2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid SE: Ford’s fun-to-drive hybrid [Review]

[photos: Arv Voss]
Ford’s Blue Oval team continues their focus and commitment to accelerating to accelerating the constant quest for improved fuel economy, which began in 2013 with the introduction of two new C-Max models: the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid. The models employed the next generation of Ford’s powersplit technology, that allows electric mode operation at higher speeds over other competitive vehicle brands.


2017 Ford C-MAX Hybrid vehicles headline Ford’s transformed model lineup one third of which features a model with 40 mpg or more. Both C-MAX Hybrids are based on the company’s C-segment architecture continuing the company’s dedicated hybrid vehicle line and their MAV (multi-activity vehicle) line in North America and the C-MAX stable achieves impressive fuel efficiency and range figures with no sacrifice in driving performance.

Ford currently holds roughly 500 patents covering technologies in its electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles like C-MAX Energi in addition to several hundred patent-pending applications, and with 20 years of Ford research and innovation behind the software and hardware technology driving them, the C-MAX vehicles also offer a proven design and nameplate. C-MAX hybrids are built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., with production powered in part by one of the largest solar energy generator systems in the state.


[photos: Arv Voss]
The focus of this review is on the 2017 Ford C-MAX Hybrid SE, which is powered by a forward transversely mounted 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine with intake variable camshaft timing and sequential multiport electronic fuel injection. Horsepower is rated at 188 with torque rated at 129 pound feet. The gasoline engine is paired with a Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous motor. that delivers 118 horsepower and 117 pound feet of torque. The combined system’s total power output is 188 horsepower. Energy is transmitted to the front wheels through a HF35 eCVT hybrid powersplit transaxle.

C-MAX hybrids provide Ford’s next-generation powersplit architecture allowing the electric motor and gasoline-powered engine to work either together or separately to maximize efficiency. The engine also can operate independently of vehicle speed, charging the batteries or providing power to the wheels as needed. The motor alone can provide sufficient power to the wheels in low-speed, low-load conditions and work with the engine at higher speeds.

In the C-MAX Hybrid, the lihium-ion battery pack is recharged when the gasoline engine is in operation, and the regenerative braking system is able to recapture more than 95 percent of the braking energy that would otherwise be lost, and can use that power to help charge the battery. C-MAX Hybrid requires no plug-in charging.

My test 2017 Ford C-MAX Hybrid came in SE trim with the exterior finished in tinted Ruby Red metallic exterior and a Charcoal and Black leather interior. The base price was set at $24,125 while the options and destination charge elevated the final sticker to $26,990.

The C-MAX Hybrid is extremely versatile, with reconfigurable seating and cargo arrangements, and in terms of its performance, it may driven in a modest and economical fashion or it may be prodded with gusto. The latter scenario delivers a healthy and pleasing growl from the gas engine, which is kind of unexpected from a hybrid vehicle. Acceleration is brisk and, handling characteristics of the C-MAX register in the sporty column.



The C-MAX Hybrid is visually pleasing in a five-door hatch configuration that comfortably seats five with a split fold-flat second row seat and appears as a sort of mini-wagon which Ford refers to as a MAV (Multi Activity Vehicle). The C-MAX line leads off with Ford’s a revised signature grille for 2017, which is not unlike that of Aston Martin, and features a high roof design that delivers a higher command-style seating position instead of a cockpit-type. Headlights and taillights have also been redesigned. C-MAX Hybrid provides 54.3 cubic feet of space behind the first row and 24.5 cubic feet behind the second row. Ride quality is satisfying as well, with accommodations for five to travel in comfort.

Both safety and technology abound in the C-MAX line: the newest version of SYNC® with MyFord Touch®; the next generation of SmartGauge® with EcoGuide; Brake Coach; the available MyFord® Mobile smartphone application; MyKey® teen safety feature, SYNC 911 Assist™ and seven airbags; Curve Control; Torque Vectoring Control; and Electric Power Steering.


The C-MAX line features the company’s hands-free liftgate that provides quick and easy access to the cargo area without ever needing to fumble for keys. A gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper opens the liftgate when used in combination with a key fob the user keeps in his or her pocket or purse that tells the car it’s OK to engage. The liftgate may be closed in the same manner.

[photos: Arv Voss]
TFLCAR’s TAKE: The C-MAX Hybrid may appear small at first glance, but it’s definitely big on delivering the amenities and performance often only found in larger, more expensive vehicles, and the fact that it is a Hybrid only adds to its overall appeal. Sure, larger vehicles are offered if needed, but the 2017 Ford C-MAX Hybrid delivers outstanding fuel economy and a lot of value in an affordable package.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid SE

  • Base Price: $24,120, Price as Tested: $26,990
  • Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder Atkinson cycle with intake variable camshaft timing (VCT) and sequential multiport electronic fuel injection. Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous motor.
  • 118 horsepower @6,000 rpm. /117 lb.-ft. torque Total system power=188 hp
  • Torque (ft./ lbs.): 129 @ N/A rpm
  • Transmission: CVT hybrid powersplit transaxle
  • Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive
  • Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson strut with 25.5mm stabilizer bar and gas pressurized shocks.
  • Rear – Control Blade multilink with 22mm stabilizer bar and gas-pressurized shocks
  • Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs with four-sensor, four wheel anti-lock braking system, electronic stability control and ESC and regenerative braking system
  • Tires: Michelin Energy Saver A/S 225/50 R17
  • Wheelbase: 104.3 inches
  • Length Overall: 173.6 inches
  • Width: 72.0 inches
  • Height: 63.9 inches
  • Curb Weight: 3,607 lbs.
  • Turning Circle: 38.4 ft.
  • Fuel Capacity: 13.5 gallons
  • EPA Mileage Estimates: 42 mpg city / 38 mpg highway