The 2016 Ford C-Max Hybrid remains an attractive alternative to mundane gas-electric hybrids or other similarly sized hatchbacks. The surprising enthusiastic driving character, decent fuel economy, and low starting price place the Ford C-Max Hybrid nearly in a class of its own considering its lively driving traits, wagon-like proportions, and tall stature much like a compact SUV.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2016 Ford C-Max Hybrid is classified as either a wagon or four-door hatchback with seating for up to five. The Ford C-Max comes in two trim levels, the SE and SEL, which start at $25,045 and $28,045, respectively. A plug-in hybrid version of the Ford C-Max, dubbed the C-MaxEnergi, is also available starting at $32,645.

Our C-Max of choice, the Hybrid in SEL trim, adds the recently updated Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen combining GPS navigation in addition to the SE’s standard Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity with smartphone app integration, Sync voice command system, and six-speaker audio system with USB and auxiliary interfaces. Other features we like as part of the Ford C-Max SEL's equipment are:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Heated front seats
  • Reverse sensing system
  • 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat
  • Power-adjustable and heated exterior review mirrors
  • Fog lights
  • Intelligent access with push-button start

Selecting the Ford C-Max SEL trim also opens up the availability of many other desirable options, such as a rearview backup camera, hands-free operation of the optional power liftgate, HD radio, an upgraded Sony audio system with nine speakers, active park assist, and ambient interior lighting. Many of the available features mentioned can be bundled in separate available option packages.

Performance Pros

ford c-max hybrid

The 2016 Ford C-Max exhibits a livelier driving characteristic than comparable hybrids. The initial, instant torque from the two electric motors helps to get things moving while the 2-liter four-cylinder engine with 141 horsepower works through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for a seamless transition of power to the front wheels. Total power output from the system equates to 188 horsepower, enough to reach 60 mph from a standstill in 8.1 seconds, about two seconds quicker than the Toyota Prius.

  • Decent acceleration for a hybrid with quick response to throttle inputs.
  • Communicative steering.

Performance Cons

  • Braking feel and performance aren't assuring, with longer than desirable stopping distances.
  • Combined EPA-estimated fuel consumption at 40 mpg (42 mpg city/37 mpg highway

Interior Pros

  • An elevated driving position gives drivers an enhanced view of the road and a better sense of vehicle control.
  • The updated Sync 3 infotainment system has a higher level of user-friendliness through smartphone-like gesture controls and revamped menu sets.
  • Front and rear legroom are generous for its segment.

Interior Cons

  • Cargo area, at 24.5 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks up, us less than the comparable wagons and small crossovers.
  • Audio controls in the base C-Max SE are cumbersome to use.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

To us, the 2016 Ford C-Max Hybrid exhibits surprising driving characteristics that are uncommon for a wagon/hatchback hybrid vehicle.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Overall fuel mileage estimates are far off from what you would expect in a competitor to the Toyota Prius. The 42 mpg highway and 37 mpg city figures can easily be had in similarly-sized non-hybrid sedans and hatchbacks.

The Bottom Line

The 2016 Ford C-Max Hybrid is an excellent alternative to vehicles like the Toyota Prius if you place a higher value on performance over fuel economy and ample cargo space.