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2013 Ford C Max Review

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The latest Ford vehicle I am reviewing is the 2013 Ford C-Max.  After letting Toyota kind of own the hybrid market with it’s Prius, Ford decided to make an excellent hybrid of it’s own.  Two models are headed to dealerships: the C-Max hybrid in September and, a few months later, the plug-in C-Max Energi with a larger battery pack for more electric-only driving.

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I tested a Ford C Max SEL which has leather (heated) seats, keyless start, and the MyFord Touch system.  The model as tested lists at $30,199. With extra options, the price tag can rise past $35,000.  

Before I get into it, one thing that I realized this week is not all people know what a hybrid is or how it works. The difference in a hybrid engine and a standard engine is this – the gasoline engine works in tandem with a two-motor, continuously variable planetary-gear transmission that uses one electric motor to provide traction power to the wheels and one motor to change the C-Max’s battery is a compact, air-cooled 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack mounted under the cargo-area floor and comprised of dozens of cylindrical cells from Sanyo Corporation.  Let’s hope they work better than my Sanyo Sportster.

The result is that when you start the car, you hear nothing other than the fan.  With the Ford Explorer, the keyless entry worked poorly and I have had the same result because it wouldn’t recognize the FOB.  With the C Max, there is no noise because the engine is being powered by that battery pack.  It’s both initially alarming and amazing.  It feels like you are driving the car of the future.

When you get in and are 6’4, you are amazed at how big the car is.  I have always wanted to buy a Ford Grand Marquis and take a summer and explore the #1 Highway and Route 66.  If I was going to do it today, I would buy a Ford C-Max.  Considering the far is small on the outside, it is quite large on the inside with lots of storage space to keep kids, dogs, and gear in.  

In someways it is a bit of a competitor with my the Ford Escape (click here to let you know how much I loved that crossover).  While running some errands with it, we unintentionally parked it beside a 2013 Ford Escape.  Right beside each other you realize that you are not giving much up in terms of space between the C Max and Escape.

As for as in car experience, it was positive.  While I have long had a car charger for my iPhone, the cigarette lighter doesn’t drive enough volts to it to charge it quickly.  In the C Max I would toss my iPhone into the arm rest compartment and it would be charged up in no time.  The only odd part of it was that when the car would start up with the iPhone plugged in, it would start playing my podcasts that I had downloaded to the phone and not the previously playing Sirius Radio.

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The MyFord Touch continues to baffle me.  I have had quite a few issues with the Touch system in each car I have reviewed.  In the Escape it would often talk over a block to switch from the backup camera to the navigation screen.  In the Edge it was incredibly sluggish, a feature that was shared with the Explorer.  In the Ford Escape, it had problems syncing both mine and Chris Enns phone until it just mysteriously started working.

On Saturday night, the Sync just stopped working for some reason while I was driving home from Walmart.  Then the touch screen froze.  I got home, turned off the car and the screen was still on.  20 minutes later, it was still on and I realized that I was going to have a) a dead battery or b) in my neighbourhood, a broken into car.  I wasn’t happy.

I went online to see what the problem is that I saw that MyFord Touch freezing up is a fairly common problem and pretty easily fixed if I wanted to swap out fuses.  I did not but I read of some other solutions that involved driving, waiting, chanting, doing a rain dance, more driving, chanting, and turning off the car.  Since none of these needed a dealer or involved me doing anything to the car, I chose that route and hoped for the best.  

After about 30 minutes the MyFord Touch reset itself.  As a reviewer I found the problem a little irritating as I don’t have a dealer relationship but I took some time to think about it as an owner and I don’t think it would be that bad.  The fix appears to be quite easy (pop some fuses out, wait a few minutes, put them back in) and then all I would have to do is resync my phone.  There are apparently some apps on the Ford website that can induce a reboot and if that is the case, I would just keep a thumb drive in the console.  

So normally you would think that something that happened during a review period would be even worse.  In this case, if I was the owner, I don’t think it would bother me.  Software bugs are a part of our life right now.  Even my Nike Fuel Band needed a firmware update.   Of course with the system being powered by Microsoft, you almost expect the car to have a CTRL-ALT-DELETE key to come installed. 🙂  I tend to think that many of these problems will get worked out in the next software update.  Of course like all software updates, that can bring new problems.  During this I was also thinking, while this is annoying, I would hate for this to happen while flying a F-35 Lightening II which has a lot more complicated software and is, you know, a plane designed to fly into hostile airspace.

The only other bad thing about the car can be chalked up to karma.  After testing several cars with heated seats and then quietly turning them up while we drive on the unsuspecting passenger, both Wendy, Mark, and some friends got me with it.  It’s a lot nicer feature when it happens to someone else.

The Hybrid Experience

I really enjoyed driving this hybrid.  Like all Ford Eco vehicles, the leaves appearing and disappearing according to how you drive but for me, the best part of the hybrid experience was a summary screen that showed my fuel usage, efficiency, and mileage at the end of each trip.  It left me thinking as I got out of the car, how that trip could have been more efficient and as I got back in, it made me think how to do this trip better.  I actually walked more and drove less.  I don’t know what that does the Ford C Max sales if it encourages us to drive less but I liked it.  It is something that I would love to see in every vehicle.

