Seven months ago I leased a 2015 Ford CMax Energi. It’s a five door hatchback with a hybrid motor as well as an electric plug in motor. I love the concept of an electric vehicle but I didn’t love the Tesla and it’s the only vehicle with a range that’s useful for my driving habits.
I knew only that I wanted a vehicle that would get me into the carpool (HOV) lane with just one person. In California this means that I’d need a plug in hybrid, a CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicle, hydrogen fuel or full electric. Here is California’s list of HOV sticker eligible cars and trucks. My brother has a CNG Honda Civic and really likes it but I’m not as mindful as he is and foresaw multiple scenarios of running out of gas. Hydrogen is a great option but the infrastructure doesn’t surround my neighborhood and like I said the fully electric cars don’t suit my current driving habits. I decided that a plug in electric would be the perfect vehicle for me at this moment in my life.
After a bit of research I narrowed it down to the Chevy Volt, Ford CMax Energi or the Fusion Energi. Although it’s the most aesthetically pleasing of the trio I eliminated the Fusion because all that battery takes up space and the only way to get decent storage is by going to a hatchback. I test drove both the Volt and the CMax and ended up with the CMax for the following reasons.
Power Driver’s Seat: The CMax has an optional power driver’s seat, the Volt does not. This was a deal breaker for me. I’m listing it first because in all candor, it mattered more than price. I can give up a lot of options and I don’t need to drive a luxury car but I cannot give up a power driver’s seat.
Price: I have automotive ADD and I lease cars because as they approach the second year I’m already done with them. The third year of the lease is torture for me. The CMax was running a leasing special at the beginning of the year that was unbeatable.
Tech: Even though the navigation system is slow (painfully slow really) Ford delights me with fun features. The CMax has a “go time”. When it’s plugged in for charging you can preset the temperatures. At 7am it’s a joy to hop into a 76 degree car. Now I may be jinxing things but I’ve been able to seamlessly stream music apps through the Ford Sync system even after iOs updates. Unfortunately our Kia and our BMW (both 2015 model years) are a little more temperamental than that and streaming apps sometimes involves making a wish, crossing your fingers and twirling three times with your eyes closed.
Do you want to call someone? Go somewhere? Do you have an accent or a lisp? Doesn’t matter. Use voice activation. It will work. I know this sounds like something we should take for granted but it doesn’t work with every manufacturer and I love the hands free nature of using my car.
Dealership: There is nothing wrong with the local Chevy dealership but I ended up leasing my car through Sunrise Ford in North Hollywood. My salesman Ray W (you should ask for him) knew a bunch of the same people I knew from the dark ages when I used to sell Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth. I understand that buying or leasing a car for the average person is a misery and most often I recommend using a broker but I do think that the guys at Sunrise are better than most. I can tell you with certainty that their service department is excellent and rivals any luxury car experience I’ve had.
Space: The CMax interior feels like a minivan but not in the I wish I was dead I have to drive a minivan way. There’s plenty of head room, I could be twice my size and still comfortably fit into the driver’s seat and the kids (who are all over 5’8″) have plenty of room in the back. Because it’s a hatchback you can load a bunch of junk in the back seat and trunk if need be.
The CMax isn’t for everyone. Some people will hate it. When people ask how long it takes to go from zero to 60 my only answer is, “It’s not really that kind of car.” It’s slow and you’ll feel yourself slow down in it because when you’re driving in EV mode the brakes regenerate the engine. If you’re following me downhill you’ll see brake lights, refueling an EV is fun but possibly not for the people behind me. If slowing down a little bothers you then this vehicle might make you rage. Skip it, it’s not the car for you.
A U Turn in the CMax is a joyless experience. The turn radius is over 38 feet. This means that you need at least four highway lanes to make a U Turn without it becoming a three point turn.By way of comparison the turn radius on a BMW 6 series four door sedan is just 19.6′. Every time this annoys me I remind myself that I can open the trunk just by kicking under the bumper and that I’m using a tank of gas (14 gallons) every month. You’ve got to give a little to get a little.
I don’t know that I’d want to own a Ford plug in hybrid vehicle. I can’t predict the cost of a replacement battery and I’m pretty sure that in a couple years the pendulum will swing and I’ll want something faster and less practical. For the moment this is the perfect car for my lifestyle. It’s not sexy but it’s smart and it’s frugal.