The ‘Green’ Crossover Battle: Toyota PriusV vs. Ford C-Max Energi

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C-Max: Regular Gas and Electric (Plug-In)

PriusV: Regular Gas

Standard Fuel Mileage:

C-Max: 108-city/92-highway (plug-in)/ 45-city/40-highway (hybrid)

PriusV: 44-city/40-highway

Cargo Volume:

C-Max: 19.2 cu. ft.

PriusV: 34.3 cu. ft.

Suspension System:

C-Max: Independent (Front) McPherson/Torsion bar

PriusV: Independent Rear

What’s New:

C-Max: While this European crossover is a new addition to North America’s Ford family, it has been available in Europe for a few years.

PriusV: With the exception of a few content modifications, this vehicle is a carryover for the 2013 model year.

Pros:

C-Max: Ford’s crossover offers a number of high tech features such as an automatic parking parallel system and the brand signature MyFord Touch infotainment system. Unlike the PriusV, the C-Max has the capability of being fueled by gasoline or electricity. Obvious, using electricity alone will cut the overall ownership cost. As a side note, the C-Max is also available independently as either a hybrid or as a gas-electric plug-in vehicle.

Ironically, for comparison sakes, the PriusV, which is available as a hybrid only, is priced thousands more than both the C-Max hybrid and the gas-plug-in vehicle, C-Max Energi.

And, with the C-Max being available as a plug-in vehicle, it’s eligible for a $4,007 tax credit from the government. Other incentives could be available based upon one’s local jurisdiction too. Thus, this really gives the C-Max a significant price advantage over the hybrid only PriusV.

PriusV: Toyota’s PriusV is disguised as a station wagon, offering plenty of room for both occupants and cargo. The PriusV controls are easy to use. The stylish oversized fixed skyroof provides lots of light. As most folks in this class realize, the Prius family has been the leader in hybrid technology. On the other hand, Ford is relatively new in the game, when compared to Toyota.

Cons:

C-Max: While Ford’s C-Max was praised for being one of the first to offer a high-tech infotainment system known as MyTouch, it’s also received a lot of criticism for the system being plagued with issues too. At times, the system can be a little cumbersome to utilize, seeing that there are no knobs (or switches) to change stations or the audio settings. Unfortunately, everything from the ventilation system to the heated seats to the audio system are all controlled by a touchscreen system.

Besides the complicated MyTouch system, the C-Max plug-in cargo area is somewhat limited due to the location of the electric battery, which severely limits the cargo carrying capacity. (We hear a longer wheelbase model could be arriving in the states, at some point).

Lastly, the C-Max Energi is only available in the higher end SEL trim. By offering a lower price package, this could expand sales of the C-Max.

PriusV: Unlike the C-Max, the PriusV is not available as a plug-in electric vehicle. Only the original Prius hatchback offers both a hybrid and a plug-in model. Moreover, the PriusV lacks a useable roof, since it’s fixed. Also for $38,000, the PriusV should offer real leather, as opposed to the pseudo softex. Furthermore, it may take a moment for the average driver to adjust to the location of the driver-oriented gauges, which are located in the center of the instrument panel.

Lastly, Toyota engineers should add more horsepower to the PriusV to match the C-Maxi.

The Verdict:  Toyota’s PriusV and Ford’s C-Maxi are today’s modern day versions of high-tech station wagons. Conversely, unlike the station wagons of the past, these front-wheel drive, five-passenger vehicles are literally ‘Green’. They are ‘Green’ in the sense that both vehicles offer hybrid engines. Although Toyota is the global leader in hybrid systems, the C-Max ups the ante, offering a plug-in vehicle. The C-Max takes a page from GM’s Chevy Volt, offering both gas and electric to power the vehicle.

The C-Max Energi does fall short when compared to the Prius literally due to the shorter wheelbase. Unfortunately, this equates to a much smaller cargo area. In fact, the C-Maxi Energi had significantly less space for cargo, especially when the second-row seats are occupied.

On the other hand, the C-Max Energi overpowers the PriusV offering more horsepower than the Toyota all at a lower price point, especially when the government tax incentive (s) kick-in for being an electric vehicle too.

So, for those yearning to go ‘Green’ in a wagon-like style vehicle, the PriusV and the C-Max are both great choices to consider. Yes, there are a number of differences. However, it’s a matter of consumers deciding what is high on their shopping list: the space, the price point, the cargo room or the track record with hybrid technology!

About The Reviewer:

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.

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