A combination of driving less and the hybrid motor meant that I used less than half the fuel that we would normally use in a week.

The rated MPG for the C Max is 47/47 (US) mile per gallon city/hwy EPA-rated.  If you take a look at Fuelly, you will see some real world mileage numbers for a variety of Ford C Max owners.   As you can see, they range from a low of 33 to a high of 48 mpg with the majority averaging around 40 mpg which was a little less than what we got.  I was impressed.  The EPA rated MPG of 47 was higher than the Toyota Prius but the Fuelly numbers show a different story.  It’s an issue that has caused Ford some problems but the National Post suggest the way that the EPA calculates fuel economy is “asinine” and inaccurate.

So, why is there such a vast discrepancy? That I cannot state for sure, although the tests used to generate the “official” federal numbers are asinine, particularly when it comes to calculating the highway consumption figure. I quote: “The highway test simulates a 16-km trip with an average speed of 77 km/h and a top speed of 97 km/h.” Ask yourself, when was the last time you drove on the highway following this guideline? I never have because it could involve getting run over by a tractor trailer — to my mind, that sort of highway speed should be classified as dangerous driving.

That being said, when I was out on the highway and hit the cruise, the Ford Eco engine would kick in and I burned very little fuel at 100 kph.  Low RPMs and almost no engine noise even though the 2.0L/188 hp engine is doing almost all of the work.   Because of it’s larger size and larger engine, I would expect highway fuel economy to be good but not amazing, essentially because at that speed, the electric engine isn’t doing the work, the gas one is.  

The Rest of the Car

As Mark will post later tonight, the backseat experience is good.  My 13 year old had adequate foot room and as I could see on the passenger side, Oliver was able to reach the back of his mother’s seat with his feet.  I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

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I did plug my iPod Nano into the Sony audio system, something that I hadn’t done lately and took the car for a drive.  The sound is rich and nuanced.  While any car audio experience isn’t as rich because of the road noise, it does generate a nice rich sound.  It goes back to my initial thoughts about the car, this is a car that you will enjoy highway travelling in.

The batteries go in the back which does reduce trunk space a bit.  Here is the rear storage area with a window in it (it’s going to the cabin)

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Underneath the back compartment there is a secret compartment.  Well not secret but a good place to hide Christmas gifts while you are out shopping with the family. 

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Mark said you someone could use it for contraband but my thinking if you are that bad of a smuggler, Jabba the Hut or the RCMP has tossed you in jail years ago. 

To be honest, the storage thing is really not that big of deal for me.  I drove the C Max Energi in Regina and there is less storage in it but there is still a large room to put a dog, gear, groceries, or hockey equipment.  The hidden storage compartment would be perfect for a tool kit and emergency gear.  

Would I Buy a Ford C Max?

I love the Ford Escape but I would be sorely tempted to buy a Ford C Max.  A combination of fuel efficiency and so much interior room would make up for the Escape’s all wheel drive.  More importantly I think Wendy liked the C Max more so it may be a decision that is out of my hands.  If you are thinking of a hybrid or just a new car, head down to your local Ford dealer and make sure you take a test drive.  It’s worth checking out.

Review of 2013 Ford Escape

For the last couple of weeks I have been reviewing and test driving a 2013 Ford Escape, compliments of Ford Canada.

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It’s not the first time I had seen a Ford Escape.  I was a part of the Escape with Ford event last summer, a day I called the greatest day in my life.  My wife and kids weren’t impressed.  I still stand by my statement.

The Ford Escape I had was a black 2013 Titanium edition.  It’s hard to describe my first impressions because I already loved the vehicle.  So here is what I liked about the SUV.

