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2017 Ford C-MAX Hybrid: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2017

The 2017 Ford C-MAX Hybrid is a great category-defying family car with fuel-efficiency credentials. It's based on the compact Focus but rides higher. And the body is taller, so passenger space in both rows is usable. 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.

The one unavoidable compromise is the location of the battery pack in the cargo area, which has an impact on carrying capacity. But overall, this car continues to be a strong all-around choice for family duty.

What's New for 2017?

Revised styling for the grille, headlights and taillights. A new Titanium trim level comes in at the top of the range, replacing the SEL. And the options bundles have seen some changes.

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?

$25,050-$28,050

Fuel Economy

The C-MAX Hybrid 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 (CVT) sends this system's combined 188 horsepower to the front wheels.

Fuel economy is estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 42 miles per gallon in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 40 mpg in combined driving.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Ford C-MAX Hybrid comes in SE and Titanium trim levels.

The SE ($25,050) has a 60/40 fold-down rear seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry, automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a rearview camera, SYNC voice command, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input and a USB port.

The optional SE Comfort package brings leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, 10-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat, and heated side mirrors that incorporate puddle lamps. An SE Driver Assist package has rear parking sensors, a powered tailgate, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen.

The Titanium ($28,050) has all the above as standard, then adds rain-sensing wipers, fog lights, ambient cabin lighting, push-button start/remote start, a self-dimming rearview mirror, HD Radio and an upgraded 9-speaker Sony audio system.

The Driver Assist bundle for the Titanium trim features blind spot monitoring, a self-parking system for parallel spaces, front parking sensors and a hands-free powered tailgate (a sensor detects foot movement provided the key is also within range).

Other options include a fixed panoramic sunroof, door-unlocking keypads and navigation.

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 an under-floor storage compartment 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 (IIHS) scores the C-MAX as Good (the highest rating) in every category except the small-overlap front crash test, where it was judged Acceptable (second-highest).

Behind the Wheel

The C-MAX Hybrid has a tall, SUV-like seating position that enables a commanding view of the road, while the slightly curved roof line 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 mph 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

2017 Toyota Prius v -- Perhaps the only direct competitor to the C-MAX, it commands a modest price premium over the Ford.

2017 Lexus CT 200h -- This more upscale alternative breaks the $30,000 barrier but comes with hatchback functionality.

Used Lincoln MKZ Hybrid -- Uses a power system similar to the C-MAX's. It's a sedan rather than a hatchback, but compensates with luxury features.

Autotrader's Advice

Assuming a buyer wants to be careful with money as well as emissions, they should look at the SE with the corresponding Driver Assist package.

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.
2017 Ford C-MAX Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader