2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid

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MSRP: $24,120 - 27,275

2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid Review

The 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid ranks low among wagons because it’s underwhelming compared to roomier, more refined rivals.




Critics' Rating: 8.2
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 8.1
Safety: 9.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy, upscale interior
  • Spry handling and quick acceleration for a hybrid
  • Less cargo room than other wagons
  • Subpar fuel economy for a hybrid

Is the Ford C-Max Hybrid a Good Car?

The C-Max Hybrid is a good car with sprightly acceleration, energetic handling, and a roomy interior with nice cabin materials. However, its fuel economy isn't quite as good as other hybrids’, and it doesn't have as much room for passengers and cargo as some other wagons.

Should I Buy the Ford C-Max Hybrid?

Though the C-Max Hybrid is a decent wagon, you're probably better off with one of its competitors. For example, the rival Ford Fusion Hybrid delivers better fuel economy. You may also want to consider a crossover like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which offers wagonlike space and utility.

Compare the C-Max Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, and RAV4 Hybrid »

Should I Buy a New or Used Ford C-Max Hybrid?

Ford made no major changes to the C-Max Hybrid for 2018. If you're open to buying a used car, you may want to consider a similar used C-Max to save money. You'll want to focus your search on a 2016 or newer model, as that's when the SYNC 3 infotainment system replaced the MyFord Touch interface. SYNC 3 earns praise for its ease of use and responsiveness, while MyFord Touch is clunky and maligned by critics.

To research some used models, check out our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid. If you decide an older model is right for you, visit our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid »

We Did the Research for You: 40 Reviews Analyzed

You can read individual car reviews from across the web and look up fuel economy and cargo space numbers on other sites, or you can get all that information right here in one place. For this overview, we gathered and analyzed 40 C-Max Hybrid reviews and included all the consumer-focused information you need to decide if the 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid is the right car for you. This 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2013 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our editorial team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. To ensure that our reviews are impartial, we don't accept pricey gifts or trips from carmakers, and a third party places the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Ford C-Max Hybrid Cost?

Starting prices for the 2018 C-Max Hybrid range from $24,120 for the base SE model to $27,175 for the Titanium trim. The C-Max's prices are in line with those of similar wagons and hybrids.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

Ford C-Max Hybrid Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Ford C-Max Hybrid or Ford Fusion Hybrid?

If you're already a fan of this automaker or just looking for a decent hybrid, consider the Ford Fusion Hybrid, a midsize car. You'll need to weigh your needs, like space and fuel economy, to choose between these two. The C-Max Hybrid has roomier, adult-friendly rear seats and much more cargo room than the Fusion Hybrid. Both models have similarly agile handling for their respective classes, but the Fusion Hybrid is slightly more fuel-efficient (43/41 mpg city/highway) than the C-Max Hybrid (42/38).

Which Is Better: Ford C-Max Hybrid or Toyota Prius v?

Shoppers drawn to the C-Max for its roomy cargo hold and daily utility may also be interested in a compact SUV like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. At 34 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, the RAV4 isn't nearly as fuel-efficient as the C-Max, but those are good numbers for any kind of SUV. With the rear seats up, the Toyota gives you more cargo space by about 10 cubic feet. Fold them down, and the difference is around 18 cubic feet. The RAV4 Hybrid’s starting price is about $3,000 higher than the C-Max’s, so you'll have to decide if it's worth it to you.

Which Is Better: Ford C-Max Hybrid or Ford C-Max Energi?

The C-Max Hybrid and the nearly identical Ford C-Max Energi have the same performance, cabin, and list of features. However, the Energi is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). It can go up to twenty miles on solely electric power before the gas engine kicks in. However, since the average driver will only save around $100 a year in fuel costs, it'll take quite a while to make up the plug-in Energi's nearly $3,000 price jump over the C-Max Hybrid. You're better off just using that extra money to add features to the C-Max Hybrid.

Compare the C-Max Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, and RAV4 Hybrid »

C-Max Hybrid Interior

How Many People Does the C-Max Hybrid Seat?

Five people can fit in the C-Max Hybrid. The front seats offer plenty of side support, and even tall adults fit in both front and back thanks to generous head- and legroom. With a high seating position, the C-Max Hybrid gives the driver a good view of the road ahead.

C-Max Hybrid and Car Seats

The C-Max Hybrid has full sets of LATCH connectors on the outboard rear seats and an additional upper tether anchor on the middle seat that you can use with the lower anchors from the outboard seats.

C-Max Hybrid Interior Quality

Upscale materials make the C-Max Hybrid's cabin feel more premium than the interiors of some rivals. The well-built cabin has an attractive design.

C-Max Hybrid Cargo Space

With a maximum of 52.6 cubic feet of cargo space, the C-Max Hybrid has less room for your belongings than most wagons. To make room for the hybrid battery pack, the load floor is fairly high, so loading your cargo can be a workout. A hands-free power liftgate is optional.

