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As some may know, I traded cars with my mom. The basic deal, she gets my Volt (free of car payments), and I trade in her C-Max for my Bolt. One step closer to going gas free. She only drives about 10,000 miles a year at this point while I am still pushing over 40,000, so it makes sense for me to have a full BEV.

While I wait for my Bolt to arrive, I have been driving the non-Energi C-Max, and I have a few impressions to share.

First, there is a definite quality difference between the C-Max and the Volt. At first, I thought it might just be me, but both my mom and my brother have repeatedly stated how much nicer of a car the Volt is. Driving the C-Max, you know it is a hybrid, and it drives like one. The Volt drives like a high-end luxury car in comparison.

Second, I've started to notice a lot of little things. The Volt defaults to auto headlights, while the C-Max requires a dial setting. KEYS! All of my cars for the last eight years have had FOBs (keyless ignition); it is hard to describe just how inconvenient it is to go back to turning an ignition. Plus, I didn't realize how much I would miss the seamless button press door entry. With the Volt, I almost never had to take my keys out of my pocket, and with the C-Max I'm constantly fumbling.

Third, the field of view is significantly different. The upfront visibility is better in the C-Max (I think due to the windshield design), but the rear visibility is actually much worse than in the Volt. In my Volt, the back-up camera was a nice feature, but wasn't necessary. I'm actually very uncomfortable backing up the C-Max because of how hard it is to see certain areas when backing up.

Fourth, the EV aspects. The C-Max has mild regenerative braking, which is nice but not very strong. It has a cool feature that tells you how much power you've recaptured, but I am often disappointed by how weak it is. Anything more than a brisk deceleration, and the braking efficiency drops quickly. The C-Max also has a very weak EV system that allows you to drive using only the electric motor, but it is very limited in scope. If the battery has sufficient charge and the load is low enough, you can drive on electricity alone. According to the odometer, nearly 13,000 of the car's 50,000 miles have been in EV Mode.

Fifth, the fuel economy. To put it bluntly, I can see why Ford got in trouble for misrepresenting the fuel economy. This C-Max has been driven in fairly ideal conditions, and the average fuel economy for the life of the vehicle has been 40 mpg. Based on my driving experiences so far, even discounting the Volt's 40+ miles of EV, the Volt gets better fuel economy ICE to ICE.

Overall, I do think the C-Max is a decent entry-level hybrid for the money (low $20k starting), but I can see how it doesn't stack up against the competition. In particular, I can't see how anyone who is cross shopping the C-Max with a Prius would ever pick the former, and I'm no fan of Toyota.
 

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I'll start by saying that my C-Max was a well equipped 2013 Energi. It came standard with keyless entry, locking, and start, leather, upgraded stereo system, etc, and I added a few more options. It was EPA rated at 20 miles EV, but I consistently got 32-34 summer and 26-28 winter. I drove it for 2 1/2 years and 25K before trading it for my 2017 Volt. My lifetime mileage was 137 MPG.

Before the Energi, I had a 2004 Prius and a 2007 Prius which I owned for 10 years and 140K miles combined. The Ford was better in nearly every way - handling, ride, power, comfort, and was a much more solid feeling vehicle. The mileage including EV was twice that of the Priuses, although in hybrid only mode the Toyotas were slightly better - 60 to 57.

In my opinion, the visibility of the Energi was better than my Volt, certainly to the rear. That's my biggest gripe about my Volt. I'll admit that the volt is the better driver, due to it's lower center of gravity, but it doesn't have the interior room of the C-Max [or the Priuses]. However, since I retired this year and no longer need the room for my equipment, the Volt with it's much greater EV range suits me fine.
 

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I've not driven the CMax but here's my thoughts on your points from the POV of a Fusion Energi - admittedly quite a kind of different car though.

The Volt defaults to auto headlights, while the C-Max requires a dial setting.
If you leave the dial in the "auto" setting, it's fully automatic.

