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2013 Ford C-Max Energi Plug-In Hybrid

Boldness is science fiction’s most important plot device. Heroes fearlessly  warp into voids in machines that can travel light-years without refueling, gallantly confronting new challenges and achieving ones once unimaginable (until somebody in Hollywood imagines it). There’s never any hesitation when you have total confidence in the technology. And the movie-franchise potential.

But that’s Star Trek, and those guys don’t make the lease payments on their own starships. This is the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid people-mover, an urban shuttlecraft that asks you to be bold with your family’s transportation needs and to do so entirely at your own considerable expense.
Do not be misled by the recharging port on the left-front fender or the strange name.

The $33,745 Energi joins an exclusive list of pioneering hatchback plug-in hybrids, including the $32,795 Toyota Prius plug-in and the $39,995 Chevrolet Volt, with muscled-up battery packs and extension cords for wall charging. These three cars exist for the middling-bold of eco-buyers, or those who want all the benefits and public palaver that comes with courageously whispering along in an electric vehicle—except when they don’t. For then, after the juice runs out, the Energi and its competitors switch over to old-fashioned petroleum power, which, as dirty as it is, always trumps foot power.

The Energi carries its heart in its tail, where a 7.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack overflows what could have been the spare-tire well if there were a spare tire. It’s a big leap up in capacity and cost from the 1.4-kWh battery used in its sister ship, the regular $25,995 C-Max hybrid. The larger battery is there to give the Energi something the C-Max hybrid lacks: a claimed 20 miles or so of electric-only driving. After that, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine that is also being lugged along awakens, and the car operates essentially the same as any other hybrid does.
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