Ford's Prius V Fighter: The C-Max Hybrid

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid
2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid.
If you were among the living in the late 1960s, you will probably remember the advertising campaign: "Ford Has A Better Idea".

Ford Brochure from 1968
1968 Ford Brochure.

In the C-Max Hybrid, Ford's Toyota Prius V-fighter, it has a different idea.  Better?  Let's see.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid
2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid.
The Prius V is such a huge sales success that Ford could have simply taken the easy route and made the C-Max as much of a knockoff of the Prius V as possible.  But they wisely chose to let their stylists go their own way, and to this writer's eye, came up with the more attractive car.

2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid interior.
The C-Max interior is much more engaging, more driver-centered than the Prius' vast expanses of plastic and digital gauge cluster in the center of the dashboard.  The design themes are familiar to anyone who has been in a Ford Focus recently.  For someone who enjoys driving, the C-Max cockpit is much more pleasant. And in terms of handling, the C-Max is considerably more involving.

The C-Max Hybrid's base price of $25,170 is $1,505 less than the Prius V base price. Our test vehicle came with Equipment Group 203A, whcih adds a power liftgate and rear parking aid, reverse sensing system, ambient interior lighting, Sync, MyFordTouch, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and satellite navigation.  The package cost is $2,290.  With $825 destination and delivery charges, the as-tested price came to $28,285.  That's a bit more than three thousand dollars below the as-tested price of the Prius V Michael tested in the fall of 2013.

EPA mileage estimates are very close between the two cars...42 city/37 highway for the C-Max Hybrid and 44/40 for the Prius V...but there's clearly an advantage to the Prius V, which also has 10 cubic feet more cargo room behind its rear seat.

On balance, the C-Max Hybrid is more different from the Prius V than it is better. It is certainly good enough to make Ford a credible player in the small hybrid market, but it will take much more to seriously threaten Toyota's dominance in that segment.