KEYS! All of my cars for the last eight years have had FOBs (keyless ignition); it is hard to describe just how inconvenient it is to go back to turning an ignition. Plus, I didn't realize how much I would miss the seamless button press door entry. With the Volt, I almost never had to take my keys out of my pocket, and with the C-Max I'm constantly fumbling.
I believe these are options - at least the ignition is.

The upfront visibility is better in the C-Max (I think due to the windshield design)
Agreed - my Fusion Energi has much better front visibility

The C-Max has mild regenerative braking, which is nice but not very strong.
Meh. I find driving in "L" feels about the same as it did in the Volt, but I don't do it often.

The C-Max also has a very weak EV system that allows you to drive using only the electric motor, but it is very limited in scope.
True, but the Energi's are plugin hybrids, not EREV's - they don't really try to compete in that aspect.

the average fuel economy for the life of the vehicle has been 40 mpg. Based on my driving experiences so far, even discounting the Volt's 40+ miles of EV, the Volt gets better fuel economy ICE to ICE.
How are you pulling the lifetime fuel economy, I don't see that on the dash menus? I find that I end up with about the same MPG as I got with my 2013 Volt.

FWIW, the fit and finish of my Fusion Energi (SE Luxury model) seem to be on par or better than the 2013 Volt.

All this being said, I do miss the EV drive quality of the Volt - when my Fusion lease is up next fall I may go back to the Volt and tell the kids to suck it up in the back seats! ;)
 

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Meh. I find driving in "L" feels about the same as it did in the Volt, but I don't do it often.
Yes L in the Energi provides strong regen but the OP is driving a base hybrid.

Many good points Eric to which I'll add, I have a 2013 SEL CMax that is better appointed (more usefulness) than my nearly loaded 2012 Volt. Better seating for everyone, ingress/egress, front and rear views, HVAC controls, and gas economy (when I do use the ICE). The volt had more EV range and a stronger EV drivetrain. My biggest gripes on the Ford have been the limited turning circle and the original glitchy Microsoft center display but that's better now with updates.

After a few weeks, it would be interesting for the OP and his mom to switch back for a few days and review again. Kinda' like deciding on two new pairs of shoes, you need to got back/forth more than once.
 

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I agree with the other posts here about the Fusion Energi. I had done two test drives in the Fusion Hybrid (which is identical to the Energi, except for a larger battery, a charging poart, and some programmed EV features), and I can say that it is the best hybrid sedan in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico), and its monthly sales posted at "InsideEVs" proves it. If the Energi models had a 16kWh battery, then it would be better than the Volt.

If GM doesn't come up with the Volt or Bolt EV here, my next candidate is the Fusion Energi.
 

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One of the things that steered me away from the C-Max when I was shopping about 18 months ago was that the C-Max had a poor reliability rating, and the Volt's was better. That seems to have flip-flopped since then. Although the difference in AER is still a compelling feature for me.
 

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Overall, I do think the C-Max is a decent entry-level hybrid for the money (low $20k starting), but I can see how it doesn't stack up against the competition. In particular, I can't see how anyone who is cross shopping the C-Max with a Prius would ever pick the former, and I'm no fan of Toyota.
When I was shopping a few months ago, I was considering a 2016 or 2017 C-Max, a 2016 or 2017 Prius, or a 2017 Volt. I got the Volt, but my second choice, somewhat to my surprise, was the C-Max, not the Prius. The reasons:

