Ford’s 2018 C-Max gas-electric hybrid delivers great fuel economy in a roomy and fun-to-drive package as green as it is handsome. While the C-Max faces tough competition from the Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro, it still has a few advantages including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus a sporty dynamic unexpected in this segment.
You'll Like The 2018 Ford C-Max If...
If you’re looking for a modern hybrid with a domestic angle, the 2018 Ford C-Max has much to offer. Its large interior belies the car’s diminutive size, and its suspension delivers a sportier ride than a Prius or an Ioniq. The C-Max Energi seats five, something the Prius Prime can’t do.
You May Not Like The 2018 Ford C-Max If...
The C-Max’s aging design can’t keep pace with the new Prius, which is not only more efficient, it comes with more safety features like automatic emergency braking. Both the Ioniq and Niro offer a sleek design and lower price.
The 2018 Ford C-Max carries over unchanged.
The 2018 Ford C-Max hatchback has a 5-passenger interior, as does its plug-in hybrid sibling the C-Max Energi, an aspect that distinguishes it from the 4-passenger Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. This Ford hybrid's voluptuous exterior design pays off inside, where headroom is generous for front- and rear-seat passengers. At 24.5 cubic feet, cargo room behind the 2nd-row seats is commendable and just shy of the Prius' roominess. The C-Max Energi, however, has roughly five cubic feet less and an awkward hump that hides its larger battery pack. Both have folding rear seats for added cargo versatility. Up front are comfortable, well-bolstered seats.
Design-wise the bulbous C-Max is more conservative than the space-oddity Prius, but we must admit that to our eyes the Hyundai Ioniq line of hybrid and all-electric models is far easier on the eyes than both the Ford and Toyota hybrids. As for the C-Max, its rounded and mounded exterior pays off on the inside, where there is ample headroom and space for taller people and objects. Apart from badging and what looks like a fuel-cap door on the front left that hides the AC plug-in port, the 2018 C-Max Energi looks nearly identical to the standard C-Max hybrid.
In spite of its tall roof and small size, the 2018 Ford C-Max feels remarkably planted. The 2.0-liter gasoline engine and electric motor combo deliver fairly quick response and passing power, although the electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT) returns an irritating droning hum under hard acceleration. To be fair, other hybrid CVTs possess similar characteristics. This fuel-efficient eco-warrior is more than just miserly; it is actually quite fun to toss around winding roads and tight curves. In less aggressive settings, the C-Max rolls along smoothly and quietly, even more so when the Energi’s electric-only mode is engaged. In fact, the C-Max Energi’s electric mode delivers immediate acceleration that can only come from a torque-heavy electric motor. And, while the C-Max’s fuel economy is in the mid-40 range, both the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq handily out-distance it.
The 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just shy of $25,000 when factoring in the destination charge. Titanium models begin about $3,000 more. The C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid starts just under $28,000, and the Titanium model is also $3,000 beyond that. Note that the C-Max Energi, however, may be eligible for around $4,000 in federal tax credits. Further incentives from Ford can take thousands more off the price, so be sure to check with your dealer. With options, these prices can increase a few thousand dollars. At its starting price, Ford's hybrid hatchback is just slightly lower than the 2018 Toyota Prius, while the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid is priced nearly identically to the Toyota Prius Prime. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their new hybrid. The Ford C-Max has traditionally had poor resale value.
In base SE form, the 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi include dual-zone climate control, rearview camera, 10-way power-adjust driver's seat, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD player with USB and auxiliary inputs, and a Sync system with 4.2-inch center display that connects to smartphones via Bluetooth. The Titanium C-Max models include leather interior with 10-way-power passenger seat, the Sync3 infotainment system with 8-inch touch screen, heated front seats, 9-speaker premium Sony audio system, reverse-sensing system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, push-button start and universal garage-door opener.
If you're buying a base 2018 C-Max, we recommend the SE Driver Assist Package, which bundles power liftgate, Sync3 and the reverse-sensing system for added safety when in reverse. The Titanium Driver Assist Package, meanwhile, adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Active Park Assist to help with parallel parking, and the hands-free tailgate. Other options available on both models include navigation and a panoramic moonroof. Unlike the Prius, the 2018 C-Max doesn't offer the advanced safety systems and driving aids such as the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and radar cruise control that come standard on the Toyota.
A swipe of one’s foot below the rear bumper is all it takes to make the C-Max’s power rear liftgate automatically open. Handy for when your arms are full, this clever feature makes loading the C-Max’s ample cargo bay all the easier.
SMARTGAUGE WITH ECOGUIDE
Efficient driving (also known as hypermiling) is rewarded by an electronic bouquet of glowing, growing “efficiency leaves” displayed across the C-Max’s customizable dual-LCD instrument cluster. It’s a cute and clever way to help drivers be more mindful when pressing the accelerator.
Under the Hood
Every Ford C-Max Hybrid features a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine, a gearless continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and an electric motor to produce a combined 188 horsepower. The Energi boasts a larger lithium-ion battery pack for an all-electric range of approximately 19 miles. The standard C-Max Hybrid doesn't need to be plugged in, as its hybrid system works behind the scenes. Just fill the car with gasoline and you're good to go. You could do the same with the C-Max Energi, but you wouldn't get the vehicle's ability to travel all those miles on electricity only. For that you'll need to plug it into an electrical outlet. Ford pegs approximate recharge times at 2.5 hours on a 240-volt outlet or seven on a standard 120-volt outlet.
2.0-liter inline-4 + electric motor
188 net hybrid system horsepower
129 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 42/38 mpg (Hybrid), 39 mpg combined/95 MPGe (Energi)
Ford’s C-Max gas-electric hybrid for 2018 delivers great fuel economy in a roomy and fun-to-drive package that is both green and good-looking. While it faces tough competition from the new Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro, the C-Max still has a few advantages, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus cool upscale features like an available hands-free foot-activated power liftgate. There’s also a plug-in hybrid called the C-Max Energi that can run up to 19 miles solely on electric power. The C-Max has a more athletic feel than the Prius or Ionic, but its 42-mpg/city-fuel-economy rating can’t touch the Toyota’s 58 mpg, the Ioniq’s 57 mpg or the Niro’s 52 mpg.