2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

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2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style

Combined MPGe Combined MPGe

Miles per gallon-equivalent is how the EPA provides efficiency ratings for battery-electric vehicles in a way that can be used in comparison with gasoline-powered vehicles. Actual mileage will vary depending on driving conditions, driving habits, elevation changes, weather, accessory usage (lights, climate control), vehicle condition and other factors.

Related: Top 10 Most Efficient Electric Cars
1 kWh
Battery capacity Battery capacity

Battery capacity is measured in kilowatt-hours, which is a measure of how much energy is used over time. A 70-kWh battery has more energy capacity than a 50-kWh battery and would result in a longer driving range if all other factors were equal. But more battery capacity doesn’t always mean longer range because of differences in energy consumption from vehicle to vehicle.


Seating capacity

173.6” x 63.9”


Front-wheel drive



The good:

  • Gas mileage potential
  • High-tech standard features

The bad:

  • Pending further review

2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best Hatchbacks for 2023

Notable features

  • Five seats, no sliding doors
  • Available plug-in Energi version
  • Gas-electric four-cylinder drivetrain

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid review: Our expert's take

By Kelsey Mays

Editor’s note: Estimated mileage ratings have been lowered to reflect a June 2014 Ford audit of this car’s stated mileage.

Few automakers have taken a direct shot at Toyota’s green icon, the Prius hybrid. Now Ford has: It’s the 2013 C-Max Hybrid, but its overall refinement has been marred by poor reliability and two downward revisions in EPA gas mileage.

Earlier plans to bring a seven-seat C-Max minivan from overseas were scrapped, and now the C-Max comes as a hybrid and a C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, each with five seats. Ford has targeted the plus-sized Prius v as the C-Max’s primary competitor, but it’s priced closer to the Prius, so you might shop it against both — or a well-equipped Honda Insight, for that matter. Compare these models here.

C-Max trims include the SE and SEL; we tested a well-optioned SEL. We cover the C-Max Energi separately in Cars.com’s Research section.

That’s One Tall Hatch
The C-Max shares platforms with Ford’s popular Focus compact car and Escape SUV, and the styling similarities are obvious. Its profile falls somewhere between the two. It’s essentially a very tall hatchback, with a roofline 6.2 inches higher than the Focus and 2.4 inches short of the Escape. It’s a stubby profile, too, coming in substantially shorter, bumper-to-bumper, than the Prius or Prius v but wider and taller than both.

The height shows in the interior, where the driving position feels closer to an SUV than a car. The C-Max’s abundant headroom is useful; I could elevate my seat high without my head scraping the ceiling in our moonroof-free test car. Alas, the A-pillars stretch far enough ahead to sit in your field of vision, spoiling some of the otherwise commanding view.

Curiously, the second row sits a lot lower. It provides a flat cargo floor when folded down, but seated adults will find their knees pointing up in the air. Given the headroom surplus, I wish Ford had elevated the seat, even if it meant a slight ledge in the cargo floor.

There’s 52.6 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume with the seats folded. That figure splits the difference between the Prius’ 39.6 cubic feet and the Prius v’s 67.3 cubic feet. But the C-Max lacks any backseat adjustments, which the Prius v and several other hatchbacks include.

If Ford merely squeaks by in the race for versatility, it wins the cabin materials contest. From the dashboard and doors to the steering-wheel trim and headliner, the C-Max boasts handsome materials where other hybrids cheap out. The Prius and Honda Insight feel insubstantial, and even the richer Prius v has its share of cost-cutting. The C-Max is a step up.

Alas, the dashboard controls are bad news. Our test car had the latest version of the automaker’s much-maligned MyFord Touch. Thankfully, Ford didn’t include touch-sensitive dashboard keys in this car, but the system’s touch-screen still has too many pinky-size buttons for important functions, and menu changes lag for a full second. Despite efforts to call off the search, Bluetooth hunts for phones that left the car long ago. The voice-recognition software fouls up more address entries than it gets right. And the bungles go beyond MyFord Touch; even the C-Max SE, which drops MyFord Touch, adopts a confusing jumble of  stereo controls. The dual-zone climate controls on all trim levels have sunken dials that slip your grasp. It’s high time for Ford to rethink its controls, whose issues — both ergonomic and electronic — bury other strengths.

Drivability Shines
The transition between the C-Max’s electric motor and 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder feels exceptionally smooth, though acceleration from a standing start is modest. Still, the combined 188 horsepower provides enough oomph to beat semi-trucks from the merging lane. The regenerative brakes feel linear enough, as hybrid brakes go.

Ride quality is firm but controlled, and the C-Max steers exceptionally well. The wheel has substantial, hefty confidence on the highway, with precise turn-in when you cut into corners. Toss the car around, and it displays outstanding balance — a result of Ford’s masterful small-car platform. Short of the luxury field, most hybrids drive like high-mileage commuter cars. Kudos to Ford for breaking the mold.

Mileage Mix-ups
EPA-estimated mileage for the C-Max is 42/37/40 mpg (city/highway/combined), reflecting the mileage gains from regenerative braking and low-speed EV power, both of which help the city figure. That’s short of the 42-mpg Prius v and well short of the 50-mpg Prius (both EPA combined ratings).

