We approached our first extended stay with a 2013 Ford C-Max Energi with both immediate interest and long term anticipation. The C-Max Energi is of course based on the C-Max wagon that is sold throughout the world in a number of varieties, but in hybrid form only here in the states. The Energi differs little from the hybrid version, but big things often happen because of little changes.
The primary one, naturally, is that the Energi functions as a fully electric vehicle until you exhaust the high voltage battery, and then it starts exhausting gases from its I4 engine and operating as a full-hybrid, just like the regular C-Max. In order for this to happen there are a few hardware changes, of course; the major one being a larger 7.6kWh lithium-ion battery. And it also gets a larger fuel tank, additional cooling, and changes to the exhaust.
All that adds weight so not surprisingly Government Fuel Economy Ratings are about 9% lower than the C-Max Hybrid at 44-City, 41-Highway, and 43-combined. Those ratings are also 14% less than its sole rival the Prius Plug-In Hybrid.
But, add in a miles-per-gallon equivalent of 100-combined for EV time, and you get a much better Energy Impact Score of just 4.2-barrels of yearly oil use and CO2 emissions of only 1.8-tons. What does all of that mean for you and me?
Well, after a 170-mile weekend of the usual errand running including karate classes and baseball practices, one of our staffers netted a great average of 64.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Obviously the more time you can spend in EV-mode, the better off you’ll be.
On that, Ford claims an EV range of 21-miles. We didn’t get that many at any one time, mostly due to the very cold weather during our testing, but we did see consistent runs of 15-17 miles. Charge time is 2½-hours on a Level 2, 240-volt charger; up to 7-hours plugged into a standard household outlet.
Compared to the Hybrid, the Energi’s range increases from 570 to 620 miles, while top speed decreases from 115 to 102 miles-per-hour. EV-only speed tops out at 85. The basic front drive powertrain remains the same; a 141-horsepower, 2.0-liter, Atkinson-cycle, I4 mated to an 88kW electric motor, all coupled to a continuously variable transmission.
Compared to the Prius Plug-In, the C-Max has a longer range, and thus a higher MPGe rating. But it also has another advantage; it’s a lot more pleasant to drive, all with a very quiet and solid ride. Still, if you get too aggressive, the C-Max’s tall shape starts to feel a little top heavy.
As for acceleration, the Energi is a clear winner here as well, dashing to 60 in 8.5-seconds, more than 2-seconds faster than a Prius Plug-In. The quarter mile is also faster at 16.7-seconds and 87 miles-per-hour.
The Energi’s stylish and nicely finished interior gets the nod too, and comes in SEL trim only; which means SYNC with navigation, push-button start and Active Park Assist are all standard. A back-up camera is optional as is Ford’s hand’s free power lift-gate. Storage space does take a hit due to the larger battery mounted in the rear cargo area. Space behind the rear seats falls from 24.5 cubic-ft. to a 19.2, or a bit less than the Prius.
Whether in EV-mode or operating as a full-hybrid, the Energi feels plenty peppy for both city commuting and highway merging, and adequately equipped for both missions. And now it comes down to deciding whether the Energi is a good value, or just a good idea. Well, pricing starts at $33,745. That’s $4,585 over an SEL equipped C-Max Hybrid, and just a bit more than a base Prius plug-in.
So, is it worth it? Certainly, if your commute is under 20-miles and you can function mostly on EV-power alone; but if most of your trips are of the long variety, you’re much better off sticking with the regular C-Max Hybrid.
We applaud Ford for being bold enough to mount a direct challenge to Toyota’s Prius juggernaut, and for giving buyers true options, whether it’s a full EV, Hybrid, or something in between like the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi. That’s one “energy” plan we can all get behind.
Torque: 129 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 8.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.7 seconds @ 87 mph
EPA: 44 city/ 41 highway
Energy Impact: 4.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 1.8 tons/yr