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2016 Ford C-MAX Hybrid: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2016

The 2016 Ford C-MAX Hybrid continues to be a strong all-around choice for family duty. It handles better than most hybrids, has plenty of room for four (or five in a pinch), achieves only a couple of miles per gallon less than its main rival (the Toyota Prius v), and is priced right.

This model is based on the compact Focus, but it rides higher and the body is taller, so passenger space in both rows is usable. One unavoidable compromise is the location of the battery pack in the cargo area, which has an impact on carrying capacity.

What's New for 2016?

Like many Blue Oval products, a new SYNC 3 infotainment system replaces the unpopular MyFord Touch, bringing a more user-friendly interface and improved technology. Shadow Black and Kona Blue are new paint choices.

What We Like

Small on the outside; roomy on the inside; big mpg; quiet and composed ride

What We Don't

Tall Euro-wagon styling won't win any beauty contests; braking ability less than ideal

How Much?

$25,045-$28,045

Fuel Economy

The Ford is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 35-kilowatt electric motor that has its own lithium-ion battery pack. A continuously variable transmission sends this system's combined 188 horsepower to the front wheels.

Fuel economy is estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 42 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 40 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Ford C-MAX Hybrid comes in SE and SEL trim levels.

The SE ($25,045) has a 60/40 fold-down rear seat, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, SYNC voice command, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input and a USB port.

The SEL ($28,045) adds the SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, ambient cabin lighting, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather seating surfaces, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors and keyless entry/ignition.

Some SEL features are available as options in the SE. A power lift gate, navigation, a panoramic fixed sunroof, remote engine starting and door-lock touchpads are optional for both trims. The SEL is also eligible for front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a parallel self-parking system and hands-free lift gate operation (a sensor detects foot movement providing the key is also within range).

The C-MAX has 52.6 cu ft. of cargo space behind the front seats, or 24.5 cu ft. behind the second row. That first figure is good; the second figure is less impressive. Handy features include underfloor storage compartments and a 110-volt power outlet.

Safety

The Ford C-MAX Hybrid features roll stability control, which senses yaw and roll movements, modulates engine output and applies brake pressure to stabilize the vehicle. Anti-lock disc brakes and seven airbags are also standard.

In government crash tests, the C-MAX Hybrid received four stars out of five overall: four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the C-MAX a Good (the highest rating) score in every category except the small-overlap front offset test, where it was judged Acceptable (second-highest).

Behind the Wheel

The C-MAX Hybrid has a tall, SUVlike seating position that enables a commanding view of the road, while the slightly curved roofline provides ample headroom.

Press the accelerator gently, and the C-MAX pulls away in silent electric-only mode, which is good for up to 62 miles per hour if the battery is sufficiently charged. When the 2.0-liter internal-combustion engine kicks in, a relatively seamless transition enables more energetic progress. It's surprisingly punchy given the high fuel economy ratings. Incidentally, it's easy to inadvertently click the shifter into L, which sharpens acceleration and charges the battery more intensely through brake regeneration.

One of the C-MAX Hybrid's strongest suits is a nimble driving character. When pushed, it handles tight corners skillfully, feeling more like the Focus hatchback it's based on than the tall wagon it actually is. On the highway, the cabin remains pleasantly quiet. Not many hybrids can match these qualities.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Toyota Prius v -- Toyota builds perhaps the only direct competitor to the C-MAX, which commands a modest price premium over the Ford.

2016 Lexus CT 200h -- The more-upscale Lexus alternative breaks the $30,000 barrier but comes with hatchback functionality.

Used Lincoln MKZ Hybrid -- The electrified MKZ uses a similar power system to the C-MAX. While it's a sedan rather than a hatchback, it compensates with luxury features.

Autotrader's Advice

The C-MAX Hybrid is at its best when it offers the most value, so stick with the SE and a few options such as SYNC 3. This car is due for a refresh when the 2017 model year comes around, and equipment choices should be broader.

Find a Ford C-MAX for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Ford C-MAX Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader