As part of its commitment to sell a broader selection of fuel-saving hybrid and electric-powered vehicles, Ford launched the 2019 C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid and it’s no-plug sibling, the C-Max Hybrid. The C-Max is an American version of the European five-passenger C-Max that shares its underlying global C platform and many key components with the Ford Focus. “C” refers to an international size class, which in the U.S. falls into the compact class. In Europe, the C-Max is called a multipurpose vehicle (MPV), while most Americans will dub it a hatchback.
The C-Max Energi competes in the small niche of plug-in hybrid vehicles — only nine models available. Sales have held steady since its introduction and it’s the fourth best selling plug-in hybrid. Essentially, the 2015 C-Max Hybrid Energi is the same car as when it was introduced and continues to be offered in only one trim level. It has a MSRP of $32,995, including an $825 destination charge. That’s $750 less than the 2014 edition. What Makes It GoPlug-in hybrids are two cars in one, battery-electric and gasoline-electric hybrid. The C-Max Energi’s powertrain starts with the hybrid system from the C-Max Hybrid. It employs a lean-burning Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, scaled down from the 2.5-liter version in the Fusion Hybrid. Ford rates the four’s output at 141 horsepower and 129 pounds-feet of torque.
The engine shares motivation tasks with a 118 horsepower AC electric traction motor that generates 117 pounds-feet of torque. When working together, the two power sources deliver 188 system horsepower and an estimated 200 pounds-feet of torque. (Ford doesn’t publish combined torque numbers.) A planetary gear set transmits power output of the engine, motor or the combination of both to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT) that directs the power to the front wheels. Operation of the hybrid system yields an EPA fuel economy rating of 40 mpg city/36 highway and 38 combined.The C-Max Energi exchanges the standard hybrid’s 1.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion traction battery pack with a much larger, 7.6-kwh battery in the cargo area. Tethered to a standard 120-volt outlet, recharging a depleted battery takes seven hours. C-Max Energi buyers would be well served to have a 240-volt recharging unit installed which reduces recharging time to three hours. There are three selectable driving modes that allow drivers a choice of when and where to use electric power via a button on the center console.
In EV Auto, the default mode, the Energi operates as a standard hybrid, blending electric and gas engine power as appropriate. EV Now is all-electric driving until the battery is depleted, then automatically reverts to hybrid mode. EV Later operates as a hybrid and reserves battery-pack for later use. The larger battery provides an electric-only driving range of 19 miles. The EPA’s miles-per gallon equivalent (MPGe) rating is 95 MPGe city/81 highway/88 combined. Total driving range is 550 miles. Euro-Influenced StylingC-Max styling is heavily influenced by the Iosis MAX concept unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. The design was created by Ford’s European design group and follows the company’s “kinetic” styling themes. Up front, a large, lower, inverted trapezoid grille and small upper grille have become signature design elements of Ford cars. Long flowing headlights establish an athletic look and the short, sculpted hood leads into a sharply raked windshield.
Outer corners of the bumper boast eye-catching fog lights that direct the eye to prominent front wheel arches. Standard 17-inch aluminum wheels and 50-series tires do an effective job of filling the fenders. The profile of the steeply raked windshield continues with a sweeping, coupe-like roofline that ends with a strong-rising C-pillar. The shape is not only striking, but plays a major role in the C-Max’s aerodynamic drag coefficient of just .30. At the business end are an upright tailgate and taillight shapes that mimic the headlights. The only attribute that distinguishes the Energi from its sibling is the round “filler door” on the left front fender. A four-element LED light ring surrounds the perimeter of the port, lighting up in segments as a visual cue to let the driver know the battery’s charge status upon parking the vehicle and plugging it in.