive motor put out a combined maximum of 188 hp, which is 54 hp more than the powertrain in either Prius model.
The C-Max has more room for people and luggage than the hatchback Prius, but better performance and higher gas mileage than the somewhat underpowered Prius V.
And Ford has priced it reasonably: The base price is $25,995 (including delivery). That's $1,200 higher than the most basic Prius Liftback, but $1,300 lower than the lowest-line Prius V wagon.
There will also be a C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid model to be launched early next year. It's the same car, but with a larger battery pack that can be plugged into the wall to recharge.
That will give the plug-in C-Max an electric range up to 20 miles, and the five-person seating and cargo space that the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car--with its 38-mile electric range--can't match.
The C-Max is one of two pairs of hybrids that promise to put Ford back into the hybrid game, and offer fresh competition for the four-member Toyota Prius hybrid family.
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, New York CityEnlarge Photo
The second pair of Ford hybrids to launch for 2013 are versions of its all-new and very stylish Fusion four-door sedan.
The previous Fusion Hybrid, sold from 2010 through 2012, handily beat its hybrid sedan competitors--the Camry Hybrid and Altima Hybrid--in EPA gas-mileage ratings.
Now, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid looks set to do the same.
Like the C-Max Hybrid, it's rated at 47 mpg--and that rating applies to city, highway, and combined cycles, meaning it should deliver consistent efficiency regardless of how you use it.
The Fusion Hybrid uses an identical powertrain to the C-Max, a 141-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an electric drive motor for a maximum combined power of 188 hp.
And both new Ford hybrids also use a lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk.
We briefly drove the new 2013 Fusion Hybrid, but our short New York City drive route didn't give us any useful data on real-world fuel efficiency. For that, we'll have to wait for a full test drive later on.
The hybrid Fusion, which hasn't yet reached dealers, will also gain a related model next year, when the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid launches in the spring.
It too will offer up to 20 miles of all-electric range, and its most direct competitor is likely to be the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid (see below).