Driving Impressions

By August 18, 2013

Driving the C-MAX is similar to driving just about any other hybrid car. It's smooth and quiet, and switches between gas and electric power nearly seamlessly. Energi models have three drive modes: Auto EV, which will automatically switch between electric and gas modes to optimize fuel economy; EV Now, which runs the vehicle purely on electricity, and EV Later, which will operate the car like a traditional hybrid and turn off the all-electric capability.

Active noise cancellation is standard on the C-MAX. Microphones in the cabin monitor road and wind noise, and send noise cancellation waves as needed through speakers in the doors. We found this worked very well, and on a competitive drive loop, we found the C-MAX Energi much quieter than the Prius plug-in.

Thanks to instant torque from the electric motor, the C-MAX is peppy off the line, and acceleration adequate in other scenarios. The eCVT operates smoothly, although it lacks the changing gears feeling of a traditional automatic transmission. The screen on the left side of the speedometer told us when we were driving in a way that maximized energy savings, and when we could do better.

Ride quality is firm, but not overly stiff. We found it surprisingly softer and more compliant than the Prius. Steering is comfortable, and we didn't notice any egregious body roll while weaving through turns along the Northern California coastline. Braking is confident although a tad grabby, as is characteristic of regenerative brakes.