Here’s an alternative to the hybrids offered by Toyota with there legendary Prius line of vehicles. This is the Ford Max. You can go for a hybrid, or this hybrid/electric version.

The EPA says that the C-MAX Energi will achieve a combined 43-mpg when it runs on gasoline; or 100 mpge when running on electricity and gasoline.

This is a pretty intelligent package. The computers pick the most efficient driving mode, but you can override the system with this switch. I left the clean work up to the MAX for most of my time in the vehicle and hardly used a sip of gas.

Let’s talk about the exterior. It’s pretty conservative. And for my taste that’s a good thing. Some cars look ground breaking and cool when they are first released only to look dated in a few years. In my opinion, this car will age well.

Here’s one feature that I love. Swipe your foot underneath and like magic, the tailgate opens. It may seem like a frivolous add on, but if you are carrying groceries, or a baby, this thing is a lifesaver.

Now for what’s behind the hatch. The batteries. And here’s where you might think twice about owning the C-MAX. The Lithium Ion battery pack swallows up a lot of real estate. The good news is, the seats fold down leaving you space to put things, as long as you aren’t transporting your kids or dogs.

The interior is where the C-MAX shines. Because of the large windshield and seating position, this car feels larger than it is. And if you get the optional moon roof you will be surrounded by glass.

The quality of the plastics is pretty amazing for a car in this class. Most of the surfaces are soft to the touch. In back, Ford saves a few pennies with harder plastic. Everything feels upscale. And the heated seats light up fast and bath your butt and back better than most.

There is so much technology packed into this car that it would take a separate review to explain. I will tell you that the Ford Sync system is pretty great. It is like learning a new computer operating system. That’s why they have a special instruction manual in the glove box, and a help menu on the dash for each feature. Once you spend some time, and chose your preferences, everything works like a charm. And with the hands free lady, you will find you don’t even touch the screen. You just tell her what to do.

Driving the Ford is a lot of fun. Again, it feels like an upscale vehicle. The C-MAX has a lot of character, with a little BMW personality.

It isn’t cheap. With the equipment group added to my tester, it came in at $36,635.00.

There are government tax credits that will lesson the sting.

The C-MAX Energi is quick, quiet, and proves that hybrids don’t have to be boring appliances on wheels. Nice job Ford.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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