2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, Marin County, CA, Nov 2012Enlarge Photo
Ford proudly touts the C-Max Energi’s projected range of 620 miles, among the highest for any non-diesel passenger car. The plug-in Prius, more than one Ford person noted, delivers a mere 541 miles.
Real-life experience tells us that few people—and almost no families with kids—actually manage to travel six to nine hours without stopping. Still, the less filling up, the better.
Active noise cancellation
Just like the C-Max Hybrid, the plug-in C-Max Energi uses active noise cancellation that broadcasts sound waves through the door speakers to counter engine noises that customers disliked. That lets Ford run the engine at lower, more economical speeds—also known as “lugging’—that would otherwise generate noises customers react adversely to.
That clever electronic masking works, assisted by thick side glass, an acoustic glass for the windshield, and upgraded sound insulation in a variety of places throughout the vehicle. Ford also focused extensively on reducing wind noise and improving body sealing.
The result is a much quieter, more restful hybrid driving experience than in the often-strained-sounding Prius. The C-Max 2.0-liter gasoline engine still howls under heavy loads from time to time, but it’s tolerable and somehow sounds further away than just a foot or so ahead of the driver’s feet.
Cheapest plug-in hybrid?
Ford’s effective pricing is aided by a larger Federal income-tax credit than the Prius Plug-In Hybrid earns. Its larger battery—7.6 kWh versus the 4.2 kWh in the plug-in Prius—not only delivers longer electric range but also qualifies for a $3,750 tax credit (for buyers who qualify). The Prius plug-in gets only $2,500.
The base C-Max Energi stickers at $33,745, while the plug-in Prius base model lists at $32,710. That means that Ford can claim a “net price” that’s $200 $400 lower for the base versions of both vehicles.
The plug-in hybrid C-Max costs $4,750 more than a C-Max Hybrid with similar equipment, though Ford used “net pricing” to say that a C-Max Energi model was only $1,000 costlier than the comparable C-Max Hybrid SEL after the $3,750 Federal incentive.
Equipment differences in the Energi version, compared to the Hybrid, include standard electric heated seats, a high-capacity electric heater, and that lower final-drive ratio.
Born in the USA
For buyers who care about where their car is built, the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi is the first plug-in hybrid car built in the United States.
In fact, Ford will export the plug-in C-Max to Europe from its U.S. plant, although diesel and gasoline versions of the C-Max (not offered here) have been built in Europe for many years.
Both the Energi and Hybrid versions of the C-Max are built in the Wayne, Michigan, assembly plant that also produces the Focus compact sedan and hatchback, and the Ford Focus Electric battery electric car.
The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the upcoming 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid are built in Japan, however.
Ford provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable High Gear Media to bring you this first-person drive report.