It wasn’t always the case, however. Originally the EPA issued a combined 47 mpg rating on the C-Max, but subsequent investigations found that mileage didn’t hold up in the real world. Ford lowered its combined mileage to 43 mpg in August 2013 after uncovering a faulty EPA rule that allowed the automaker to equate C-Max mileage with the mechanically related Fusion Hybrid (read about it here). Ford lowered mileage again — this time to 40 mpg — in June 2014 after finding to errors in fuel-economy testing (read about it here). In both cases, the automaker compensated current C-Max owners several hundred dollars.

It gets more complicated. Ford also issued drivetrain and climate-control recalibrations in July 2013 to improve real-world mileage in the 2013 C-Max (read about it here). A month later, the automaker promised aerodynamic modifications, lower-friction engine oil and more efficient transmission gearing for the 2014 C-Max to improve mileage further. But none of that seems to have had much effect: EPA combined mileage is 40 mpg for both the 2013 and 2014 models.

We reviewed the C-Max months before the calibration or hardware updates occurred, so our observed mileage reflects the 2013 car before any updates. As it stands, the latest 40 mpg EPA rating appears attainable. With temperatures in the 30s and 40s, I averaged trip-computer mileage in the low 40s over 100-plus miles of driving. Another editor reported 41.0 and 47.4 mpg over two highway commutes with temperatures in the low 30s. If you buy a C-Max and fall short of its mileage claims, shoot us an email to tell us about your experience.

Safety, Features & Pricing
The C-Max has not been crash-tested. Standard safety features include seven airbags plus the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. Ford’s standard MyKey system allows parents to limit vehicle speed, stereo volume and other features when their teens drive. Click here for a full list of safety features, or here for our evaluation of child-safety seat accommodations.

The C-Max SE starts around $26,000, including the destination charge. Standard features include a USB/iPod-compatible stereo, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. Add features to the SE or step up to the SEL, and you can get a power driver’s seat, heated leather upholstery, MyFord Touch, keyless access with push-button start, a power liftgate, backup camera, front and rear parking sensors with an automated parking feature, a panoramic moonroof, Sony audio and a navigation system. Load up the C-Max SEL, and the price tops out around $35,000.

C-Max in the Market
No doubt many Escape Hybrid fans were chagrined by Ford’s decision to redesign the Escape without a gas-electric version. The C-Max lacks an all-wheel-drive option, but its mileage and SUV-like qualities should provide a legitimate replacement. Reliability so far has been a black hole — much worse than average for both the C-Max and the plug-in C-Max Energi. Indeed, our test car’s check-engine light turned on thanks to a problematic fuel-filler inlet. We addressed the problem as directed in the owner’s manual, but to no avail.

Will the C-Max ever reach Prius status? Unlikely. Toyota’s halo hybrid has so much brand equity that the automaker could probably get people to buy a Prius pickup or roadster. Ford has a long way to go before it gets there, but the C-Max is a start.

Send Kelsey an email  

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior design 4.5
  • Performance 4.4
  • Value for the money 4.3
  • Exterior styling 4.2
  • Reliability 4.4

Most recent consumer reviews


2013" c-max goes the distance

This 2013 c-max hybrid has absolutely stood the test of time , unexpectedly driving excessive miles daily for years without having any mechanical problems, we did replace worn tires and always kept up with the recommended sevice maintenance by Ford. I am really impressed by this lil car. Now being sold to continue driving a hybrid car. I defiantly would recommend the c-max.


Customer of over 25 years says bye to ford

I waited 9 months for a control module for my car, during this time it was not operable, I was told it was on backorder. So for 9 months I was without a car or transportation. I have been a ford customer for over 25yrs but no more. Its bad when this dealership did nothing to help, not even a discounted rental to help. Ford is not the company it once was.


Lots to Like... Some Problems!

PROS: Very good on the mpgs (although nowhere near the original estimates, in our experience) and has a LOT of zip! It's just an easy-to-drive, smooth, and quiet vehicle. We love the amount of interior space too, especially with the back seats down. Front seating is quite comfortable although feels like a mini-van, which surprised us at first... but you get used to it. CONS: Ford's Sync dashboard system on this model is just abysmal, and climate controls also behave un-intuitively. Car is an excellent driver most of the year but very poor on snow and ice; the smallest amount of sleet and ice can completely immobilize the vehicle on our rolling gravel driveway. Braking is very powerful and difficult to modulate—sometimes a gentle tap will throw passengers forward! Oil changes are a pain in the neck due to the large, cumbersome under-panel that has to be removed.

See all 134 consumer reviews


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Ford Blue Advantage Blue
New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
60 months/unlimited distance
60 months/60,000 miles
Hybrid electric
96 months/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance
60 months/60,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
Fords and many non-Ford vehicles up to 10 years old with less than 150,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
90-Day/4,000-Mile (whichever comes first) Comprehensive Limited Warranty
Dealer certification required
139-point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

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