Last Update: Thursday, December 05, 2013
|MAYNARD'S GARAGE- 59 Miles Per Gallon: Ford's Plug-In C-Max Energi is Pricey but Productive|
|Written by Mark Maynard|
|Thursday, 19 September 2013 06:59|
Photo Credit Creative Syndicate
As an extended-range electric vehicle, the C-Max has more function than the Chevrolet Volt and as a hybrid it is much better finished than the Prius V.
The Ford C-Max Energi is complex to explain, simple to appreciate.
In my second day of driving this plug-in hybrid, I was driving along and paging through the onboard computer when the average mpg readout came up: 59.1.
Whoa, wait, that can't be right, can it? 59 mpg combined city and highway from this gawky, five-passenger wagoncrossover?
Talk about distracted driving. I kept an eye on the readout as I drove the Interstate. Yes, it was 59 mpg, and I wasn't even trying to get good fuel economy.
And then I settled down and got into the hyper-miling mindset by engaging cruise control at 64 mph and moved to the relative consistency of the No. 3 lane to drive at my own pace. The C-Max is sold in two electrified models, a hybrid or plug-in hybrid, today's test car. The plug-in Energi model can be driven by battery power, as an extended-range electric (battery first, then switching to motor-generator) or hybrid, with the electric system boosting the engine.
Photo Credit Creative Syndicate
The electric motor and 2.0- liter four-cylinder gasoline work together or separately as needed. The engine also can charge the lithium-ion batteries. There is about 21 miles of range on battery power before switching to hybrid operation. As an extended-range electric vehicle, the C-Max has more function than the Chevrolet Volt, and as a hybrid it is much better finished than the Prius V. Still, the C-Max has an economy-car interior with a near-luxury price.
The recent news of Ford downgrading C-Max fuel economy was applied only to the hybrid model, which now has EPA fuel economy ratings of 45 mpg city, 40 highway, 43 combined. C-Max Energi is sold in one, front-wheel-drive top-line SEL trim level with a starting price of $33,745, including the $795 freight charge from Wayne, Mich. The test car was $36,635 with some package discounts.
There also is an available $3,750 federal tax credit and an additional $1,500 in California. Another incentive is access for the solo driver to California's High Occupant Vehicle lanes.
The audio-navigation package, $3,080, also adds the hands-free technology package, power liftgate, rearview camera, automated parking and keyless entry and pushbutton ignition. Those features are must-haves for the retail customer.
Sightlines are good with rear views further improved by the large-screen rearview camera with guidance lines. There is an upright ride position, which gives everybody visibility and comfortable entry and exit. But there also is trucky head toss over uneven pavement and especially when stepping over speed bumps.
There is an external charge port and onboard charger to connect to a standard 120-volt outlet or optional 240-volt charging station.
I got by with the onboard charger but owners will want the 240-volt for quicker topoffs. Battery power is key to getting 59 mpg on the highway. After the battery was drained, my fuel economy ranged from 42.9 to 48 mpg in hybrid mode. The EPA claims a city/highway average of 43 mpg.
The C-Max is a better people mover than cargo vehicle. There is roomy seating for five, with 41 inches of front headroom and 43.1 inches of legroom. The back seat has 39.4 inches of headroom and 36.5 inches of legroom with a flat secondrow floor for good three-across comfort.
But the battery pack takes up the lower third of the cargo area. The back seats fold flat, which helps cargo capacity, at the expense of passengers. As the parental commuter car, there is room to drop kids at school and scoot down the highway at maximum pace and fuel economy.
It takes effort to finesse the mileage. The driver will have to use EV mode, downhill braking and learn to maximize the regenerative braking. But those accomplishments can be points of engagement for this driver. And it can be a value-added offset to paying a hefty price that could also buy a mainstream compact crossover with enough savings for a few years of fuel payments.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 19 September 2013 07:04|