2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid Performance

#4 out of 7 in 2018 Wagons

$17,120 - $19,271

2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid was new.


Performance: 8.3

The 2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid has nimbler handling and quicker acceleration than nearly every hybrid rival. Among wagons, it's one of the most fuel-efficient options available, though the C-Max Hybrid's gas mileage isn't up to snuff compared to other hybrids.

  • "With its strong acceleration, sporty steering and handling, and confident demeanor, the C-Max Hybrid stands out as a performer in a class otherwise lacking a leader." -- Edmunds
  • "The C-Max feels solid and well-planted on the road despite its compact footprint." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "… the C-MAX doesn't drive like a typical hybrid – the steering is precise, the body motions well-controlled, and, while acceleration isn't overwhelming, it has more than enough power for most driving situations." -- Left Lane News (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The C-Max Hybrid's powertrain includes a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic. The system's combined output is 188 horsepower. Fuel economy estimates for the 2018 model have not yet been released. The analogous 2017 C-Max Hybrid gets up to 42 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, which is great for a wagon but a bit below most hybrids' estimates.

The C-Max Hybrid quickly accelerates away from a stop, and it has plenty of power for driving at high speeds; it doesn't feel much different from gas-only rivals. The transitions from electric to gasoline power are smooth and unobtrusive. However, the CVT can make a lot of noise when the car accelerates quickly.

  • "This hybrid's gasoline-electric powertrain works well to provide somewhat spirited acceleration, though like other hybrids ... using an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT), there is noticeable drone under hard acceleration." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "The ability to run in electric-only propulsion mode at relatively high speeds helps the C-Max Hybrid post its impressive fuel economy numbers. Acceleration is strong for a hybrid, and highway passing will feel similar to that of equivalent gasoline-powered wagons." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "Ease into the accelerator pedal and the C-MAX pulls away quietly in electric-only mode, which is good for up to 62 miles per hour if the battery is sufficiently charged (and your right foot is very gentle). When the 2.0-liter internal combustion engine kicks in, a relatively seamless transition enables more aggressive acceleration. It's surprisingly peppy given those lofty fuel economy ratings; punch the go-pedal and this modest-looking hybrid will spin its tires off the line." -- Autotrader (2015)

Handling and Braking

The C-Max Hybrid has poised handling around corners, especially when compared to most other hybrids. The ride is quiet and comfortable, so long-distance cruises are smooth. Like most hybrids and EVs, the C-Max Hybrid has regenerative brakes that use the car's forward momentum to recharge the batteries while slowing down. Regen brakes take some getting used to if you've never driven a car with them before. The C-Max Hybrid has front-wheel drive.

  • "It produces about average stopping distances for its class, but the nontraditional hybrid braking system takes some practice, particularly when inching forward or back into a parking space." -- Edmunds
  • "For a car that prioritizes fuel efficiency, we dare say the C-Max feels playful in corners, at least compared to a Prius. On straighter paths, the C-Max is quiet and comfortable." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "One of the C-MAX Hybrid's strongest suits is a nimble driving character. When pushed, it handles tight corners skillfully, feeling more like the Focus hatchback it's based on than the tall wagon it actually is. On the highway, the cabin remains pleasantly quiet. Not many hybrids can match these qualities." -- Autotrader (2016)

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