It’s Earth Day. How “Green” Is the Ford C-Max?

It depends on who you ask. “Green” is subjective. There are a lot of opinions on this matter. Kelley Blue Book announced last week that the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi is the 6th most “green” vehicle, the Ford Focus Electric is 3rd, Tesla Model S 2nd and 2013 Nissan Leaf is the greenest. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has a different opinion. It was founded in 1980 as a nonprofit organization that works with business, government, various organizations and consumers to improve energy efficiency according to their website. They have another website for promoting energy-efficient cars to consumers. For 2013, they chose the thirteen “greenest” vehicles. The Ford Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid tied for positions 12 and 13. The Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and C-Max Energi didn’t even make the top thirteen list. If you’d like to know more, pay a fee and they’ll give you online access. If you live in New York or California, your taxes are subsidizing the complete report but the fee is the same, just $8.95 for 30-day access. (This is definitely not a recommendation to buy access to the report.) The C-Max Energi lost to the Fusion Hybrid for the first Canadian Green Car Award recently. Last month the Los Angeles Times listed the C-Max Energi as the car with the best gas mileage based on the EPA fuel economy (the MPGe/MPG calculation confuses the matter).

Ford and KB Homes announced the Ford C-Max Energi and KB Home’s ZeroHouse 2.0 last Friday as part of Ford’s “MyEnergi Lifestyle”. KB Homes has been building homes since 2011 which combine low energy consumption with solar panels to achieve net-zero energy usage. These homes have been built in Tampa, San Antonio, Austin, Waldorf Maryland, and San Marcos California.

It’s Earth Day. I’m not blogging much lately because I enjoy the remote canyons of the western U.S. this time of year. I’m not spending much time worrying who thinks the C-Max Energi is green either. My camp with a view last week was in a remote area of a remote park, Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

Canyonlands National Park

Backpacking in Canyonlands NP with View of Salt Creek

 

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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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C-Max Energi getting big traffic gains at KBB.com

Ford C-MAX Energi Logo

Ford C-MAX Energi getting traffic gains at KBB.com

There is a lot of increasing interest in the C-Max Energi at KBB.com.  It is up 126.7%.  This is a percent change week-over-week.  They don’t report traffic so I suspect it may not be much traffic that the increase is based on.  However, the growth is impressive.  It will be interesting to see if it continues to increase rapidly.

Kelly Blue Book (KBB.com) Hot Car Report – October 18, 2012

 

 

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