  • Visibility -- The C-Max has much better visibility than either the Prius or the Volt. I assume that you're comparing the Gen1 Volt to the current C-Max, but my comparison was to the Gen2 Volt, which has dismal rear visibility. OTOH, getting a rear-view camera in a 2016 C-Max required buying the top-tier trim level and adding options packages, which was a big minus on this score. (The Ford dealer I talked to offered adding an aftermarket rear-view camera, though.)
  • Entry -- The C-Max is easier to get into and out of than the Prius or the Volt.
  • Seating -- The C-Max's seats are better than those in either the Prius or the Volt.
  • Noise -- In most of the driving I did, the C-Max was quieter than the Prius I drove. (Of course, the Volt is quieter still.) The exception was when accelerating to highway speeds, when the C-Max's engine was quite obtrusive.
  • Cargo area -- Although the Prius's figures say it has more cargo area than the C-Max, the shape of the C-Max's cargo area is more rectangular, which I preferred. (The Volt was a big loser on this measure -- but as a practical matter, it's still adequate for my needs.)
  • Styling -- Ouside, I preferred the C-Max to the Prius, and inside, I didn't like the Prius's weirdness. The Volt was better than either car.
  • Infotainment -- This could go either way, but when equipped with Sync 3, the C-Max supports Andoid Auto and Apple CarPlay, whereas Toyota supports neither, so the C-Max got a slight edge on this issue for me compared to the Prius. (The Volt was at least the equal of the C-Max.)
Of course, many items on this list are subjective, and I took each car on a short test drive, not an extended multi-day experience. I've also omitted from this list areas where the Prius beat the C-Max, and of course the same is true for the Volt. (In brief, I got the Volt because I decided I wanted to move much further toward an EV than the non-plug-in C-Max or Prius, the plug-in version of the C-Max lost way too much cargo space and wasn't as good an EV as the Volt, and the Prius Prime wasn't yet available but looked to be similar to the C-Max Energi relative to its non-plug-in variant.)
 

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I drove a regular Fusion and hated it so much that I bought the Volt instead. It wasn't that the car was bad, just numb. I did like the space in the Ford, as the Volt is terrible in this regard. I am not a GM guy either, I used to prefer Ford, but I do think latest GM vehicles have really kicked it up a notch.

I drove a more base model Fusion, just to see if I even wanted to go test drive an Energi model. I didn't bother afterwards. Maybe a mistake if they drive differently I guess. The Volt being a usable EV (instead of traditional hybrid) cemented my decision.
 

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One of the things that steered me away from the C-Max when I was shopping about 18 months ago was that the C-Max had a poor reliability rating, and the Volt's was better. That seems to have flip-flopped since then. Although the difference in AER is still a compelling feature for me.
A major portion of that reliability hit was due to the Microsoft issues I previously referred to and was a problem among most of the Ford lineup. Updates and a warranty extension out to 5 years helped a lot.
 

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I am surprised by the number of relatively positive comments on the C-Max. If I were shopping today, I would give it a much closer look. Especially if it has more rear seat room, which is the main weakness of the Volt, IMO (I have growing kids).
 

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Beware of owning ANY Ford plug-in product. They have shown that they will NOT honor any kind of capacity warranty. They even say the information for the capacity warranty terms are PROPRIETARY! WTF!

There is currently work on filing a class action lawsuit against Ford for their refusal to honor any kind of battery degradation claim. Right now they can deny claims all day because only they know what the terms are.

I leased a C-Max Energi for 2 years (you can find my reviews on here), and it was fine for what it was, but the EV range was simply too limited. And with the whole warranty thing, I will never buy another Ford product.
 

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I drove a regular Fusion and hated it so much that I bought the Volt instead. It wasn't that the car was bad, just numb. I did like the space in the Ford, as the Volt is terrible in this regard. I am not a GM guy either, I used to prefer Ford, but I do think latest GM vehicles have really kicked it up a notch.

I drove a more base model Fusion, just to see if I even wanted to go test drive an Energi model. I didn't bother afterwards. Maybe a mistake if they drive differently I guess. The Volt being a usable EV (instead of traditional hybrid) cemented my decision.
Actually, that really was a huge mistake as they drive completely different. I drove both back to back and the difference is stunning. I really like the Energi and would have purchase it over the Volt for all the extra interior room, but that tiny trunk killed it dead in its tracks for a family vacation. The Volt works. Right now we are seriously considering the Pacifica Hybrid as our next vehicle to replace my wife's Saturn Outlook.
 

