“To the mountains!” I proclaimed to myself, not quietly enough. The office paused momentarily before key taps and paper shuffling resumed.
My friend Conal had just asked a dozen of his closest friends, myself included, to join him at his family’s Canmore home for the weekend! Just like that, the stage was set for a weekend road trip to the ever-imposing Rockies. Our chariot for the 900 kilometer (555 mile) round-trip? The all-new, niche-defying (but quasi-Prius-fighting) Ford C-MAX, an all-new vehicle for 2013. Then…
Just like that, 50 hours after we left Edmonton, we were home again. In between, we skied, hiked, died of laughter playing Cards Against Humanity, baked oatmeal cookies from scratch, teased each other about budding romances, relieved hundreds of glass bottles of their contents, and used only 58L of gas.
The weekend was a perfect opportunity for us to let off some steam, grow closer, and enjoy Ford’s foray into the growing market of family-oriented green vehicles.
Without further ado, here are the 5 C’s of C-MAX:
Holding a conversation between front and back seat passengers, even with three other strongly-voiced young men, can be a challenge at highway speeds. Not so in the C-MAX. Despite the potentially echo’y hatchback design and unlike the hollow GMC Sierra we took on a trip to Canmore-neighbouring Banff last year, the C-MAX allowed the four handsome gents assembled in our mountain-bound machine to discuss Israel’s Better Place, Obama’s new cabinet appointments, and Google vs. Apple. The enlightened conversation was not unlike a Brothers Dushenski Podcast. In fact, if we’d had my brother Lawrence in the car, we could’ve replicated Episode 18 when he and I did our only non-Skyped podcast in Arad, Israel, partly in our Mazda5 rental car and partly in a crazed supermarket. Needless to say, I crave good conversation like pubescent teens crave each other and the C-MAX made it happen. Big points here.
I’ll proudly admit to being from the James May School of Vehicle Suspension; that is, I much prefer a car to be compliant rather than “sporty”. Low-profile tires and red springs are big turn-offs for this avowed urbanite. Blessedly, the C-MAX comes fitted with Michelin X-Green All-Season tires and a brilliantly balanced suspension that was ever so composed over the mid-winter moonscape of urban Edmonton, Highway 2 between Edmonton and Calgary, and Highway 1 between Calgary and Canmore. I clenched my pilates-toned buttocks every time we neared a frost-heaved crest in the road, worrying that our coffees were about to fly high into the air, but for not. A gentle flow was all we ever felt.
The raised seating position of the C-MAX, far higher than quasi-competitors like the Prius and Golf Wagon TDI, meant a more ergonomic ingress, egress, and driving position. As someone who has spent the last 9 months in physio for neck and back problems resulting from blogging, tweeting, and poor weight lifting technique, the C-MAX was the most comfortable car to live with since the ingenious Fiat 500. The headroom, even with the seats in their highest positions and nary a sub-6-foot frame to be found, was hugely impressive. Not only did we all fit, but we felt relaxed. Had we been in the Focus, we would’ve felt far more claustrophobic (or romantic, as the case may be).
With a 40/20/40 split-folding rear bench, the four of us might’ve squeezed into the C-MAX with our ski gear inclus. With the standard 60/40 bench, however, we pawned the long stuff (skis, boards) onto our host’s Thule-equipped Honda Odyssey and made the journey with just our weekend bags and lanky bodies. Though filled to the brim and obstructing visibility out the rear, the C-MAX made it happen.
3. C Platform
Thanks to Ford CEO Alan Mullaly’s concerted global initiative, the C-MAX is closely related to other Fords we know and love, including the 2012 Focus (cheekily reviewed here) and 2013 Escape (more seriously reviewed here). This component sharing reduces costs, increases manufacturing flexibility, and makes “in-between” models like the C-MAX possible. Based on the New Global C-Segment Platform, the C-MAX sits taller than the Focus and shorter than the Escape while having larger windows and an airier feel than either. The C-MAX is the least sporty and most family-oriented of the lot.
Interestingly, Ford has chosen to offer the C-MAX exclusively as either Hybrid, starting at C$27,199, or Energi Plug-In Hybrid with up to 43km of gas-free driving from its 7.5kWh battery, starting at C$36,999. For comparison’s sake, the Chevy Volt (reviewed here) has a 16.5kWh battery pack, more than twice that of the Energi.
Ford is definitely entering new territory with the C-MAX.
With a size in-between the Focus and Escape, you’d expect in-between purchase and running costs. Not so. The fuel economy, at 7.0L/100km (34mpg), was a wallet-endearing amount less than the 9.0L/100km (26mpg) I observed in the Focus and 13.7L/100km (17mpg) I observed in the 2.0L EcoBoost Escape. If we (inaccurately) assume similar depreciation, insurance, and repair costs, that leaves the purchase price. Roughly speaking, the gap between the Focus and Escape is C$5,500 for similarly equipped vehicles and the C-MAX slots in almost exactly in the middle. Given the improved fuel economy, attractive exterior, ergonomic interior, airiness, unpretentiousness, and uniqueness, the newest C-Platform Ford is the most compelling of the lot.
Now if MyFordTouch were just a bit easier to use…
From an automotive perspective, this weekend was about Ford’s compelling new family vehicle, but from a personal perspective, this weekend was about gratitude, smiles, and a feel-good crew.
This, certainly, was plain to C.
This vehicle was generously provided by Ford Canada for the purpose of this article.
[Photo credits: author ( Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, ]