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Ford targets Prius v with fuel-friendly family car
by Sami Haj-Assaad
Forty-seven miles-per gallon, 188-hp, 99.7 cubic feet of passenger room and $25,995. In almost every measurable way the Ford C-MAX is better than the Toyota Prius v. Even if the C-MAX is missing name recognition, Ford is going straight for the Toyota hybrid and isn’t ashamed to say it.
The Ford C-MAX is Ford’s only hybrid powered vehicle – until the new Fusion hybrid arrives. The full hybrid we’re testing today will be accompanied by a plug-in hybrid which features the same powertrain, but with a beefier battery pack for longer electric-only drives. The C-MAX is going for the family friendly market, saturated with wagons, hatchbacks and small minivans. While a seven-passenger gas-only model was originally planned to come to North America, the third row was axed in order to put the battery-pack in a location that maximized space for the remaining five passengers.
That little design change shows how focused Ford is at ensuring the C-MAX is fuel friendly, but the American automaker didn’t forget the other things that make their other vehicles so popular as well.
All sorts of high-tech features are available on the C-MAX. The infamous MyFord Touch is present, along with a park-assist, hand and keyless power-liftgate and rear-view camera. On the outside, the C-MAX follows the same ‘Kinetic’ design language as the Focus and Escape, but over does it a bit with the three grilles at the front.
The C-MAX is built on the same platform as the Focus, and features a chassis that is surprisingly dialed in for a bigger car. To get the full test-in on the C-MAX we took it from West Hollywood to Malibu, all while staying off the highway, and sticking to the pleasant roads on the way.
Right off the bat, there’s an issue though. Los Angeles is going through a substantial heat-wave, meaning that with temperatures in the high-80s or above, all our testing and photography will be done with the air-conditioning set to its maximum setting. Usually, over the course of a long day, this has a pretty significant impact on fuel-economy.
MYFORD TOUCH WITH BUTTONS
Luckily, the C-MAX SE we’re testing doesn’t have skin-scorching leather upholstery, so we’re comfortable, even in the heat. In fact, the car surprises in terms of comfort for the driver and passenger. There’s tons of head-room, and interior materials are slightly above average for a car of this price range.
As mentioned earlier, Ford’s paid a lot of attention to its tech offerings. MyFord Touch has seen a slight improvement thanks to the addition of knobs for climate control, and actual tactile buttons, for fan speed and AC settings. These replace the touch-sensitive buttons that previous Ford models used, that required constant jabbing in order to change settings drastically. It shows that Ford is listening to the masses, and now people can even adjust the climate settings with gloves on – something we’re really not concerned with in this heat.
However, MyFord Touch is still finicky. Even with the latest version of the software, pairing a phone took far too long. While screen touches were pretty responsive, often it took too long to bring up the map in the navigation screen.