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As you see from my signature, we have both. I really like the Volt, it is much more fun to drive. Volt is the basic, strong, simple, reliable type. C-Max-E is quite refined, much quieter than Volt EV to EV (I still have the Goodyears), the sophisticated gentle type. Volt has a "look at me, now floor it!" personality", while C-Max-E is more "go gentle on me!" (or I'll have to turn on that engine). It just doesn't have the horsepower Volt does, EV to EV.

C-Max on ICE can be a disappointment, understand that exactly. But C-Max-Energi is a very different car.

C-Max-E definitely has driver and passenger comfort advantage, better visibility front and rear, easier entry/exit and more mainstream CUV styling. Which for my wife were all key factors. The 19-20 mile AER on C-Max is not so much an issue for her, her one way commute is only 3-4 miles, and she doesn't need to care about the technology. The C-Max tells her she's getting 89 mpg overall, and she's happy using a lot less gas.

For me, the driving experience is important, the doubled AER, the hatch for cargo, yet compact size. The biggest issues for me on gen1 I think are mostly improved or solved on gen2. (I have driven a gen2)
 

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As some may know, I traded cars with my mom. The basic deal, she gets my Volt (free of car payments), and I trade in her C-Max for my Bolt. One step closer to going gas free. She only drives about 10,000 miles a year at this point while I am still pushing over 40,000, so it makes sense for me to have a full BEV.

While I wait for my Bolt to arrive, I have been driving the non-Energi C-Max, and I have a few impressions to share.

First, there is a definite quality difference between the C-Max and the Volt. At first, I thought it might just be me, but both my mom and my brother have repeatedly stated how much nicer of a car the Volt is. Driving the C-Max, you know it is a hybrid, and it drives like one. The Volt drives like a high-end luxury car in comparison.

Second, I've started to notice a lot of little things. The Volt defaults to auto headlights, while the C-Max requires a dial setting. KEYS! All of my cars for the last eight years have had FOBs (keyless ignition); it is hard to describe just how inconvenient it is to go back to turning an ignition. Plus, I didn't realize how much I would miss the seamless button press door entry. With the Volt, I almost never had to take my keys out of my pocket, and with the C-Max I'm constantly fumbling.

Third, the field of view is significantly different. The upfront visibility is better in the C-Max (I think due to the windshield design), but the rear visibility is actually much worse than in the Volt. In my Volt, the back-up camera was a nice feature, but wasn't necessary. I'm actually very uncomfortable backing up the C-Max because of how hard it is to see certain areas when backing up.

Fourth, the EV aspects. The C-Max has mild regenerative braking, which is nice but not very strong. It has a cool feature that tells you how much power you've recaptured, but I am often disappointed by how weak it is. Anything more than a brisk deceleration, and the braking efficiency drops quickly. The C-Max also has a very weak EV system that allows you to drive using only the electric motor, but it is very limited in scope. If the battery has sufficient charge and the load is low enough, you can drive on electricity alone. According to the odometer, nearly 13,000 of the car's 50,000 miles have been in EV Mode.

Fifth, the fuel economy. To put it bluntly, I can see why Ford got in trouble for misrepresenting the fuel economy. This C-Max has been driven in fairly ideal conditions, and the average fuel economy for the life of the vehicle has been 40 mpg. Based on my driving experiences so far, even discounting the Volt's 40+ miles of EV, the Volt gets better fuel economy ICE to ICE.

Overall, I do think the C-Max is a decent entry-level hybrid for the money (low $20k starting), but I can see how it doesn't stack up against the competition. In particular, I can't see how anyone who is cross shopping the C-Max with a Prius would ever pick the former, and I'm no fan of Toyota.
OP's C-MAX sounds nothing like the 2013 C-MAX Energi I drove for 3 years. Mine was fully loaded options and I would say fairly comparable to my 2017 Volt Premier fully equipped, other than the ACC and lane assist in the Volt.

