Ford C-Max Energi Review: Best of Both Worlds?

Sad news, folks: We caved and bought a second car. It was kind of bound to happen since Grandpa moved out with his car and the kiddo started attending pre-school at the bottom of a huge cliff with no bus access.

We did manage to put it off for six months. Some would say we put it off for 7 years, which is how long hubby and I have shared a car while living together in Seattle. Compared to the average Joe who drives a tank, I guess we’re doing all right. But compared to our car-free lifestyle back in Philly, it feels like we’ve sunk to a new low.

Here’s the silver lining though: We got a plug-in hybrid!

Plug-In Hybrids Are Both Electric and Gas

It was super fun trying the different electric and hybrid cars at Paramount Motors. I’ve reviewed them on Yelp and won’t repeat that info here. But I do want to record my first impressions of our first Ford. We bought American – how about that!

I probably wouldn’t have known about the Ford C-Max if it weren’t for my friend Michelle who has been enjoying hers, charging it with electricity from her solar panels – woo hoot!

We wanted to buy an electric car, and a used one so that we wouldn’t be responsible for new materials being mined from the Earth just so we could enjoy new car smell. The problem we found was that used electric cars like the 2013 Nissan Leaf have less than their original ~80-mile range per charge, and once the battery dies, you’re left with a pretty useless hunk of metal. Unless you want to then pay $5,500 for another 2013-era battery while your friends are driving newer models that get hundreds of miles of range. It seemed like a bad investment.

We also weren’t sure if the cranky, maxed-out electrical system of our old house could handle the long hours of charging that an all-electric vehicle would require. If it turned out that we couldn’t charge the car and also use our microwave at the same time, that would be a bummer.

A 2013 Ford C-Max Energi, new to us!

The C-Max was a tempting compromise car. We could plug it in and get up to 20 miles of range as a purely electric car. (Hubby’s commute is 16 miles round trip.) Even in EV mode, we found it to be zippy and responsive. My Mom’s Prius C can only go 5 mph in EV mode. This one can do 60 mph without switching to gas if you’ve charged it up at home.

And if you fail to charge it up, or if you want to go more than 20 miles a day? It functions as a hybrid. It switches off the gas engine when you’re waiting at red lights or inching through traffic, and it collects new electricity into its battery through regenerative braking every time you coast down a huge Seattle hill. I’m not sure if the energy I regenerate while skating down the ravine to pre-school is enough to get me back up to street level, but it does reduce the amount of gas used. Often when I’ve driven 6 miles, it’ll tell me that 2.5 were EV miles and 0.6 were regenerated, or something like that. We bought the thing with less than 1/4 tank of gas in it and didn’t have to refill it for two weeks, even though we used it every day and only plugged it in once. Let the gas-sipping commence!

Other Ford C-Max Factors

I thought I had never had a Ford, but then I remembered that I learned to drive in part on my high school buddy’s 1978 Ford Fairmont station wagon, which had a wooden 4×4 for a bumper. That thing was a boat but it had a good engine and was fun to drive. While in high school in the ’90s, I also drove a Ford Taurus wagon that a family friend had left with us while he was abroad. It had seating for 7, plenty of room for tailgating, and also drove like a boat.

Unfortunately, I have to say that I’m still reminded of those rides with this 2013 model. The tight U-turns and maneuvers I do in my Honda Fit are totally impossible with this car. It’s a smoother, quieter ride, but the car feels very heavy and unwieldy at times. Fortunately, it has a back-up camera. Sad that I should need such a thing, but I don’t want to end up with a wooden bumper again.

Otherwise, the car is lots of fun. It’s full of nice, 21st century features like voice-control for the radio, energy monitoring, and heated seats (a standard amenity in most electric cars!). If you’re local and want to see our new ride, just drop me a line below. Thanks & happy trails!


  1. D

    Congrats on your new car!!! I remember the car with the wooden bumper…

  2. L

    And, if you can’t plug in, the C-Max comes as a hybrid that gets above 40 mpg.

  3. I believe it can go up to 80mph in EV mode.

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