3 years of ownership update:
TL;DR: Yes, we still love it.
Yes, we would(probably will) buy another Ford hybrid, but at this point, probably a used CPO '17 C-MAX Energi SE as a second car, in a year or two.
So get a cup of coffee first. This will take a while...
Today I took our 2013 C-MAX Hybrid in for the 3rd annual oil change
1 year or 10,000 odometer miles, but the car also has an oil-life monitor via a Vehicle Health Report request to the 'SYNC lady'.
Was at 10% last time I checked a couple of weeks ago.) We drove 8500 miles in the last 12 months, including 3300 miles on a vacation from Indiana to Colorado, SD, MN, WI, & IL last summer.
Had the original dealer (Bill Estes Ford, Brownsburg IN) perform some 3 years-of-ownership/4 years since built, so it's due, regardless of miles
, maintenance: coolant change (first ever), cabin air filter change (first ever), engine air filter change (first ever), rotate & re-balance tires. Tires rotated, no rebalancing needed.
We purchased it 11 months after it was built (built April 2013, we purchased March 2014), with 133 demo miles on it.
We're at just beyond 18,000 miles now.
So how are the MPGS?
Lifetime Stats MPG on the car displays is 42.4 hybrid mpg
That's 5% optimistic, based on odometer miles driven and gallons pumped, Fuelly says we're at 40.5 mpg.
Fuelly says our last 6 years of Vibe mpg for our same driving patterns is 26.4, so the C-MAX hybrid IS about 35% more fuel efficient.
For a heavier vehicle with more passenger comfort. (Ford hybrids built 2014 and newer no longer have a Lifetime Statistics display.) You can use one of the two trip counters, but they automatically roll over and reset at 10,000 miles. Ask me how I know...
We had several reasons for purchasing THIS particular C-MAX Hybrid 3 years ago this week in 2014.
Primary reason was that our newest car was our 2003 Vibe, then 12 years old, over 100,000 miles, (built May 2002, purchased Feb 2004), we had some cash, and our older car was a 1996 Taurus. Still running, but at 18 years old then (now 21), It was time for something new and reliable.
So I started looking for Vibe-like seating/cargo flexibility, Vibe-like (Toyota) reliability, size between Vibe and Taurus, and a great price. Better gas mileage wasn't a huge priority, but Turns out most new SUV's
I looked online and found Toyota Prius V, Lexus CT200h, Subaru CrossTrek hybrid, and Ford C-MAX Hybrid. Prius V was more expensive, offered power comparable to the Vibe, and more interior space. If I hadn't driven a C-MAX first, I'd probably own one now. Lexus CT200h was more expensive, and used the same powertrain as the Prius. Subaru CrossTrek Hybrid was hard to find, and hybrid fuel economy seemed substantially lower than the others. C-MAX at the time advertised 42mpg average.
Why choose C-MAX when there are so many Prii?
I looked online at test drives. A guy named Daniel Gray is on Twitter https://twitter.com/MPGomatic
and has a YouTube channel of car test drives called MPGomatic. It was his test drive of a 2013 C-MAX Hybrid that convinced me we should look at one. He achieved 40mpg easily, and looked like he was having fun driving it. We looked. We drove. We bought.
It was a DEAL!
We got an amazing deal (they came back with an even lower price than my low-ball offer) on a 2013 SE model with Equipment Group 201A. Ambient lighting (8 colors of LED's in footwells & behind the door handles), panoramic moonroof (retracting sunshade, but glass does not open), and White Platinum tricolor paint. Out the door for under $24,000 after rebates, before sales tax. $4500 off the original sticker price of $28,500. (16% off) Ford reduced base price by $1000 on 2014's, but we still saved over $3500 over buying a 2014 configured with the same options. Still 13% off.
But DOA 4 times in the first year of ownership?
Turns out 201A (and base 200A) are the 2 most likely option groups to suffer a dead 12-volt battery issue. We had the issue too within a few weeks of purchase, and 4 times total, in the first 9 months and 4000 miles. Ford offers free roadside assistance, but this always occurred at home after being parked overnight or longer, so a fast jump-start and we were on our way. The 12-volt battery only powers the displays and computers. The Hybrid battery actually starts the engine. But the displays and computers are needed to connect the hybrid battery to the starter circuit. So I bought a $50 booster battery and have kept one in the car ever since. Ford solved our problem with multiple software updates and Customer Satisfaction programs, and the last two years have been entirely trouble-free.
Would we buy another Ford hybrid based on our own experience?
Absolutely. But realize there are WAAAAAY more hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and pure-electric options than in 2014, so we'd ALSO look at hybrids, and maybe even pure-electrics from other manufacturers, including Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Chevy, and maybe Toyota (RAV-4).
