KBB Logo Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

It was only a matter of time before Ford developed a vehicle worthy of giving the Toyota Prius a run for its money. The all-new 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and its plug-in sidekick, the Energi, do just that by delivering top-tier fuel efficiency and engaging driving dynamics without the interior ambiance of a spaceship.

You'll Like The 2013 Ford C-Max If...

If you are on the hunt for a highly-efficient vehicle, but unwilling to sacrifice horsepower and responsive handling, the 2013 Ford C-Max provides the best balance of fuel economy and driving fun in the segment.

You May Not Like The 2013 Ford C-Max If...

If mpg and price are the key criterion in your next new car, you might find the Toyota Prius’ superior fuel mileage and lower starting price more appealing.

What's New

The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid constitute a new breed of fuel sippers designed to split the difference between the regular Toyota Prius and the mid-size Prius V in terms of size, price and fuel economy.

Interior Features

Ford’s newfound status as a leader in interior design and material quality is evident in the 2013 C-Max. The 5-passenger cabin is filled with attractive, soft-touch surfaces that combine to produce a remarkably upscale feel, particularly for this class of vehicle. Ergonomics are excellent, with controls that are user-friendly and easily accessible. Headroom is overly abundant in all seating positions, and rear legroom is suitable for six-footers. The cargo area offers slightly more space than the regular Prius, but significantly less than the larger Prius V.

Exterior Features

In order to fuse aerodynamics with utility, the 2013 Ford C-Max’s exterior design emphasizes function over form. While no less stylish than a Prius, the Ford C-Max features a distinctive shape that associates more closely with a multi-purpose vehicle than a hatchback. Though it shares the majority of its underpinnings with the Ford Focus, the C-Max is roughly five inches shorter in length. The C-Max’s taller stature makes it easier for taller drivers to enter and exit the vehicle, while the available power liftgate incorporates a height-adjustable function to accommodate users of all sizes.

Driving Impressions

When it comes to driving performance, the Ford C-Max enjoys a sizable advantage over the competition. Ford’s third-generation hybrid drive system feels considerably more powerful than its Prius rivals, and the virtually seamless transition from gasoline engine to electric motor effectively disguises the C-Max’s hybrid nature. Although the 2013 C-Max is nearly 600 pounds heavier than the Toyota Prius, winding roads are tackled with a surprising level of precision and control. Outward visibility is equally good, as the C-Max’s elevated seating position provides an SUV-like view of the road ahead. Apart from its awkward location, the brake pedal has a firm, linear feel. Despite the Ford C-Max’s relatively tidy dimensions, road and wind noise at highway speeds are well contained.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid SE starts just under $26,000, with the range-topping SEL trim tacking an additional $3,000 to the bottom line. Energi plug-in hybrid models begin closer to $34,000, but are eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $3,750, depending on the state of purchase. Prices for the Toyota Prius and larger Prius v start in the neighborhood of $25,000 and $27,000, respectively. Because federal tax credits for plug-in hybrids are based on the size of a vehicle’s battery pack, the Prius plug-in qualifies for a smaller $2,500 tax credit, which brings the starting price to just over $30,000. Before heading to the dealership, be sure to check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the 2013 Ford C-Max. We expect the new C-Max to retain higher than average resale values over a 5-year period, with residuals that fall just shy of those held by the popular Toyota Prius.

Notable Equipment

In base SE form, the 2013 Ford C-Max includes dual-zone climate control, manually-adjustable front seats, a 60/40-split rear seat, 17-inch alloy wheels and a 6-speaker audio system with basic hands-free voice recognition and a USB port for portable music players. SEL models add heated front seats, leather seating, push-button start and the MyFord Touch infotainment system with an 8-inch touch-screen display and conversational voice-recognition software. Safety equipment includes seven airbags, a full complement of electronic stability aids and Ford’s SOS post-crash alert system that activates the horn and hazard lights in the event of an airbag deployment.

Notable Options

Features available for both SE and SEL trims include a panoramic moonroof with a power-operated sunshade, remote-start system and touch-screen navigation with customizable routes from MapQuest. SEL models offer a convenient foot-activated power liftgate that opens and closes by simply waving your foot under the rear bumper as well as an active park assist feature that makes parallel parking as simple as pressing a button. The C-Max Energi comes in one trim level and offers most of the features available for the C-Max Hybrid.

Favorite Features

MYFORD MOBILESince plug-in hybrid vehicles are still in a state of infancy, Ford developed a smartphone application to help C-Max Energi owners manage charge times and check battery levels, and it also provides a map of local charging stations.ACTIVE GRILLE SHUTTERSWhen vehicle speeds increase, aerodynamics go to work. By redirecting the flow of air around rather than through the grille opening at highway speeds, the Ford C-Max’s active grille shutters reduce turbulent airflow and improve fuel efficiency.

