2015 Ford C-Max – Go Green or Go Home

Hybrids have gone a long way since their shaky, mass-market beginnings almost 20 years ago. The 2015 Ford C-Max is one of those new age, modern day hybrids, introduced to the American market only three years ago. But let’s take a minute here to appreciate the fact that Ford actually makes good hybrids. Who knew?

If I say hybrid, most people will automatically think “Prius” or “Oh yeah, that tender-green Toyota, right?”. Because, well, it’s the most popular hybrid car on the market. So when I mention that Ford makes hybrids as well and that the one I drove isn’t half bad, everyone goes “C-What?”. Virtually nobody hears about the C-Max, because even though every time you attend a Ford event, a lot of the discourse gravitates around environmental friendly technologies and such, the brand still hasn’t quite established itself as a reference in terms of green vehicles. Yet they offer plenty of hybrids, both regular and plug-in, and even a fully electric car. When I tell people about it, that’s when I get to see the “out of service” stare in their eyes, as I open this door to a whole new world of eco-friendly possibilities. Because Ford usually equals pickup trucks and American muscle.

My previous experience with hybrids, including a Bimmer (BMW) 3-Series and a Toyota Camry, wasn’t very convincing. Hybrid back then (we’re talking two or three years ago) meant, at least in these two cases, having the start and stop technology and going on full-electric mode on very, very slow starts, at speeds of up to 50 km/h or so. Times have changed. Which is a good thing. Because now I actually feel like hybrid means something more. In fact, in the case of the 2015 Ford C-Max, hybrid also means that the electric engine not only allows you to drive in full electric mode in the city, but it also takes over from the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder petrol engine once you reach your cruising speed. So that means that even while doing Montreal-Toronto at 120km/h, you might get to watch your fuel consumption number go down. On my 200 kilometers week, I maintained a 5.6L/100km combined average. Would you believe me if I told you that the car actually does better in terms of economy when stuck in traffic than it does cruising on the highway? Well you should.

Hybrids are not meant to be exciting drives, and they are pretty successful at it. If you want a clean(er) technology that will double as a really fun ride, get a turbo-diesel. At 141hp and 129 lb-ft, don’t worry about hanging on, you’re not going anywhere fast. Especially considering that the engine is teamed with a CVT. I have already declared my hatred of CVTs. Passionate, passionate hatred. I will not retract, I will however say this: the C-Max’s CVT is okay. The lack of increasing revolutions still makes me uncomfortable and the sluggish accelerations require you to plan your moves ahead if you’re going to pass a vehicle on the road or merge on a highway.  Nothing that will make fall head over heels, other than the fuel economy numbers. Which is the whole point. I still don’t like CVT’s, but I will be honest and say I did not notice that the C-Max didn’t have a regular six or seven speed automatic transmission. You got me there, Ford.

Utility-wise, the 2015 Ford C-Max does a pretty good job. For a little over $35,000, it comes fully equipped with panoramic roof, SYNC infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen and navigation, rearview camera, power liftgate, active park assist, keyless entry, a wide array of parking sensors (that the hedge along my driveway drove nuts in a high-pitched, electronic symphony and on-camera light show) and then some. The interior configuration is similar to the Ford Escape‘s with the double-decker center console, the leather trimming and a second row of seats that won’t make passengers regret to have named you ODD (for Official Designated Driver). And also the same packaging-looking dashboard plastic and control-blocking gear shifter. Sigh. Cargo volume varies between 694 and 1,485 liters depending on whether you need to drive people around or need materials to build a deck. Think Mazda5, but without the sliding doors.

The 2015 Ford C-Max is a great urban car if you are looking for a comfortable vehicle that will get you from point A to point B using as little fuel and emotions as possible. You will probably find me shopping for a turbo-diesel, but for all of you folks for whom the statistics matter more than looks and handling, you should turn your attention to Ford and give the all-American giant a chance to show you that it can do a lot more than bulky road monsters and sports cars.

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Sabrina is a woman who loves cars, but hates writing her own biography.

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