2013 Ford C-MAX SEL Hybrid Rental Review, Avis/National

2013 Ford C-MAX SEL_front three fourths

Notable standard features on Avis/National’s 2013 Ford C-MAX SEL Hybrid

  • 2.0L 4-cyl (141-hp, 129 ft-lb) + electric motor (118-hp, 117 ft-lb); net power (188 hp); 0-60 mph (MotorTrend) ~ 8.1 seconds
  • 47/47 (city/hwy) mpg fuel economy
  • Regular gas
  • 24.5 cubic feet (2nd row seats up)/52.6 cubic feet (2nd row seats folded) + hidden rear cargo bin storage
  • Power windows, heated side mirrors with integrated blind spot inset mirrors and turn signals, locks
  • Manual tilt & telescoping steering wheel with audio & cruise controls
  • 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar, manual passenger’s seat, leather, heated
  • Automatic headlamps
  • Dual zone automatic HVAC with rear ducts
  • 110V rear outlet
  • Push button ignition
  • Ultrasonic parking sensors
  • 6 speaker audio with AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sync  (6 month complimentary Sirius subscription)
  • 8” center stack display with MyFordTouch
  • Inputs: 2 x USB, RCA audio/video, SD Card, Bluetooth/Sync
  • 60/40 split-fold rear seats


- Excellent visibility, airy cabin with generous headroom
- Theoretical and real-world fuel economy
- Cabin tech & comfort superior to Toyota Prius
- More utilitarian than the 2013 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid, storage nooks and crannies aplenty


- Bottom half of chrome surround is reflected in the instrument cluster
- Couldn’t get the hands-free liftgate to work consistently

CONCLUSION: Ditch the Prius, get the C-MAX instead.  Might be even better equipped than most rental fleet ’13 Fusion Hybrids.

I’ve spotted a few 2013 Ford C-MAXes on the roads; not many, but enough to pique my interest.  The C-MAX bears a similarly bulbous shape to the Prius and looks like an ungainly, tall Ford Focus wagon.  As I discovered on my rental, the C-MAX is far superior to the Prius.

To refresh your memory of the very similar 2013 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid, please refer to our previous review here:

2013 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid

To read my updated thoughts on the C-MAX’s highly touted fuel economy, see the posts here:



2013 Ford C-MAX SEL_front closeup

Both Avis and National have acquired a few Ford C-MAX vehicles at DCA.  Avis classifies it as a hybrid car under their Cool Car specialty vehicle class and National classifies it as an SCAH or Standard Hybrid, which falls under the same classification as the 2013/2012 Toyota Prius and 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrids.  Both companies will likely charge a per diem upgrade fee to rent the C-MAX.

2013 Ford C-MAX SEL_overhead rear sideline

The 2013 Ford C-MAX SEL Hybrid starts at $28,365 and this rental added Equipment Group 302A (+$1,915; including factory navigation, 9-speaker Sony HD-Audio, power liftgate, rearview camera) and White Platinum paint (+$595) for a total as-rented price of $31,420.  17-inch painted aluminum wheels are standard equipment.  This particular C-MAX was also brand news!

As you’ll notice, this C-MAX Hybrid was better optioned than both 2013 Ford Fusion types that I rented.  If you spot both a C-MAX Hybrid and a 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid on the rental lot, then it might be worth your while to compare the trim levels and options.

2013 Ford C-MAX SEL_front grille

The 2013 Ford C-MAX is shorter than both the Prius and the Prius-V, yet is wider and taller than the two.  The front grille was adorably baby Aston Martin and overall it had a more handsome and premium exterior packaging than my last Prius rental.  This C-MAX was equipped with the optional hands-free kick-enabled liftgate, but I had some difficulty getting it to consistently work.  I’ll try reading the manual next time.

2013 Ford C-MAX SEL_dashboard frontal viewThe interior looks almost identical to that of the 2013 Ford Escape with the exception of the instrumentation panel, which has been replaced with Ford’s next generation SmartGauge/EcoGuide.  As in the Escape, interior material quality was excellent and certainly much better than that of the Prius.

The steeply raked windshield, A-pillar window cutouts, and large windows gave the C-MAX excellent forward and sideward visibility.  The fixed panoramic sunroof (I’m guessing it doesn’t open in order to preserve fuel economy) added to the airy cabin.  The tall roofline provided generous headroom fore and aft, even with the equipped sunroof eating up a few inches.  Seating position in the front buckets was upright and exceptionally comfortable.  Rear seat cushions were thin (another Ford Escape similarity) but retained good comfort and upright seating posture.  Rear seat passengers are also treated to a single 110V power outlet.

2013 Ford C-MAX SEL_SmartGauge with efficiency leaves

Audio was supplied by the always very good Sony audio HD-system and a rearview camera was included as part of the Equipment Group 302A package.  Ford apparently updated its rearview camera display to include much needed steering projection lines in addition to its usual three colored proximity demarcations2013 Ford C-MAX SEL_fixed panoramic roof.  As on the Fusion Hybrid, a graphical “ready to drive” message appeared upon initial ignition.  This was particularly helpful since both vehicles were so quiet at idle that I had difficulty discerning whether the car was actually on.

I had one quibble about the otherwise excellent interior.  The instrumentation binnacle was highlighted by a swooping chrome surround for purely aesthetic purposes.  The bottom half of the surround was reflected in the gauges and a potentially dangerous visual distraction.  Ford, this should be an easy fix.  How about a replacement matte surround?

The C-MAX was more utilitarian than the Ford Fusion Hybrid.  Storage nooks and crannies abounded in the C-MAX.  Second row seats folded flat via a quick rotation of the headrests and a twist of the thigh cushion lever.

2013 Ford C-MAX SEL_engine

I suspect that most readers will be curious to know what kind of real world fuel economy I averaged.  As the only occupant, I turned up the heat, turned on the heated seats, pumped up the bass and averaged 41 mpg at the end of my rental, without much hyper-miling effort.  I had no problems achieving 57 mpg in the last 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid I rented and I’m certain the C-MAX is capable of equal numbers.  The C-MAX was equipped with helpful braking coaches and fuel efficiency leaves which made my task of fuel economy optimization very easy.  Aggressive drivers who depend primarily on the gasoline engine will probably average in the 30 mpg range.

In conclusion, I would hands down rent the C-MAX over the Prius.  As for the C-MAX vs. the Fusion Hybrid, it will come down to your body style and trim level preferences.

For more information on the 2013 Ford C-MAX SEL Hybrid, please refer to the manufacturer’s webpage here:




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