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2015 Ford C-Max Energi REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/3/2017

Con: Considerably more expensive than regular C-Max; lacks useful cargo space for its size; MyFord Touch interface can be finicky to use; stiffer ride than some rivals.

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Interior: The C-Max's Energi's cabin will feel familiar if you've driven a Focus or Escape, which is a very good thing since these cars all incorporate top-notch materials, solid construction and eye-catching design. The supportive, high-mounted driver seat gives you a slightly more commanding view of the road than you'll get in most wagons and hatchbacks.

Unfortunately, the C-Max Energi also shares its finicky infotainment interface with its Ford siblings. The MyFord Touch interface remains an imperfect and generally counterintuitive means of controlling the car's many functions. On the positive side, the combination of MyFord Touch and the Sync voice control system does allow for useful hands-free operation and various display customization possibilities. You'll certainly want to spend some time with the system during your test-drive to make sure you're OK with MyFord Touch's learning curve.

A more significant downside is the C-Max's cargo capacity. The space needed for the Energi's battery pack beneath the floor of the cargo area reduces the capacity of the rear compartment, which is already fairly narrow. As a result, there are just 19.2 cubic feet available behind the rear seats -- more than the Volt, but less than the Prius.

Lowering the seats opens up 42.8 cubic feet, which is more than 20 cubic feet shy of a Prius V or a typical small crossover SUV. Worse, the load floor isn't flat when the seats are folded, as the battery pack creates a high shelf behind the rear seats that sits about a foot higher than the load floor.

Body: The 2015 Ford C-Max Energi is a five-passenger plug-in hybrid hatchback/wagon available in a single SEL trim level. The non-plug-in Ford C-Max Hybrid is reviewed separately.

Standard equipment on the Energi includes 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, integrated blind-spot mirrors, automatic headlights and wipers, foglamps, rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with two-way power lumbar) and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat. Electronic features include the Sync voice-activated electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch touchscreen display with the MyFord Touch interface, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, satellite radio and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The C-Max Energi's options are bundled together in ascending packages: 301A, 302A and 303A. All add a navigation system and a nine-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio and a second USB port. On top of that, 302A adds a rearview camera and an enhanced power liftgate that allows you to open it simply by swiping your foot under the bumper. The 303A includes all of the above plus front parking sensors and an automatic parallel parking system.

A panoramic fixed glass roof is a stand-alone option.

Driving: Like other recent Fords, the 2015 Ford C-Max Energi feels like a more expensive European car in the way it drives. While that ride isn't exactly cushy, there's a substantial feel to the way the C-Max goes down the road. The cabin is also notably quiet, especially compared to the Prius, and the communicative steering is another strong point. The Energi is stable through turns, though the weight of the bigger battery pack makes the vehicle a bit less nimble compared to the regular C-Max. Braking at low speeds feels far more natural in the C-Max Energi, without the odd, grabby pedal action that's common with the energy-recovering braking systems in many hybrids.

The C-Max's plug-in system is worthy of praise as well. Besides the genuinely useful electric-only range and impressive fuel economy, the Energi's big battery pack extends the hatchback's range to more than 500 miles. Or, if it's spirited acceleration you want, the C-Max happily obliges. Acceleration is strong for a hybrid, and even highway passing isn't the weak-kneed chore normally associated with hybrids.

What’s New: The 2015 Ford C-Max Energi carries over unchanged.

The 2015 Ford C-Max Energi is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine generating 141 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an electric motor fed by a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Combined, they send a total of 188 hp to the front wheels.

The battery pack is considerably larger than the one in the standard C-Max Hybrid, which allows the Energi to travel up to 19 miles purely on electric power. Using a 240-volt charging station, fully recharging the pack only takes about 2.5 hours, but a standard 120-volt wall outlet extends that time to at least 5 hours.

In Edmunds testing, a C-Max Energi accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, which is a quick time for a hybrid, plug-in or otherwise, and a slightly quicker result than the C-Max Hybrid.

Once the C-Max Energi's pure-electric range is used up, it operates like the standard C-Max Hybrid. The official EPA combined fuel economy estimate stands at 38 mpg.

Safety: The 2015 Ford C-Max Energi comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Also standard are 911 Assist, which when paired to your smartphone can automatically call for emergency services in case of airbag deployment; and MyKey, which allows owners to set certain speed and stereo volume parameters for valets or teen drivers. Rear parking sensors are standard, and front parking sensors and a rearview camera are optional.

In Edmunds brake testing, the C-Max Energi came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, which is a bit longer than average for its segment.

In government crash tests, the C-Max Energi received four out of five stars for overall protection, with four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. The standard C-Max Hybrid received the best possible rating of "Good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-crash and roof-strength tests, as well as a "Good" rating for its seat and head restraint design for whiplash protection in rear impacts. The C-Max Hybrid received the second-highest score of "Acceptable" in the IIHS's small-overlap frontal-offset test.

Pro: High fuel economy; decent electric-only range; stylish and well-made interior; refined handling and ride dynamics; quick acceleration; abundant features list; elevated driving position.

Edmunds Say: The 2015 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid provides a desirable mix of fuel economy, electric-only range, utility and refinement. Depending on your priorities, though, competitors might work out better.

Introduction: If electric-only range anxiety gives you pause while shopping for a car and if standard hybrids just don't seem efficient enough, there's a small niche of plug-in hybrid vehicles that may serve your needs. The 2015 Ford C-Max Energi is one such plug-in hybrid, with the ability to travel about 20 miles on electricity before it needs gasoline. While that's not a whole lot of range, it could prove to be enough for many city dwellers with a short commute and a place at home to recharge.

Much like the standard C-Max Hybrid, the Energi is powered by a 2.0-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor. However, the Energi is equipped with a larger battery pack that can also be recharged from an outside power source. This contributes to an EPA-estimated 88 MPGe figure, as well as 38 mpg combined when the all-electric range is depleted.

Most hybrids are designed to be efficient, so high mileage shouldn't be surprising. The C-Max Energi's driving personality, however, is a bit rare. The Edmunds "B" rated C-Max Energi feels better on the road than almost all its similarly priced and sized rivals. Cars like the Toyota Prius are less refined and feel less substantial and connected to the road. The Ford actually has a bit of pep in its step, and even if ride quality is a bit firmer as a result, we think it's a small trade-off definitely worth making.

Aside from the ride quality, there are a few notable drawbacks to the 2015 C-Max Energi. Combined mileage is actually lower than the standard C-Max hybrid with a higher starting price, so the Energi is only the smart choice if you've got a short commute around town. The large battery in the rear also has a significant impact on cargo space, compromising much of this hatchback's versatility. Nearly all non-plug-in rivals will have considerably more storage space -- up to 20 cubic feet more in some cases. And while we like the rest of the interior for its stylish design and high-quality materials, the MyFord Touch electronic interface can be difficult to use.

Plug-in hybrids still make up a very small percentage of available vehicles, but there are still a few competitors worth checking out. The 2015 Chevrolet Volt has double the electric-only range of the C-Max Energi, and the Toyota Prius Plug-In is more efficient. Sedans such as the 2015 Ford Fusion Energi and the Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid give you a more traditional-looking body style. Whatever you put it up against, though, we think the 2015 C-Max Energi will definitely be worth your time if you're shopping for a plug-in hybrid.

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