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Roadshow Video Reviews
Ford C-MAXFord triples down on a diminutive minivan.
-Minivans. You know, these days, they're really anything but, they're huge. You've ever been in the shadow of a Nissan Quest or a Toyota Sienna or a Honda Odyssey. It's a big, old piece of vehicle. But Ford's got an idea to take it back to where it came from. This is the C-MAX. A new minivan, generally speaking, that is kind of in the proportions of the original Chrysler minivans-- the ones that started it all. This is a much more downsized vehicle but still in the same sort of shape and interior utility. Let me tell you some of the features going on here. It's based on their C-platform, obviously with a name like C-MAX, they're blaring that horn. This is a layout that gives you a 2-seat in the front with a console, a 2 or 3 in the second row, and a very compact third row for 2 seats that have got some wheel-well intrusion, obviously, 'cause you got a short ramp on this guy. To make getting around the second and third row more useful, that middle part of the seat in the second row cannot just fold down, it can fold under and leave an actual pass-through little walkway right there; again, for kids to get in the back. This is not a great place for adults to be clambering around, but that's the kind of form we're talking about here. Inside, you'll see the new look of a lot of Fords--Fiesta, Focus. This is their new interior. It kinda got that Darth Vader mask in the middle there and those deeply inset, deeply recessed gauges with hard chrome brows over them. And while this one's coming to market soon in 2012, we've also seen some electrified ones that are a little more edgy. Let's go check those out. So, here's an example of one of two C-MAX hybrids Fords envisioning for 2012. It'll be a straight hybrid, a so-called soft hybrid, that has some boost from electric motor but basically runs primarily on a gas engine all the time. Then there's this guy here called the Energi which is plug-in hybrid. You know, plug-ins are like hybrids just more electric than they are gas. So, this guy would run at low speeds unlike [unk], but primarily with a blend of more electric than gas at most driving speeds until that battery is depleted and then, of course, it can become a soft hybrid or not a hybrid at all depending how depleted the battery is. On the straight hybrid alone, Ford is estimating 47 miles per gallon. That's well above anything that they make today including their current Fusion hybrid which is no slouch. Now, I have some concerns about too many hybrids and too many new efficient powertrains in the market at ones, whether they're from the same car maker or from many. So, think about the consumer who's going out there and saying, okay it's a hybrid or it can be a plug-in hybrid or it could be an EcoBoost with turbos and something called direct injection or I can go and buy an electric vehicle or there are also turbo diesels. We get an awful lot of lean, efficient powertrain choices coming to the market. This whole industry and companies that do multiple hybrids of the same nameplate like this have to make sure they get the education right or this is gonna become a lot of noise.