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2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid works to overthrow Prius (pictures)

Ford's new dedicated hybrid comes out with the fuel economy and practical interior space of the Prius, yet offers much more power and better drivability.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 23 James Martin/CNET
Ford's new C-Max, based on the Focus platform, was originally sold in Europe with a variety of different engines. It comes to the U.S. strictly as a hybrid.
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An odd-looking vehicle, the C-Max Hybrid is like a too-tall Focus, and straddles the themes of hatchback, small minivan, and wagon.
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The hybrid power train consists of an electric motor and 2-liter gasoline engine. The electric motor can drive the car at speeds up to 62 mph.
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The high roof means more overall interior volume than a Prius v.
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A European-tuned suspension means a comfortable, yet firm ride, making the C-Max Hybrid able to deal with a variety of roads, with responsive handling.
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The liftgate reveals ample cargo area.
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Put the rear seats down and the cargo area expands dramatically.
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A non-opening sunroof gives a panoramic view of the sky.
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The seating position feels oddly high, until you get used to it.
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The rear seats sit on a flat floor, and offer excellent headroom and decent legroom.
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In SEL trim, the C-Max Hybrid comes standard with MyFord Touch, which brings in the center LCD.
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The C-Max Hybrid uses electric power steering, which is tuned for responsive control.
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The speedometer is augmented by many different information screens to the left.
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Drivers can choose what type of information they want to see on the left-hand screen, from running data to a trip computer to a driving coach.
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The shifter engages typical PRNDL drive modes. There are no Sport or Eco buttons.
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The flash-memory-based navigation system leaves a lot to be desired, as it responds slowly and has a complicated interface.
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The stereo can be upgraded to this Sony audio system, which produces very clear sound.
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Bluetooth audio streaming, one of the available audio sources, shows track data on the LCD.
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With an iPhone cabled up to the car's USB port, you can browse music by category.
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Music playback screens show album art, when available.
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Ford's cabin electronics index music sources connected to the car.
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Along with dialing by number, the C-Max Hybrid lets you use voice command to dial by any name in a paired phone's contact list.
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The rearview camera shows trajectory lines, and is also part of an available automatic parallel-parking system.

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