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Published on March 16th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor


Initial Review Of Ford C-Max Energi

March 16th, 2014 by  

Originally posted in the GM-Volt forums.
By bro1999.

So as some of you know, I recently leased a loaded 2013 C-Max Energi (NRG) a few days ago, replacing my ’10 GMC Terrain. Goodbye conventional ICE cars (hopefully forever)! I’ve seen a few requests about how it compares to the Volt, so after a few days of driving it around, here’s my initial review of the NRG and how it compares to the Volt.

Ford C-Max.
Image Credit: Nicholas Brown / Kompulsa.

MSRP of the NRG was $38,795… Ford was offering $9k in leasing incentives on ’13 NRGs, so combined with the $500 college student rebate and the $4k the dealership shaved off the price, I was able to lease for $304 a month for 24 months, with $1k + 1st month’s payment due at signing (10.5k miles/year). Maryland is one of the states that charges full sales tax on the purchase price, btw. Total out of pocket after 24 months will be $8,295. Residual/purchase price is $20.9k.

As for the NRG itself, the Li-on pack is 7.6 kWh, giving an official range of 21 miles. I only got 18.2 EV miles my first day (temps ranging between 35-55, no heating or AC, 60/40 highway driving the speed limit), but I found out later the tires were only at 33-34 psi. After filling them up to 42 psi, I was able drive my normal RT commute of 17 miles with 5 miles of estimated range left after parking at home under similar conditions.

As for charging, I completed a full charge from a completely depleted state using a 240V L2 station at the gym near my home (free! Woohoo), and CP said it took 2 hours 13 minutes to fully charge, using 6.786 kWh. I’ve been told there are about 20% charging losses on L2, so that gives a usable capacity of around 5.4 kWh (~70% of the battery, comparable to the Volt’s ~65%). I’ve seen a figure that L1 charging losses are closer to 30% (12 amps default charging, btw).

As for the (electric) drive, it has 3 drive modes: EV Now (EV only), Auto (blended ICE + generator drive), and EV later (basically hold mode). I’ve pretty much only driven in EV Now mode, so I can’t really comment on the other 2. Driving in EV now is pretty similar to the Volt… just a lot less power. I’ve floored it from a stop, and the NRG can’t compare to the Volt’s off the line speed. Contrary to what I believed previously, flooring the NRG won’t cause the ICE to turn on (like with the PiP), at least in EV Now mode. I’ve been told there are certain conditions that the ICE will switch on in EV Now (extreme HVAC use combined with lead-footed driving, for example), but for the most part, if you are in EV Now mode, you will not be burning any gas. As you can imagine, the overall driving experience is certainly less spirited than the Volt. Of course, I didn’t pick up a NRG for the looks or 0-60 times, so that doesn’t bother me too much.

My Volt was pretty loaded (I think all I was missing were the polished rims, and expensive paint in my ’12), but this loaded NRG seems to have everything a loaded Volt has, plus some extras. This includes:

– rain-activated wipers
– foot sensor-activated rear hatch (kick under the rear bumper with the key on you, and the hatch opens and closes by itself)
– self parallel parking?! (it will parallel park by itself with limited driver input. I haven’t tested this yet, but I’m thinking it’s more of a gimmick than anything)
– dual zone climate controls (with knobs! And rear vents too)
– 10 way power driver’s seat
– panoramic moon roof! (doesn’t open though)
– 120V outlet accessible to rear passengers. I guess if you want to plug in a laptop or something?

I’d like to specifically comment about the rear storage capacity. The battery eats a LOT of space. Without buying a cargo box of some kind, the NRG cannot replace an SUV, or even a CUV, if you need to haul a decent amount of stuff AND have people sit in the rear. For daily errands (grocery shopping, etc…) it’s fine. Official rated capacity is 19 cubic feet (my Terrain had 31). I was able to find a rear hitch-mounted Thule cargo box that adds 13 cubic feet that will allow us to haul all our camping stuff in the NRG.

So, overall, my impressions so far are positive. There are some annoying quirks, like not being able to easily check tire pressures). Ford Sync also seems to be a lot more complicated than it needs to be. I don’t have Mylink, so can’t do a direct comparision. The MyFord Mobile app is equally as horrible as Remotelink (slow, glitch).

Also, after charging fully, if you drive off in ‘L’, the ICE will switch on even in EV Now mode, as I guess it can’t store any additional charge from regen and needs to ‘burn it off’. That never happened in my Volt. I was scratching my head as to why the ICE kept switching on after departing on a full charge in EV now mode. Turns out I have to drive in ‘D’ for a half mile or so, then switch to ‘L’ to avoid the ICE turning on.

For my family of 4 (2 small kids), the NRG is a compromise vehicle until a true PHEV SUV comes out (anyone? Bueller?), but I believe it will serve me well the next 24 months. And possibly beyond, we’ll see. The Volt definitely is more fun to drive, and looks a lot better too, but the NRG has its perks and fits most of my needs. Feel free to ask any questions. I’ll try to answer.

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  • Diego Matter

    “For my family of 4 (2 small kids), the NRG is a compromise vehicle until a true PHEV SUV comes out (anyone? Bueller?)”

    The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will be a real alternative with tons of space and 60km of EV driving.


  • J_JamesM

    I’ve seen the Energi’s legendary storage space for myself. It’s even worse than you would think. Smartcars seem to have more of a trunk than the Energi. I cannot fathom why the designers would even bother giving the car a moveable rear hatch to access it. It’s as pointless as a moving window that opens up to a brick wall.

    • Rick

      The kickable hatch is pretty handy if you’re carrying groceries (the only time we actually use it). As you say, though, the storage over the battery is disappointing for anything beyond that.

      There’s plenty of storage over folded down rear seats when we don’t have passengers. We almost never do, so for us there’s much more space than you’d think just looking at the trunk.

  • Omega Centauri

    I have noticed with the PiP, that the computer is quite eager to draw down the battery, if the battery charge is roughly ninety percent or more. I suspect the Energi has similar prgramming. This would seem sensible, as it leaves some capacity to absorb a downhill. The other thing I’ve noted with the PiP, is that if for anyt reason the ICE kicks in (heavy foot, or use of defroster as well as mode selection), it will run the ICE until it is satisfied that the engine is warmed up, is the Energi similar in behavior (programming)?

    The other thing that might be variable is the reported electric mileage available. On the PiP this seems to be related to the miles per kilowatt hour you’ve gotten recently. As my commute is much longer than the EV range, I am very selective about when I use EV mode -avoiding it for hill climbs and accelerations. The computer then lists a full charge as good for 23miles! If I”ve made local purely EV trips, then the milage per KWhour is less and its estimated EV range starts dropping. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Energi works similarly.

    • Rick

      If the ICE kicks on in the Energi, even with the battery charged, it will in my experience stay on for at least a couple of minutes. So that behavior is similar to the PiP.

      The reported electric range is also dependent on previous results in the Energi. We took ours to Yellowstone last summer. By the end of our week long stay there it was estimating 38 miles electric range (due, I suppose, to the lower air resistance at the higher elevation).

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