The Ford C-MAX Hybrid SEL, A Road Trip, And the Palinode Sporting Duck Lips

Ford Canada loaned me a

2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid SEL

for a week. Aside from getting to boot around in a loaner, I did not receive monetary compensation for the following review.

This is a long overdue write-up about my week with the

2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid SEL

, but I've been thinking about that car for the last two weeks that I've been meaning to write about it, which is a pretty good sign. I miss her a little.

Meet my girl, Mitsou.


Yes, I named her after a 1980s French Canadian pop star. What Canuck over 35 doesn't have the chorus to Mitsou's "Bye Bye Mon Cowboy" stamped into their psyche somewhere?

This was such a different ride than the last vehicle I test drove, the

2013 Ford Escape Titanium

, that I wasn't sure what to make of the C-MAX the first day that I drove it. The


asked me what I thought of it, and I had to say that I honestly didn't know yet. The C-MAX Hybrid SEL felt like a lightweight after the power and size of the brawnier Escape Titanium, but it didn't take long for me to get over the comparison. The C-MAX and I ended up getting along just fine. In fact, we got along


than fine.

Mitsou actually taught me to be a better driver, and I'm not even kidding.


If you recall from

my last adventures with the Escape

, my mother referred to me as a "city driver", by which she meant to imply that my other name is Mrs. Heavyfoot. I do have a tendency to speed up and slow down a little more abruptly, but that's a condition of my need for speed. I like power.

As much as I like the feeling of power, though, it doesn't have the greatest effect on mileage or the environment, and the C-MAX Hybrid SEL does a good job of steering your bad habits into new and better habits,

and it makes you like it

. Within two days of driving Mitsou, I was a less aggressive driver who was saving on gas.

What changed my driving for the better was this brilliant dashboard display:


The C-MAX SEL, being a hybrid, is a car with a gasoline engine and an electric motor, both of which can propel the car, so it is set up to have energy return from the car to recharge the battery. The little battery-shaped image on the left side shows you the percentage of energy return to the battery every time you brake and come to a full stop. Short, swift stops result in terrible energy return, so it makes you want to brake slow and steady, because every time you hit 100% energy return you get to fist pump and shout


I suggest that you do the fist-pumping and the yelling with the windows rolled up. Pedestrians laugh at you, otherwise.

The other thing that influenced better and more energy efficient driving habits in me was the Efficiency Leaves display on the right. At first I rolled my eyes about it, because

A hippie car? Really?

But it sucked me in. I wanted my plant to


. The more energy efficient your vehicle, the more leaves grow on your plant, so, as long as I didn't drive like Mrs. Heavyfoot and laid off the AC, I finally had a plant I couldn't completely kill. The Efficiency Leaves plant pictured above is kind of pathetic, but, in my defense, it was a very hot day, and I needed the AC on high to survive.

A couple of days into the test drive, the Palinode and I decided to take Mitsou out on the highway to Saskatoon, because you can't properly test a car for prairie living unless you hit the road.

smart windshield wipers on the Ford C-MAX SEL

I will probably sound like a bit of a troglodyte here, but I have to mention the windshield wipers. Without my having to do anything, they sensed rain, somehow knew how much rain there was, and started up at exactly the speed needed to maintain visibility. It was like creepy magic.

Or maybe the creepy aspect was my duck-lipping travel companion:





and I went up to Saskatoon to hang out with some very dear old friends of mine, because the lot of us hadn't been mostly all together since sometime in the late 1990s. I wasn't sure about privacy issues, so I have made the mature move to conceal the identities of two of my friends:

S, C, Aidan, me, Drew, and Geof

I could write this entire entry from the intense emotions I felt during this trip, because seeing those people from across Canada congregated around a table at a coffee shop brought back so much


to me, a sense of self that I haven't felt in a long time, and it was both like coming home and a very special remix of

Invasion of the Bodysnatchers


Frankly, though, writing about taking the Ford C-MAX Hybrid SEL on this trip is a relief. Watch me sidestep the navelgazing and…

Look! Shiny car!

the Ford C-MAX at the Davidson rest stop

On the way home, I insisted that we stop at one of those giant sculptures that dot the Canadian prairies, so we pulled over at


to take a closer look at their giant coffee pot and fiddler.

Aidan next to Davidson's giant fiddler
Aidan next to Davidson's giant mug and coffee pot

What surprised us was that there was an open air hut next to the rest stop filled with doves, quail, finches, and number of other kinds of birds. It was such a nice surprise to see a mini bird zoo. Go, Davidson! (I, sadly, accidentally deleted my bird hut pictures with my clumsy thumbs.)


Needless to say, we spent many hours inside the

2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid SEL

over the week that I drove it, and I grew to quite like it. I say


, because this was my first experience with a hybrid vehicle, and after spending some time with the Ford Escape Titanium, I was disappointed in the lack of oomph I felt when I hit the gas. I got over this pretty quickly, though, because the lack of vroom I thought I felt did not translate into a lesser highway experience — I had no trouble passing slow tankers and farm trucks — and by the time we hit Saskatoon we were averaging 5.9L/100km, which is nothing to scoff at.

The interior comfort was nothing to go on and on about, but I also have no complaints about how comfortable it was to drive, which is actually high praise. Comfort design that isn't overtly noticeable but manages to make your experience uncomplicated and enjoyable is an incredible achievement, so kudos to Ford for creating a driving experience that lets me just go about the business of driving without having to futz with a million comfort controls.


Overall, I'm pro

Ford C-MAX Hybrid SEL

. It was comfortable, a great smaller size for booting around the city while being not too shabby on the highway, and I ended my week with an average gas mileage of 6.1L/100km. Also, the trunk handled the luggage of two over-packers plus computers and the Palinode's camera equipment with room to spare.

My only real complaint? The car's name. The one thing every single person who saw the car and rode in it asked me was what the name was about, and they couldn't repeat the string of letters correctly the first time around.

The C-what? The Climax? The SEL? Are they talking about salt?

Mitsou was happy to have another name to go by. We want to talk lovingly about our cars, Ford, not list a string of letters the size of a small sentence that doesn't signify anything to the listener.

I give the 2013 C-MAX Hybrid SEL 3.5 out of 5 kitty cats, which is is the same number of kitty cats I gave the 2013 Escape Titanium, but what the C-MAX lacked in oomph and size it made up for in mileage, dashboard driving school, and general comfort.


And now I'm off to pick up passport photos, because who needs self-esteem? Not me.

259/365: Bright Fall Light

Once Were Flowers