Ford Fusion wins Green Car of the Year Over C-Max

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid Logo

Ford C-Max Hybrid

Over a month ago, I wrote a blog on The Green Car Journal nominating five finalists for the Green Car of the Year for 2013.  The finalists were the Dodge Dart Aero, Ford C-Max, Ford Fusion, Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv, and Toyota Prius C.  It was possible to vote online at autoblog however the winners were picked by Jay Leno, Green Car Journal, and various environmental leaders.  The final online vote was Ford C-Max 32%, Fusion 22%, Mazda CX-5 16%, Prius C 16% and Dart 15%.

The online votes didn’t sway Leno and the judges.  The winner was announced today, the Ford Fusion.

 

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How reliable is the Ford C-Max?

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

In October, ConsumerReports.org gave Ford vehicles a second-to-last ranking in predicted reliability (27th out of 28 brands sold in the U.S.)  In 2010, ConsumerReports said Ford was improving reliability and had moved into the top ten among all brands.  The organization has Toyota with the top three brands (Scion, Toyota, Lexus) in 2012.  The predicted reliability is based on feedback from subscribers owning 1.2 million vehicles.

PopularMechanics cited three reasons for the fall from top-ten to second-to-last ranking: problems with MyFord software, problems with new and updated vehicles – Explorer, Fiesta and Focus, and ConsumerReports excluded the historically reliable vehicles – Escape, Fusion, and Lincoln MKZ from the analysis – because they were redesigned for the 2013 model year.

Cars often compared with the C-Max Hybrid and Energi were given predicted reliability better than average.   The Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius Plug-in scored the best possible ranking by ConsumerReports.  The Volt and Prius V were given much better than average rankings.

According to Autoblog.com, Ford customers are complaining about the speed and ease of use of MyFord Touch.  In response, Ford will be releasing a new update for the software and extending the warranty for MyFord Touch.  The warranty will now be for five years with unlimited miles.  The software was previously included in the 36,000-mile three-year basic warranty.  Owners of hybrid and plug-in hybrids will get the updated software in the first quarter of 2013.

 

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Some Recent Reviews of the Prius Plug-in/Prius V

Although I’m a Ford C-Max enthusiast, there have been some reviews of the Prius Plug-in and Prius V published lately.  After reading (or viewing) these reviews it’s clear I’m not the only person that finds it difficult to get excited about the Prius Plug-in or Prius V.  The Prius family of vehicles has sold over one million vehicles worldwide this year.  It’s a strong competitor to the C-Max based on name recognition alone.  Here’s a few quotes from these reviews:

The Dedham Transcript, The Plug-in Might Be Toyota’s Best Prius

“When we unplug the Prius and start it—or activate it, since the gas engine doesn’t light up, at least right away—the dashboard indicates that 10 to 12 miles of electric propulsion are possible. OK, time to go sneak up on pedestrians in run-silent, nuclear-sub mode. But no; each time I rolled out of the driveway, the internal-combustion engine started almost immediately, no matter how gingerly I toed the throttle.  I was unable to go more than a mile or two on electricity only, mostly downhill…”

My Response: The C-Max Energi has an EV Now mode that provides electric-only power to drive up to 85 mph and a range of about 21 miles.  The gasoline engine won’t start until the battery power is exhausted.

Kelley Blue Book, 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Video Review

“The real reason to use the Prius Plug-in is to use less fuel, not save money.”  “The single occupant carpool lane access might well be the Prius plug-in’s greatest asset.” “Ford is also coming on strong with the Fusion and C-Max plug-in … but the Toyota Prius plug-in holds a trump card, it’s brand recognition.”

My Response: The HOV lane access in California and some states is a Plug-in advantage over the liftback Prius, but not over a C-Max Energi.  After the tax credits, a comparably equipped C-Max Energi is less expensive than the Prius Plug-in or V.  The C-Max Energi can be justified as saving money, not just fuel.

Kelley Blue Book, 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Review

“During our time with the 2012 Toyota Prius, we played with all three settings and to our surprise, found our fuel mileage easily topped EPA estimates no matter what mode we were in.”

My Response: The Ford C-Max mpg ratings in the “real-world” are discouraging.  Many reviewers and owners of the C-Max Hybrid and Energi are reporting mpg lower than EPA mpg.  I think part of the reason is the C-Max has about 50 percent more horsepower than a Prius.  The extra horsepower encourages owners to drive the C-Max like a gas vehicle, not like a Prius.  It needs to be driven like a Prius to get the stated EPA mpg.  My blog on this topic is listed here.

NY Times, And Plug-In Makes Four: Prius’s Expanding Family

“This technology gives all Priuses their telltale driving characteristics: an engine that shuts off at stoplights and performs adequately if unremarkably around town, but groans at high r.p.m. as it struggles to accelerate. Partly because of the cars’ continuously variable transmission, there is a momentary lag after you step on the accelerator before the wheels gain momentum.”

My Response: The C-Max has far more horsepower.  The C-Max Hybrid Reviews listed here and C-Max Energi Reviews listed here give me the impression the C-Max is far superior.

“With all Priuses, efficiency is the priority, not plush accommodations or a sporty character. The interior has the feel of a high-tech gizmo, though one more akin to an older PC than to the latest Mac.”

My Response: I agree with many reviewers that the C-Max has a better finish than the Prius models.  I haven’t personally been able to use enTune on the Prius and SYNC with MyFord Touch.  It could be that enTune is better.  If you have experience with both, please post a comment.

“Both the Liftback and the V wagon have a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 60-kilowatt electric motor, for total horsepower of 134. In the V, the same hybrid system needs to pull 216 more pounds, so performance can be dull.”

My Response: The C-Max has much more horsepower than the Prius V.

“But adult passengers will suffer in the back seat [of the Prius C], and the cheap ping of the closing doors — a characteristic of all the Prius models — felt even cheaper on the C. Buttons, dials and interfaces were plain. It’s what you would expect for an entry-level car, this one offered at $19,745.”

“The latest of the four Priuses — the Plug-In Hybrid — requires the most thought about whether it matches your driving pattern. Starting at $32,760, it’s the most expensive — about $7,000 more than the Liftback and nearly $13,000 more than the Prius C. (With all options, the Prius Plug-In Hybrid tops $40,000.)”

My Response: The C-Max Energi is a far better value than the Prius Plug-in.  This Edmunds.com page can be used to compare pricing.

AutomotiveAddicts.com, 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Review & Test Drive

“…driving the new Prius plug-in hybrid, with the added weight (about 330 pounds) of the larger battery pack, tends to get in the way of performance. Prius and performance go together like oil and water, even more so in the new plug-in hybrid version getting a 0-60 mph time of 11.3 seconds – a step in the wrong direction from the already lackluster time of 9.8 seconds in the standard Prius sedan.”

“Driving the Prius plug-in hybrid to the limit is almost a necessity when peculiar traffic situations demand it. The Prius has just enough power to not be dangerous when keep[ing] up with flowing highway traffic.”

Other Reviews of the Prius Plug-in

MailOnline, You can get over 100mpg in the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid – but would I buy one?

This blog was updated on November 29th, 2012 and December 16th, 2012.

 

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