Call it a win on technicalities: thanks to some different levels of trim and options, as well as a larger federal tax credit, the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi can claim a lower base price than the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In against which it competes.
Toyota's 2012 Prius Plug-In starts at $32,760 (including destination), and is then eligible for a $2500 federal tax credit. All told, its base price including tax credits is $30,260. Prius Plug-In buyers get standard heated front seats and Entune infotainment with navigation, and the optional Advanced trim level adds features like leatherette seats, adaptive cruise control, and upgraded navigation/infotainment for $7525. The Chevrolet Volt, meanwhile, starts at $39,995 and is eligible for a $7500 tax credit, making its base price $32,495.
The 2013 C-Max Energi, on the other hand, starts at $33,745 (including destination), but is eligible for a larger federal tax credit, $3750. That means its base price is marginally lower than the Prius', ringing in at $29,995. Unlike the Prius Plug-In, the C-Max Energi has standard leather-trimmed seats, but requires the optional 301A package--costing $1195--to add navigation.
All told, the top-spec C-Max Energi with a Sony sound system, MyFord Touch with navigation, a hands-free liftgate, rear-view camera and active park assist, and forward collision warning will run you $36,240 before tax credits. The top-spec Prius Plug-In, meanwhile, rings in at $40,280, and features automatic LED headlights, a premium navigation system, and a heads-up display.
Despite the mismatched options availabilities and tax credits, Ford is still claiming this as a win because it says the C-Max is more car with or without the creature comforts. The C-Max Energi boasts the same MPGe figure as the Prius Plug-In but with 61 more total system horsepower (195 to 134) and a slightly longer total range, 550 miles to 540.
The Ford C-Max Energi, along with its conventional hybrid sibling, will go on sale this fall.
Sources: Ford, Toyota