Lots of car makers offer plug-in hybrids, but today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe C-Max Energi has a rep for being one of the few that are actually kind of fun to drive. Let’s find out how energetic you may be about its price.
I am of the ilk that still calls Mopar trucks “Dodges.” That’s despite the fact that it’s been years since the company upscaled the Ram model name to full brand status. In full disclosure, it also took me forever to stop calling Nissans “Datsuns” so it’s probably just a “me” thing.
We looked at a Dodge pickup yesterday, a 1998 Dodge Dakota 5.2 Magnum if you want to be pedantic. That mid-sized truck had some attractive updates in the mechanical department but was a little rough around the edges aesthetically. That, and a general distrust of late-nineties Dodge products not wearing a Viper badge weighing down the comments, proved deleterious to the truck’s $5,000 asking price, resulting in a 54 percent Crack Pipe loss.
Despite opinions on that Dodge, pickup trucks, in general, remain popular in the U.S. That’s because we have cheap gas and love our Saturday trips to Lowes for… well, whatever. Today, however, I want us to look at a vehicle that was never all that popular. In its own way, however, it’s still passably compelling for what it is and what it does.
I’m speaking, of course, of this 2016 Ford C-Max Energi SEL hybrid. It’s probably a car tha… hey, put down those pitchforks! Extinguish those torches! Come on, seriously? That effigy doesn’t even look like me.
People, we’re doing a C-Max today and you’re just going to have to get over it. Allow me to make the case and then see how you feel. Deal?
Okay, so the C-Max is probably a car that you have forgotten ever existed. That’s too bad as if you’d cut it some slack, it’s really a reasonably roomy and capable little people mover.
Ford introduced the C-Max in 2003 as a tall version of their Focus compact. The higher roofline allowed for a raised “H-point”—the place where your hips sit—which provides a more upright seating position and hence more room within the same overall length. The first C-Max never found its way to the U.S..
Ford introduced a new version in 2010 and that debuted in the U.S. a year later as both a gas/electric hybrid ala the Prius, and a plug-in variant. These models replaced the Escape as Ford’s nod to fuel efficiency and the environment.
This C-Max is the Energi plug-in edition and that trades a few cubic feet of storage space in the boot area for an 8kWh lithium-ion battery pack that gives the car a 20-mile range on whisper-quiet electric mode. The battery can be charged via the regenerative braking system or by plugging the car into an outlet and letting it sit for a few hours.
The gas portion of the hybrid drivetrain is a 2-litre Atkinson-cycle four-pot. That pumps out a reasonable 141 horsepower all on its own. When combined with the permanent magnet AC electric motor, the combo gives you 195 horses to play with. The only transmission option was Ford’s CVT so “play” may not be the right word exactly.
That’s not to say that a C-Max isn’t a little fun to drive. The car’s European roots do show up in a fairly taut suspension and well-weighted steering. Suffice to say it’s a ton better to drive than, say, the similarly-sized Prius V.
This one, in Ingot Silver over a black interior looks to be almost as-new. All Energi models were spec’d with top of the line SEL kit so this car comes with leather seating surfaces, power windows and locks, dual-zone climate control, and heated front buckets. It also has Ford’s Sync infotainment system with navigation so it should feel sufficiently modern.
The dash features a central speedo that is bracketed by digital displays. Those give you the ability to gauge your driving efficiency by way of growing a virtual tree, the leaves emerging as you light-pedal your way around. The interior is light and airy, notwithstanding the black cabin below the shoulder line and there’s legroom galore both front and back.
Everything looks decent inside and that extends to the exterior where no major boogers are evident. The seller touts the car as being in “Great condition: 8/10 exterior 9.5/10 interior.”
This is a CPO car and carries an extended 100K warranty that one would assume is transferable. Ford also warrantied the Energi’s battery pack for 7 years or 100K so you’re covered there as well. With only 65K on the clock, it still has a ways to go on both of those fronts. The title is clear and the car has recently enjoyed an oil change, brake pad and rotor replacement, and a new set of tires on its handsome alloy wheels.
The price tag for all this is $12,000 and that’s where this C-Max really gets interesting. That price is a huge 66% reduction from its original MSRP, and that’s in just four years’ time. These may not have been the best value when new, but it’s up to us to decide how much that has changed now that some of the new has worn off.
What do you think, is this Ford hybrid worth that $12,000 asking as it sits? Or, is that a Max you wouldn’t pay?
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