I’ve become very interested in cars and new technology since we’ve decide to replace our 1995 Ford Aerostar Van. That last time we were in the market for a car was 3 years ago when our son purchased his; a lot has changed since then. The first of which is the addition of affordable hybrid cars.
I had the pleasure of driving one of these cars over the weekend. I participated in a #CMAXDrive event for the Ford Motor Company in California. I was flown to San Francisco where I met up with 15 other bloggers to take part in the 2-day event. It was a chance for us to learn about the C-MAX, the first-ever hybrid-only vehicle line from Ford in North America. The C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid offer the sporty style and performance of a Ford vehicle with the added benefit of leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
C-MAX delivers innovation at every turn with dynamic design, spacious five-passenger seating, technology that connects you, along with efficiency that’s beyond impressive. Smart, versatile and fun.
After a briefing about the features of this new car, we set off on a drive to Pebble Beach.
Ford C-MAX Hybrid: Extended Test Drive
I was paired up with Kathleen from LifeWith4Boys.com. Neither of us knew the area so we were reliant on the C-MAX’s navigation system. We set off confident that the electronic voice and mapping system would get us to our destination. But, along the way we played an Instagram game of BINGO, which led to some loud and boisterous laughing. In fact, we were having so much fun that we missed a key turn and found ourselves headed in the wrong direction!
Thankfully the C-MAX’s navigation system was easy to use and it only took us a few minutes to reroute ourselves (always do this safely and never while driving!). We took a different route from the rest of the teams, but with the assurance of the mapping system, we knew that we would still be arriving to the correct destination and within the designated time.
On the Road with the C-MAX
One thing you’ll notice while driving the Ford C-MAX is that it is quiet. Very quiet. I sometimes had a hard time figuring out if it was running or not. Thankfully there is a system in place for people like me – the car actually tells you it’s ready to be driven. That’s just one of the fabulous features of this high-tech car. It provides feedback on your driving letting you know if you’re saving energy. The navigation gives you traffic information, provides one-button traffic avoidance, and my favorite, it tells you what the speed limit is on the road you’re on.
The dashboard has everything the driver could need within reach. The digital readout can be changed by buttons on the steering wheel to give you trip information, battery details, and even what channel your radio is on.
The car rides amazingly well for a small vehicle. Road noise is average, which is obviously affected by the type of pavement you’re on and the speed at which you’re driving. The sound system has a setting for changing the volume based on your speed which I think is pretty brilliant. The navigation’s voice can be increased, which we did so that we didn’t miss another turn, but once we hit the side streets it seemed like she was screaming at us. We weren’t able to figure out a quick and easy way to turn her down (we tried yelling at her to shut up with no success).
The driver’s seat is very comfortable, though I personally prefer a fabric seat. The headroom is ample, even for this 5’10” woman. The car is compact and every inch of room in the front compartment has been packed with usable space, but I found I was missing a place to put my cellphone and mints. There is a covered storage bin between the two front seats that can hold cellphones with a cable connection inside to sync your phone with the car’s system and other items. Unfortunately, it requires the passenger to remove his/her arm from it to get into it. One small tray or ashtray area for loose chain and small items would be fabulous.
The seatbelt was comfortable and this obese woman had no problems getting in and out of the car or fitting into the driver’s area. There was nothing digging into my thigh or causing me any discomfort at all.
C-MAX Cargo Space
We easily fit our two carry-on suitcases into the back and could have stuffed much more. The lift back opens with a hands-free air kick under the rear of the car and closes with the push of a button. I appreciated not having to yank down the door. Items carried in the lift back are mostly invisible through the windows thanks to coverings, so it felt safe leaving our items in the storage area.
The car seats 5 though it would be a tight fit. The back seat would be best for kids. Someone my size wouldn’t be comfortable for long back there. But for me, the car would spend most of its time with a lone occupant and the backseat would be used for additional carrying capacity. It’s completely comfortable for 2, even on a long drive.
There are so many great things about the C-MAX – the style, the colors, the ride, the navigation, backup camera, and entertainment systems, the fuel economy, etc….but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few things.
The first is the side mirrors. They have a mirror within a mirror which I’m used to, I have them as well on my vehicle. But these are triangular shaped mirrors in the upper/outer corners of the side mirrors and they caused me a few issues (as in I almost hit someone). I found they created blind spots for me, but once I realized that, I was able to compensate and had no problem.
The second issue is we had a malfunction of the nav system. When we started the car after a pit stop, it told us the car was in dealer transport mode and we had to contact a dealer. It didn’t affect the car, except that since we didn’t know how to get to Pebble Beach, we needed the nav system. We called for help and then realized that the nav system can also be brought up in the driver’s dashboard, granted without the capability to reroute or add way stops, but it would get us to our destination so we started off.
When Ford called it turned out we needed to restart the system, which we’d tried in our own way but failed. It turns out to reset the system you have to turn off the car and open the doors. That was it! It came back up and worked fine. It turns out there’s a secret series of buttons to push to get the car into transport mode and only 5 people on the planet know it. Well, now there are 7 though we swear we DID NOT do the series of button pushing required.
The only other things are really minor for most people, but for me they’re almost a deal breaker. Cup holders for one and the USB plugs. Now, I know, these are completely a first world problems, but we bought two large sodas and they barely fit in the holders and worse, it made it almost impossible to get into the console between us. There were cup holders in the doors but the soda wouldn’t fit there. The USB port, which is inside the center console, didn’t recognize my Samsung Galaxy 4 phone which meant I couldn’t charge it. I’m not sure why, but again, a minor annoyance but if I was to purchase the car, it would mean I couldn’t synch my phone for hands free calling.
Overall this is a nice compact car with some real pick-up-and-go for such a small car and a hybrid at that. The keyless FOB is a nice feature but I spent most of my time searching for it. The car is said to get 43 mpg (41 hwy) but my actual mileage came in less. The car can go up to 85 miles per hour in the electric mode and unlike gas engines, this car benefits from braking (it builds up friction which charges the battery) so it does better it stop and go traffic or side roads and we drove mostly freeways.
I’m a fan of this new compact C-MAX Hybrid and love that it’s in the affordable range of $28,365 for the SEL. The C-MAX Energi (all electric) is a bit higher at $32,950. The C-MAX Energi is like a “hybrid-plus” with its plug-in capability. Using the external charge port, you can charge it in just 2.5 hours.
We’ve been a Ford owner since the late 1980’s and the Ford C-MAX is going on the list of possible replacements for our beloved Aerostar. Is a hybrid right for your family? It is mine!
I’ll be sharing more about this amazing weekend in the next few days. Thanks for coming along.
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 171,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln.
I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.