Going Further With Ford - On A Lot Less Gas
Thanks to record gasoline prices in Southern California this fall, a lot of people I know are giving hybrids a serious look. And why not? There are now close to 50 hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles available in the United States. And four of the most fuel-efficient ones are being made by Ford, who invited us to their latest Go Further with Ford Open House, so we could compare them side-by-side.
I made a beeline to the Focus Electric at Ford's last open house, and I liked it then. This time, I wanted to be able to compare it with the other hybrids in Ford's energy-efficient lineup.
What's striking about the Focus Electric (aside from the knowledge that you will never need to wait in a line to gas it up) is how easy it is to drive. Acceleration is good, it handles well and the ride is smooth.
And you cannot beat the fuel efficiency, which EPA estimates as 100 mpg(e) city/110 mpg(e) highway. (For a full explanation of these ratings, visit the EPA website.)
I love the fact that Ford is not only making vehicles that are fuel efficient, but that they are also making strides to reduce their carbon footprint. Many of the cars in the Ford line utlize sound deadening materials made of recycled, shredded jeans. The company has replaced old petroleum-based foam padding with a new foam derived from locally sourced, organic soy.
However, as much as I like driving the Focus Electric, I cannot get over my range anxiety. Perhaps some day I'll have an opportunity to see what it's like to live with one of these for a few days, so I can do more than just take it for a short spin.
I had the pleasure of taking the C-MAX out on a spin a few months ago, just before the model started showing up on dealers' lots. At the time, I raved about its exceptional roominess and all the little nooks and crannies that have been built into the vehicle to stash your stuff.
The CMAX looks like a cute little crossover vehicle -- except when you get inside, it doesn't seem so little any more. In fact, you get slightly more passenger space in the CMAX than you do with Ford's Escape SUV -- which is not being offered in a hybrid model this year.
CMAX also offers options you might expect in a higher-end car, like Ford's hands-free liftgate and automatic parking assist (check out the video in our previous review of the car to see how that works).
This time around, I got to take it on a more extended drive, including a short stint on the freeway. It did not disappoint: it felt powerful. Off the freeway, I noticed how responsive it was when hitting curves. And I absolutely loved sitting in the driver's seat, which felt so comfortable, I didnt want to get up. I spend a lot of time in my car, and I felt like I could do it easily in the CMAX.
I got to attend the Ford's launch of its sexy, redesigned sedan and was suitably impressed by its spaciousness, luxuriousness and comfort. It's quiet, it's powerful, its electric power steering gives you supreme handling abilities.
But I think the Fusion's most impressive feature is its EPA-estimated gas mileage: 47/47/47.
I think the Fusion would be a fabulous replacement for my own aging sedan. I have just one gripe with the hybrid model: trunk space that's limited by the location of the battery packs. If you shop at big warehouse stores, you're not going to get too many huge cartons of things in there. Then again, you'll be saving so much money at the pump, you may not mind stashing some of those groceries in the back seat.