I've been test driving a Ford C Max Energi Hybrid for the last six weeks or so. I recently had to transition the car to the next driver. Apart from locking the keys in the car, during the transition, and having to wait an hour or so to get the keys out, the loan was an enlightening experience. I typically drive an SUV and having a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle was a bit of a change. What follows is my observations with the vehicle.My biggest observation was the drop in expenses for gas. Typically, I fill up my Ford Explorer once a week. I practically went a whole month without needing to fill up the C Max. Why was this so? First, the vehicle is an electric hybrid. Before using its gas engine, it will run off battery. I work only 4-5 miles from home. This allowed me to not have to use any gas commuting. The nicest part about this is the office where I work has a charging station. So, even though I could round trip to work and back on a single charge, I had reserved parking at the office and could charge while there, allowing me to run errands without risk of running out of battery before getting home. Even one of the grocery stores I shop at had reserved parking for electric vehicles and a charging station. I did have to get a ChargePoint card to get access to the charging station, and wish I had one sooner, but otherwise, it was great having to not visit the gas station.
My next observation was that my 2000 Ford Explorer is old. It is still running well and I'm not complaining about that, but when you go from what is now considered a low tech vehicle to nearly anything new, you get lots of bells and whistles. My Explorer doesn't even have an audio out jack to plug in an MP3 player. The C Max came with a digital dashboard with satellite radio, mapping system, reverse camera, automatic parallel parking, and Bluetooth. I don't even think I used half the options available.
A negative observation was the cargo space available. I went from an SUV to a five door hatchback. There just isn't a comparison. To make matters worse, there is a big battery in the back of the C Max. Of course, you're not going to get a C Max if you need the cargo space. It was just something I had to get used to if I needed to run to the hardware store to buy anything.
Overall observation of driving the vehicle... the car has decent pickup. However, if you speed up too quickly the gas engine kicks in, reducing energy efficiency and using up the gas. I found myself driving differently with the electric car. Letting the car park itself felt just weird. I parallel park good enough and only used it once. Using the hands-free, foot activated lift-gate was useful but I found myself wanting to make sure the car was locked more when I wasn't in it. Otherwise, someone just walking by could theoretically open the hatch. They would have to put their foot under the hatch to open but that could just be my paranoia. I liked all the newly available electronics.
It was sad to see the Ford C Max go in the end. I would have loved to have kept it around longer. If I ever consider downsizing my vehicle, the C Max is definitely something to consider. For now, I like the cargo space and the extra weight of the larger vehicle during New England's winters.
Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product for the purpose of this review. All opinions stated are my own and may differ from yours. See my disclosure policy for more information.