  • I am 6’4″ tall.  I am comfortable in it despite it being a crossover.  Lots of leg and head room.
  • I didn’t have my dog Maggi in the car but there would have been lots of room for her in the back.  Maggi is a Lab/Weimaraner cross and is a big dog.  It would have been perfect to take her to the lake for the weekend.  Knowing Maggi, she would have tried to take the passenger seat and have Wendy in the back but whatever works.
  • The traction control is quite incredible.  In Mayfair and all over the city, the streets are deeply rutted with ice and are quite dangerous to drive on.  The Ford Escape shows how hard the traction control is working and it was at work driving through our side streets.  One morning last week while driving 20 kph down Avenue E, the SUV in front of me driving the same speed went sideways in the ruts.  The Ford Escape didn’t move at all.  Traction control works amazing.  It’s one of those things I don’t think you would think of in a test drive but then when driving it prevents a collision.
  • Speaking of collisions.  While at the Escape with Ford event, we did a high speed driving course and one of the parts was collision avoidance.  When swerving at high speed, the Escape actually settles down for more control.  It’s cool on a closed course but amazing when you are driving along Circle Drive doing the speed limit and someone decides to cross three lanes of traffic at about half your speed.  I had Wendy and the boys in the back, hit the brakes and swerved to avoid the idiot.  Despite hitting the brakes and swerving hard to avoid the accident and other cars, the Escape never lost control for a second and I am not sure the boys realized how close we were to a serious accident.  As I said to Wendy, “This thing just saved us from being seriously hurt”.   I have never cared that much about safety features until I tried the Escape. 
  • I am a big Ford MyTouch fan.  So are my kids.  I turn on the navigation screen and Oliver is fascinated the entire time we are in the car.  He actually asked if we could go for a drive so he can watch the “Ford TV”.  Whatever works folks, whatever works. 
  • It has a USB charger built in.
  • Since I don’t use the Ford Sync that much, it starts out like a therapy session.  I ask it one thing and it says, “did you mean…”  Its like having a therapist in your car.  After two weeks I am communicating with Samantha a lot better (apparently that is what the voice is named according to Ford)
  • It does come with Sirius Satellite Radio which is awesome.  A commute is made tolerable because of ESPN Radio.  I don’t know if I drive enough to make it worthwhile in the long term but I love it when I have it.
  • After I bought my Bose headphones, I started to listen to my music in a whole new way which was a good way of listening to the stereo in the car.  It is the Sony factory system and I really enjoyed it.  Using the Ford MyTouch screen in the car, it is easily customizable.  After a couple of minutes of changing the preferences, I was able to get an amazing sound from it.  
  • The kick lift gate.  Here is another feature I was introduced to at the Escape with Ford event.  We played a game of how quick we could carry a box and get it into the back of the SUV.  The rear lift gate can be opened by a kicking motion.  At the time I thought it was a stupid feature but again, you are surprised at how awesome of feature it is in the real world.  
  • The Ford Escape’s soul is a sports car.  At the Escape with Ford event, we got to push the Escape’s to the limit on the closed course.  Around town I drove it pretty conservatively (my fuel efficiency was quite a bit higher than Chris Enns.  Of course the flip side is that the Ford Sync always seemed sad when I got in instead of Chris.
  • A friend of mine is going through an illness making him very sensitive to the cold.  He was talking about how awesome heated seats are in his car because they keep him warm until the heater starts to kick out heat.  I never thought of it but the seats do make a big difference on a cold Saskatchewan morning.  For those of you not from Saskatchewan, some of our mornings are -40 and it can stay that way for weeks at a time.  Heated seats make a difference. 
  • A bonus from the heated seats is that I can easily turn up the seat without the passenger knowing it.  There is some comedy gold there folks.
  • I did have it through two snow storms and you would never have known it was anything less than summer driving conditions.  With traction control it never slid or lost control.   It’s an ideal SUV for winter conditions.

Some random thoughts based on my experience with the Ford Escape

When I picked up the Escape from Chris Enns, he mentioned that the Ford Sync wasn’t syncing with his iPhone.  This was bad as Chris is one of Saskatoon’s Alpha Geeks and if he couldn’t fix it, it was broken.  It would not do it with mine either.  I looked around the Ford MyTouch, found the master reset and rebooted the Sync.  It still would not sync.  It didn’t sync with Wendy’s Android either.  

One day I left work right after Pope Francis was named pontiff and it recognized my phone.  Coincidence or divine intervention?  The Vatican just says that the miracle is being attributed to St. Francis.

The collision avoidance sensors get dirty and covered with grime and ice in Saskatoon’s winters.  When that happens, they beep.  A lot.  Kind of like this.  BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.  

Then the next time you are stopped at a light.


That starts


to get under


your nerves











I finally just tossed a micro fibre cloth in the Escape and would wipe the sensors off every day or so.  On a totally unrelated note, I have no idea where Wendy’s micro fibre cloth went.

The kids (Mark and Oliver) didn’t like the lack of heating in the leather rear seats.  They were actually fine with it until they realized Wendy and I had heated leather seats.  The remedy of this is not to take the kids car shopping.

The Ford MyTouch is a bit sluggish.  I thought it was my Ford but according to the interweb it’s the software.  I know it’s hard to believe that Microsoft would ship sluggish software….

Specifications (snagged from Car and Driver)

  • VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door crossover
  • ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled inline-4, aluminum block and head
  • Displacement: 122 cu in, 1999 cc
  • Power: 240 hp @ 5500 rpm
  • Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
  • Wheelbase: 105.9 in
  • Length: 178.1 in
  • Width: 72.4 in Height: 66.3 in
  • Curb weight: 3804 lb
  • Zero to 60 mph: 7.0 sec
  • Zero to 100 mph: 19.6 sec
  • Street start, 5–60 mph: 7.5 sec
  • Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.5 sec
  • Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.8 sec
  • Standing ¼-mile: 15.3 sec @ 90 mph
  • Top speed (gov ltd): 118 mph
  • Braking, 70–0 mph: 172 ft
  • Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g

This is one of my favourite vehicles that I have ever gotten behind the wheel of.  It’s a powerful, quick, and responsive SUV which is big enough for my family, whether around town or on a longer road trip.  It’s also one of those cars that unless you test drive it during a blizzard, you won’t realize how incredible it is until that first winter or first time you need to brake and steer more aggressively than you thought possible.  There is a lot more to this SUV than a test drive will show and I am glad I was able to have it for a couple of weeks.