C-Max Hybrid Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The base C-Max Hybrid has somewhat clunky controls, but the available SYNC 3 infotainment system makes adjusting infotainment settings easier. It has an intuitive layout and a responsive touch screen, and you can control it by pinching or swiping like you would on a smartphone. The system also includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration that lets you use some of your phone's apps on the car's touch screen.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

C-Max Hybrid Performance

C-Max Hybrid Engine: Surprisingly Quick

The C-Max Hybrid has brisk acceleration for a hybrid, both when pulling away from a stop and when overtaking traffic on the freeway, thanks to the combined 188 horsepower of its four-cylinder engine and electric motor. A continuously variable automatic transmission comes standard, and it is loud under heavy acceleration. The transitions are seamless when the powertrain switches from electric to gas propulsion.

C-Max Hybrid Gas Mileage: Rival Hybrids Sip Less Gas

Fuel economy estimates for the 2018 C-Max Hybrid are 42 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. That's excellent for a wagon, but not great for a hybrid. Still, it's close to the estimates earned by its closest rival, the Toyota Prius v, which gets 43 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

C-Max Hybrid Ride and Handling: Spry Hybrid

Thanks to its well-tuned suspension, the C-Max Hybrid feels tight and composed when going through turns, even while driving at speed. Highway cruising is comfortable, with road imperfections smoothed out by the suspension.

The C-Max Hybrid uses regenerative brakes to slow the car. They use the spinning wheels to turn a generator that recharges the batteries while also slowing the car. Traditional friction brakes help bring the vehicle to a stop. The transition between the two types of braking may feel strange to drivers who are unaccustomed to them, but you get used to them.

Read more about performance »

C-Max Hybrid Reliability

Is the Ford C-Max Hybrid Reliable?

The 2018 C-Max Hybrid has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power. That's an average rating, and it's a typical score for a wagon.

Ford C-Max Hybrid Warranty

The 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid comes with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The C-Max’s hybrid components are covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. The C-Max Hybrid's competitors come with similar warranties.

Read more about reliability »

C-Max Hybrid Safety

C-Max Hybrid Crash Test Results

The 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid gets decent safety scores, with a four-out-of-five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The C-Max earned five stars in the side crash test and four stars in frontal crash and rollover tests. At the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2018 C-Max earns the highest score of Good in four crash tests. It receives the second-lowest score of Acceptable in the small overlap front test. Many wagon rivals earn higher crash test results.

C-Max Hybrid Safety Features

A rearview camera is the only standard safety feature in the base C-Max Hybrid SE. The Titanium trim comes with rear parking sensors, while an option package adds rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring. Many competitors have more advanced safety features, like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and active lane keep assist.

Read more about safety »

Which Ford C-Max Hybrid Model Is Right for Me?

The base C-Max Hybrid lacks many of the tech features we expect to come standard in this class, so we recommend stepping up to the better equipped Titanium trim. For a few thousand dollars more, you get the intuitive SYNC 3 infotainment system, leather seats, heated seats, and an upgraded audio system. With the Titanium model, you can also add advanced safety features like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Ford C-Max Hybrid SE

The base SE trim starts at $24,120. It comes standard with cloth upholstery, a power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, the SYNC voice recognition system, and a rearview camera.

The 201A Equipment Group ($1,200) adds a power liftgate, rear parking sensors, the SYNC 3 infotainment system, and dual USB ports. The 202A Equipment Group ($1,600) brings leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, and heated side mirrors. A panoramic sunroof is a standalone option for $1,315.

Ford C-Max Hybrid Titanium

The Titanium trim starts at $27,120 and includes features found in the SE trim. It adds leather upholstery, heated seats, two USB ports, a nine-speaker audio system, rear park assist, and the SYNC 3 system, which includes an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation.

The 301A Equipment Group ($1,600) includes active parallel park assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, front parking sensors, and a hands-free power liftgate. A panoramic sunroof is a standalone option for $1,315.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

See 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 C-Max Hybrid has lively handling, quick acceleration, and a smooth ride. Inside, it has top-notch materials, comfortable seats, and a user-friendly infotainment system. Still, it can't keep up with wagon rivals that have more cargo space, higher safety scores, and more driver assistance features. And notably, its fuel economy trails hybrid competitors.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • The C-Max Hybrid is versatile and enjoyable to drive, though fuel economy is underwhelming." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2018 Ford C-Max is a gas-electric hybrid car that offers good fuel economy and ample storage thanks to its hatchback design. … The C-Max is more athletic than the Prius, but it can't touch the Toyota's fuel economy. … Yet the C-Max has a few tricks up its sleeve, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a hands-free power-operated hatchback that rises with the swipe of your foot." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • The 2016 Ford C-MAX Hybrid continues to be a strong all-around choice for family duty. It handles better than most hybrids, has plenty of room for four (or five in a pinch), achieves only a couple of miles per gallon less than its main rival (the Toyota Prius v), and is priced right. This model is based on the compact Focus, but it rides higher and the body is taller, so passenger space in both rows is usable. One unavoidable compromise is the location of the battery pack in the cargo area, which has an impact on carrying capacity." -- Autotrader (2016)

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