A lot of articles with photos of an updated Ford C-Max that will have an Aston Martin-styled grill are circulating on the web lately. The current C-Max body, first sold in Europe in 2011, has only been in North America since last fall. Motor Trend speculates that an updated C-Max will hit Europe late this year with a 2014 update in North America. Personally, I’m more interested in five options that are available today in the 2013 Ford Fusion.
The most important to me is Cross-Traffic Alert. It’s not uncommon to have your view blocked when backing out of a parking spot in a shopping center. All you can do is go very slow and keep watching. If your luck is poor, someone will be driving far too fast in the parking lot, not paying attention and you’re in an accident before you see them. Ford’s Cross-Traffic Alert radar picks up vehicles moving at least 5 mph within 45 feet. It is part of the blind spot information system, called BLIS by Ford. If it senses this hazard, three warnings are given: an indicator lights up in the corresponding outside mirror, an audible alert is sounded and a message center warning is displayed. It works for 90-degree or angled parking.
The feature of BLIS that it is named after identifies when a vehicle enters the blind-spot zone and illuminates an indicator light on the corresponding side view mirror. A similar feature on the Mazda CX-5 does that, but also sounds a warning if you have the turn signal on and another vehicle is in your blind spot. I’d like to see it implemented like Mazda does with the additional audible warning, but the Fusion’s warning light would be a step forward.
I often drive a 300-mile stretch of just interstate. Drinks with caffeine, stopping for breaks, and a passenger paying attention all reduce the chance of fatigue causing an accident, but I’d still like to have the Ford Fusion’s Lane Keeping System (LKS) on the C-Max. A forward-facing camera detects drowsiness and at first displays a warning and sounds a chime. If the driver drifts out of the lane, the steering wheel vibrates as an added warning. LKS will provide some torque to steer the car back toward the center of the lane if the driver ignores all warnings. The driver chooses among many options including customizing the sensitivity, intensity of the steering-wheel vibration, or just provide alerts.
I like being able to set the cruise control in the city, but it’s not uncommon to have a car turn in front of me at a much slower speed. The Adaptive Cruise Control option of the Fusion detects a slower vehicle ahead, reduces speed until a safe following distance is regained and then resets the cruise to the original speed. The driver has control over many options including how the safe distance is determined.
A second feature combined with Adaptive Cruise Control is the Collision Warning System. If the car senses a reduction in traffic speed ahead which could cause a collision, a warning light is flashed on the windshield. If the driver doesn’t respond, the car pre-charges the brakes for faster braking. If the driver decelerates without the brakes quickly, the car will apply the brakes faster than the driver can move to the brake pedal. If the driver hits the brakes, they will be applied with full braking capability faster to avoid an accident.
A Fusion Energi Titanium with all of these features has an MSRP of $40,275. BLIS and LKS add $1,140 to the cost with the Driver Assist Package. Adaptive Cruise Control and the Collision Warning System add $995 more. I can only think of one other feature that I would love to have in a C-Max, a 16 kWh battery pack to take full advantage of the $7,500 federal tax credit. It would extend the EV range to more than 40 miles. With the offset of the tax credit, the price of the car wouldn’t increase much, if at all. The downside is the space consume by 8 kWh’s of lithium batteries.
What’s the most important features you would like in the next C-Max update?