A model also sold on other continents, the 2014 Ford CMax has a decidedly European flavor in its design. Fitting into the Ford family between the Focus and Escape crossover, it shares the styling DNA that has been popular for all three.

As a Hybrid only model, its low stance is form following function to make it more aerodynamic and therefore more fuel efficient. As a Hybrid or Plug-In Hybrid in the Energi trim grade, it doesn’t scream it to the world how different it is from the pack.

Inside, our base model SE had cloth seating that felt sturdy and looked very businesslike. The material was breathable even in our Arizona heat. The seats were manually adjusted up front on both sides and provided a firm feel.

The shift lever and steering wheel are wrapped in leather for a nice grip. A myriad of controls are provided on the steering wheel for the SYNC features as well as the dual screen information menus on the instrument cluster.

The dash spans far out in front of you giving an innate sense of space. Our tester was optioned with the 203A package which included MyFord Touch, Sirius satellite radio, and navigation. There was also the power lift-gate and reverse sensing system.

What I found oddly missing from this package was a back-up camera. Most automakers when they put in a large screen infotainment system, the extra $30 for a rear camera at that point is almost a given. Its a feature that might have been nice given some of this vehicles blind spots.

Rear passengers will know they are in a compact vehicle as the legroom is what I would call adequate. Headroom on the other hand is quite accommodating as is the ingress and egress afforded by its larger doors.

Being an MPV there is plenty of storage throughout. This includes some handy compartments under the floor-mats of the second row for smaller items, a large center console bin, and a sizable glove box.
In the rear cargo hold is also a hidden storage area.

Back here the load floor is a bit high to make room for the hybrid battery, but affords a completely flat cargo hold with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down. There’s 24.6 cubic feet behind the 2nd row and up to 52.6 cubic feet when they are folded.

Overall the interior is well executed with higher quality materials and fit than found in Ford products of the past. The MyFord Touch infotainment system was augmented with some additional hard controls this year which helps using it on the road, but it still has some room for improvement.

Under the hood is Ford’s first in-house designed and engineered hybrid drive system built around a 2.0 liter Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. Driven through a constantly variable transmission, it offers a total system 188 horsepower.

The power-train is more refined than some of its competition in the areas noise, vibration and harshness. Transitions from gasoline to electric power feel seamless, though you can hear them. The engine noise seems well muffled and only becomes much if you really push it.

It provides generous power when you need it from both the gasoline engine and electric motor combined. The newest EPA rating for the 2014 Ford CMax is 42 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, and a total combined rating of 40 mpg.

Ride and drive is very similar to that of the Ford Focus or Escape crossover upon which the CMax shares its chassis. This means a firm ride that offers up a sporting feel on curves and around town.

The 2014 Ford CMax Hybrid is rated by the IIHS as a Top Safety Pick as it achieved good on all tests and an Acceptable rating on the new small-overlap front crash. As the CMax does not offer crash prevention system, it is not eligible for Top Safety Pick + status.

In our week of testing we achieved 43 mpg combined which is a bit over what the new EPA estimates promise. Our overall rating of the vehicle this week is four out of five stars. For more news and test drives of hybrid or electric vehicles see our partner channel Motoring2.com.