Under the Hood

Every C-Max features a new 2.0-liter Atkinson-Cycle 4-cylinder engine, a gearless continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and a 35-kW electric motor to produce a combined 188 horsepower. The Energi boasts a larger version of the Hybrid’s lithium-ion battery pack for an all-electric range of approximately 20 miles. And, unlike the Toyota Prius, the C-Max Hybrid can travel up to 62 mph under full electricity.2.0-liter inline-4 hybrid188 net hybrid system horsepower129 lb-ft of engine torque @ 4,000 rpmEPA City/highway fuel economy: 47/47 mpg (Hybrid), NA/NA mpg (Energi)

Editors' Notes

As the mpg wars rage on, there is one word that typically comes to mind when shopping for a new fuel-efficient vehicle: Prius. But the 2013 Ford C-Max intends to disrupt that involuntary word association by offering eco-conscious consumers the fuel economy they expect from an efficiency leader with the driving dynamics of a conventionally-driven 5-door hatchback. Similarly, the interior layout looks, feels and operates like a traditional vehicle, while the plug-in Energi variant bridges the efficiency gap in Ford’s lineup between the C-Max Hybrid and the all-electric Focus EV. In a category dominated by the Prius family of vehicles, the 2013 Ford C-Max has all the right stuff to compete head-to-head with one of the most recognized vehicle nameplates in history.

Road Test Video Reviews

2013 Ford C-Max Owner Reviews

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Space versus Gas Mileage is incomparably better to similar models.

2013 Ford C-Max

The Ford C-Max is advertised as "Best in Class" for hybrid gas mileage and for size/internal space. The trouble is, the MPG advertised never lines up with actual MPG if you drive faster than a granny in terms of cruising, acceleration, deceleration, braking, etc. I manage to get an average of 31 MPG for daily driving around town, but highway mileage varies as once the car reaches 60 MPH the engine automatically engages and electric mode is not possible. That means your best mileage is local driving and not long-distance. It is rather spacious, the seats fold down flat in the back but the rear seat anchors to side beams which make the overall width of the back somewhat deceiving (it takes about 5 or 6 inches away from the overall width in just that section with the beam, which means you don't get the full space). The radio/stereo system is Microsoft SYNC which can be problematic if you do not have the latest firmware updates. Sometimes bluetooth will not connect with modern smartphones, and the only way to fully "turn it off and on again" is to turn off the car, remove the key, and open the driver door, then start the car again...kind of a pain if you lose bluetooth connection while traveling down the highway, as you might imagine. Other than that, it is a little crowded in the rear seats and they do not recline. It was difficult to find a model of car seat that would fit in the rear seats without crowding the driver or passenger leg room'all I can say is, shop around and make sure the return policy is good wherever you buy the car seat, those things are deceptively bigger once you get them in the back of the C-Max. Would definitely buy another, but 2013 is the latest year they produce and they changed the model starting with 2014 (I think it's called a Fiesta now?) so it's smaller and less efficient on gas to buy the same car as a newer model.

- Ryan S

Ford c-max is perfect. Even after five years.

2013 Ford C-Max

My Ford hybrid c max (2013) is the perfect car for me, a single woman. I have an Australian shepherd who can fit either in the back compartment or backseat. She is 10 years old and because of her hips must use a ramp to get into the car. This ramp fits perfect.ly with my c max. The backseat. Collapses in two portions which makes traveling with luggage convenient. Both the front and the back seat have cup holders for 2 cups. As for mileage, over the five years I have owned this vehicle, I am accomplishing 44. 5 miles per gallon on each fill (with air conditioning on) using highway driving, city driving, and hills. The air conditioning comes on immediately as does the heater. The benches are very comfortable. I do have a back problem and so the comfort of both front seats is extremely important to me. The radio is clear and has many adjustments one can make to it. I plan on keeping this c max for a minimum of another five years. I love my hybrid c max, I feel I am doing something very good for the environment and my health.

- Diane O

The savings on gas. I currently get about 45mpg.

2013 Ford C-Max

The best part of the c-max engine is the amount you save on gas. I tend to drive without thoughts of saving and get about 45mpg. It is also a smart car, so I enjoy hands free calls as well as all the options for the radio/etc. On the steering wheel. It is small enough that it fits into pretty much every parking space. I do also like all the extra features. The best being opening the trunk with your foot when your hands are full of groceries, etc. The negatives are outweighed by the positives. Having an energy car means there is half the trunk space. When I rented a normal c-max, I was quite impressed with the trunk and would need to consider that if I get an energy vehicle in the future. Also, because everything is automatic, you need to make sure your keys are on you a all times. . . Not always easy to remember after I leave the house.

- Yvonne S

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