Ford C-Max electric plug-in vehicle.
If you think 47 miles a gallon for a family hauler is pretty good gas mileage, imagine doubling it on the same basic vehicle.
That's what Ford is doing by offering a plug-in version of its new Euro-style C-Max compact crossover. The plug-in, officially called the C-Max Energi, has been EPA certified at 100 MPGe in combined city and highway driving. (The little "e" is the strange designation given on electric vehicles when comparing them against conventional cars.)
By contrast, the 2012 Toyota Prius plug-in is rated at 95 mpg combined city and highway. The C-Max competes against the larger version of the Prius, a wagon called the Prius V.
Of course, the problem with giving gas-mileage ratings to plug-in models is complicated by how far you drive them. Since drivers typically plug in overnight and can run a certain distance -- 20 miles in the case of the C-Max -- before the juice runs out and the gas engine takes over, gas mileage will vary. Those with short commutes will get dramatically better plug-in results than those with long ones.
The C-Max plug-in starts at $33,745 before federal tax credits and destination costs.
"Ford is giving customers the power of choice for leading fuel economy regardless of what type of vehicle or powertrain technology they choose," said John Davis, chief nameplate engineer, C-MAX Energi. "With $5-per-gallon gasoline, C-MAX Energi customers essentially will pay $1.25 per gallon for the same distance traveled compared with average vehicles estimated to achieve 23 mpg."
By Chris Woodyard