My C-Max could go 80+ mph on battery only without issue as long as I didn't punch the accelerator.

Visibility was MUCH better in the Ford ALL the way around.

I had an issue similar to the reduced power complaint on the Volt early on, but after the recall fixed it, the car was 100% reliable thought-out my lease.

There were no complaints about quality or fit and finish, but the Volt fires feel like a luxury car in comparison. The Ford more like a light truck or SUV.

Truck style seating in the Ford was easier to get in and out of than the Volt. Both had heated leatherr seats. Ford was a bit wider, which was good fit my fat a**. 😁

I'd definitely take the Gen 2 Volt over a C-Max Energi when comparably equipped, but the OP comparing what was clearly a LOW END equipped non-Plugin version against a better options Volt seems pointless. They're not at all similar vehicles.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #15
It sounds like the Energi is significantly better than the regular C-Max, but I can only speak to my experiences.

The entering and exiting are one of the things that is better in the C-Max than it is in the Volt, which I think happens regardless of trim level.

As for the visibility, I'm surprised to hear people say that they feel the visibility is better in the C-Max. This might be a 1st versus 2nd generation Volt thing? For a while, I thought it might have been because of the back-up camera in my Volt, but even the times I've looked over my shoulder rather than relying on the back-up camera felt better than in the C-Max. In the C-Max, I feel like I am looking through a portal with huge C-pillars blocking a significant portion of the view, and I feel like I'm missing whatever might be on the ground within six feet of the rear of the car.

Either way, it's the fuel economy that surprised me the most. I would have expected a pure hybrid to get better gasoline fuel economy than the Volt, but that has not been the case. It has been +/- 2% of the Volt in every type of driving (city, highway, mixed).

It's also nice to know that the keyless entry (and ignition?) is an option, but it seems ridiculous that Ford would make someone pay extra for that.
 

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I've not driven the CMax but here's my thoughts on your points from the POV of a Fusion Energi - admittedly quite a kind of different car though.


If you leave the dial in the "auto" setting, it's fully automatic.


I believe these are options - at least the ignition is.


Agreed - my Fusion Energi has much better front visibility


Meh. I find driving in "L" feels about the same as it did in the Volt, but I don't do it often.


True, but the Energi's are plugin hybrids, not EREV's - they don't really try to compete in that aspect.


How are you pulling the lifetime fuel economy, I don't see that on the dash menus? I find that I end up with about the same MPG as I got with my 2013 Volt.

FWIW, the fit and finish of my Fusion Energi (SE Luxury model) seem to be on par or better than the 2013 Volt.

All this being said, I do miss the EV drive quality of the Volt - when my Fusion lease is up next fall I may go back to the Volt and tell the kids to suck it up in the back seats! ;)
Ford took out the lifetime summary report on hybrid and plug-in cars built after June 30, 2013. No reason given, but a lot of people on the C-Max Forum were upset about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ford took out the lifetime summary report on hybrid and plug-in cars built after June 30, 2013. No reason given, but a lot of people on the C-Max Forum were upset about it.
Yeah. I had no clue about the background or history. All I know is that when I shut off the car, the trip mileage pops up for a second. Then it stitches over to the lifetime fuel economy. For our C-Max, it is 40.1 mpg.
 

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It's also nice to know that the keyless entry (and ignition?) is an option, but it seems ridiculous that Ford would make someone pay extra for that.
It was standard on the Energi. It was also an option on Mercedes and BMW. My Z4 has it but the AMG does not.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
It was standard on the Energi. It was also an option on Mercedes and BMW. My Z4 has it but the AMG does not.
Ah. It looks like it was an option on the C-Max hybrid. It's still hard for me to get used to. Every time I get in the car, I have to lean over, scoot up, and dig my keys back out of my pocket. :/
 

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I think the C-Max Energi is about to be doomed due to the release of the Prius Prime, for all except those who absolutely need a 5th seat.
 
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