The C-Max Energi uses the same hybrid setup and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) found in other Ford products for the past few years. Even though the notion of a plug-in car still seems exotic to some, rest assured there's nothing experimental going on. The 2-liter four-cylinder gas engine and electric motor together produce 188 horsepower and take the Energi from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, a quick time for any compact hatchback, let alone a hybrid.
On a full charge, the Energi runs on electricity only for about 20 miles, then switches to hybrid mode, where it yields 38 mpg in combined driving. The average driver will be rewarded with 88 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent), but folks who mostly make short trips (with charging in-between) can do much better. Of course, you don't have to use the plug-in feature at all, in which case the Energi functions like any other hybrid. Charging a fully depleted battery pack takes about five hours on a typical home outlet, but you can cut that time in half by using a 240-volt charging station. Note that the Energi's special battery pack cuts maximum cargo space down to about 42 cubic-feet, which is at the low end of this class.
The C-Max Energi is available in a single well-equipped trim level: SEL. You get plenty of standard trimmings, including leather seating with heat in front and driver power, keyless ignition, automatic headlamps and wipers, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth phone and audio, the MyFord Touch and Sync infotainment interfaces, and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio.
There are three progressive option packages for the Energi. Group 301A adds navigation and a nine-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio. On top of that, Group 302A gets you a rearview camera and hands-free power liftgate. Group 303A finishes things off with front parking sensor and an automated parking system. A panoramic glass roof is available on all models as a standalone option.
In full hybrid mode, the Energi actually gets about 2 mpg less than the regular C-Max. To realize the Energi's enormous gas-saving potential, your driving habits will have to include a fair number of short trips and the ability to recharge in-between.
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