How good is a C-MAX Hybrid a doing what the Vibe does?
- 40.5 C-MAX versus 26.4 Vibe mpg over our 3 years and 18,000 miles of ownership.
About 50% in town, 50% interstate highway.
And that's 30-34 mpg in cold months, 45-50 mpg in warm weather.
- vast improvements over the 1st Gen Vibe. But it's a larger more expensive car with more insulation and a sound system that listens for low-frequency engine noise and produces counter-pulses to minimize it.
Seating comfort. Similar, better, higher seating position, a bit more cabin room for people.
With pano moonroof it feels 'airy'
I find cloth seats more comfortable leather. These cloth seats are more comfortable than the Vibe cloth, but by a small margin. I never found the Vibe seats uncomfortable, except for very long highway trips. Never tried either Vibe or C-MAX with leather. YMMV.
Cargo capacity. Good, different, but not better.
Similar cargo space to the 1st Gen Vibe with seats folded down. A bit higher hatch lift-over height than the Vibe. Flat cargo floor, but about 1" higher than the rear hatch lip. Vehicle sits higher than Vibe, and seating position is several inches higher than Vibe. The front passenger seat does not fold forward, so there's no chance to carry an 8-foot long ladder inside the car.
Toyota-like reliability. Eventually.
First year, 4 occurrences of dead 12-volt battery. Call it the 'early adopter' first model year syndrome. But Ford fixed it. Ford had several employees active monitoring the online C-MAX communities, getting involved and following-up on consumer issues. That was impressive. And the problems got solved. Years 2-3 have been entirely trouble-free. Our only actual 'repair' in 3 years was to re-glue a couple of carpet strips to the rear of the rear setbacks because the factory adhesive apparently dried out. And that was free under the bumper-to-bumper warranty.
Knowing what we know now, would a C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid be a BETTER choice for us?
TL;DR: No. See reason #1 below.
1. If the hatch/cargo space was the same. But it's not.
The C-MAX Energi has a much larger battery, and so it has a 'hump' behind the rear seat for the larger battery (20 miles vs 2 miles for the Hybrid) and that occupies a substantial amount of the 'hatch' space. Main reason we didn't buy one in 2014. Plenty of space for local travel & a couple of suitcases for overnight, but we like to take extended driving family vacations too. Energi wouldn't have enough space.
2. IF the selling price was the same.
It takes a LOT of driving at 39mpg Energi plug-in (vs 40mpg Hybrid) to save a $3000 vehicle price difference in fuel cost savings.
Sometimes with Ford rebates and low interest rates, and dealer incentives and tax credits it IS the same. Wasn't in 2014.
The Federal Government (still) offers a $4007 Federal Tax Credit on the purchase of a plug-in hybrid C-MAX, $0 tax credit on Hybrid-only model. Itemizing our deductions and with significant deductible medical insurance costs and donations, we didn't OWE $4007 in Federal taxes in 2014, so we couldn't have taken the full advantage of the credit.
3. IF Gasoline had stayed at $3 per gallon or gone even higher and stayed there. But it didn't.
The 20-mile pure-electric range would cover about 80% of our driving. We'd fill up a couple times per year, except vacations.
Unlike a pure electric, there is no range anxiety, because you have the gas engine and 500-mile range between fill-ups.
4. IF buying some electricity was cheaper than buying gas. It was. It still is. It might or might not stay that way.
But realize that there IS a cost to recharging a hybrid electric.
Electricity was and still is under $.12 per kilowatt hour in our area. Unless your employer lets you park near an outlet at work AND doesn't charge you for the electricity, it won't be free.
5. IF we drove it to work & back home every day, with a round trip of under 20 miles, so most of the miles could be all-electric.
Added benefit of a plug-in: The plug-in hybrid models let you use the plugged-in electric power to 'schedule' cabin warm-up in winter and cabin-cool-down in summer with an app.
But we don't, we're both retired. Most of our driving is short trips in our community, 3 or 4 miles or less to the destination.
No gas-engine car warms up and operates at peak efficiency with such short trips, especially in colder weather. The same is true of the hybrid. The difference is MORE noticeable because the Hybrid reminds you constantly with 'instantaneous' mpg indicators, as well as Trip stats. You feel disappointed when your 3 mile trip in 10-degree wintry weather only nets you 18mpg. In your Vibe, you only notice that the gas gauge moves a bit faster, and you need to fill up more often.
6. IF an electric outlet (preferably 220v) is conveniently located where the car spends most of it's time.
Preferably in an enclosed garage, or at least a covered area. Ours is.
Being retired, the car sits in our garage much of the time. Plugging it in to 110v for a slow 12-hour recharge or a faster 5 hours on 220V would not be a problem.