Ford has a fixation on the Toyota Prius V, that homely hybrid schlepper of families who demand more cargo room for antiquing or obscenely large Fender stacks. “That popular hybrid that everyone’s talking about,” Ford snidely remarked in its presentation for the 2013 C-MAX Hybrid in West Hollywood, which got a chuckle out of us media types.
But here’s how things work in the product development team, issuing press releases that mention the Toyota Prius V with aplomb: Ford claims more mileage than the Prius V with their C-MAX. The C-MAX is $1,500 cheaper than the Prius V, before federal incentives. It has more range than the Prius V, more horsepower, and can drive in electric mode at a higher top speed as well.
The C-MAX, in itself, is a curious sight on our shores. Based on the European version, it comes to America as a relatively niche product; as a hybrid in lieu of gasoline and diesel versions that Ford sells in Europe, both variants that could eke out more sportiness and cargo room without battery packs. But “we wanted to offer something that was more unique, in terms of what we’ve got for a family vehicle,” says Ford, and a car that “is really speaking to an electrified type product as opposed to just a general product that offers a hybrid.”
So there you have it — the making of an epic brawl between the Ford C-MAX, a European transplant, and the Prius V. Seeing as there are currently no other hybrids in this weird pseudo-wagon segment, it’s an apt comparison. And one that, as we found out, is more complex than we thought.