I absolutely love this car. Itís peppy, seats five, handles smooth as silk ó and it has an EPA rating of 100 MPGe.

Thatís not a typo. The Ford C-MAX Energi has an overall fuel economy rating of 100 MPGe (43 MPG when used in gas only mode). It is ideal for those looking to maximize their transportation dollars.

The C-MAX Energi is Fordís first electric plug-in hybrid. (Think of the Chevy Volt, only better).

As a plug-in hybrid, it is powered by a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle I-4 engine requiring regular unleaded gasoline, coupled with a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor that generates 118 horsepower and 117 lbs.-ft. torque.

Like the Volt, you fill it up with gas and also plug it into a regular outlet (or recharging station) to charge the 7.6 kWh Lithium-ion battery. The C-MAX Energi can operate in electric only mode (at speeds up to 85 mph for up to 21 miles), in gas-only mode (top speed of 102 mph) or in combination. It has a range of 620 miles (on a tank of gas and full charge); and, it has an EPA MPG-equivalent fuel economy rating of 108 mpge city, 92 mpge highway for a combined 100 mpge.

You can fully charge the battery in 2.5 hours using 240V or 7 hours using regular 120V. You can even control the recharging options via your smart phone.

Because the C-MAX Energi has a 141-horsepower I-4 gasoline engine, you never have to worry about the battery running out of range (unlike an electric only vehicle). And, the I-4 has lots of power, so even in gas-only mode, there is no compromise on performance.

Unlike any other vehicle, the C-MAX Energi lets the driver decide what mode to operate in. In EV (Electric Vehicle) mode, it operates in electric only until the battery is depleted, then switches to gas. The driver can also choose to operate in hybrid mode, reserving eclectic power for optimum performance (and added fuel economy) until you decide you want to use the EV mode. One of the many things I like about the C-MAX Energi is its interior room and versatility.

Not only does it seat five passengers comfortably, thereís also 19.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seat and 42.8 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat, making it a true multi-activity vehicle.

The C-MAX Energi is also loaded with safety features, including seven standard airbags, voice-activated navigation system with SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Travel Link services, Sync with MyFord Touch, EV mode button, SmartGauge with EcoGuide to aid in fuel-efficient driving, anti-lock brakes with regenerative braking and AdvanceTrac traction control with roll stability control system, to name but a few.

Available in only the SEL trim level, the C-MAX Energi is fully loaded, with premium audio system, heated seats and the latest connectivity features on the market today. It is very nicely equipped.

With a base price of $32,950 (before the federal incentive rebate of $3,750), it is one of the most affordable models in the EV and EV-hybrid segment.

It is also my top pick of all the hybrids.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts

MODEL:

2013 Ford C-MAX Energi

5-seat plug-in hybrid †

Front-wheel drive

PRICE RANGE:

$32,050 ($29,995 after federal incentive rebate)

(Specs for C-MAX Energi only)

ENGINE:

2.0L Atkinson cycle I-4

(141 hp/129 torque)

Permanent magnet AC synchronous motor (118 hp/117 torque)

7.6 kWh Lithium-ion battery

TRANSMISSION:

eCVT

EPA: 100 mpge (electric only), 43 mpg (gas only)

RANGE: 620 miles

FUEL: Regular unleaded

STABILITY CONTROL:

AdvanceTrac with roll stability control

BRAKES: ABS with regenerative braking

LENGTH: 173.6 inches

WHEELBASE: 104.3 in.

WIDTH: 82.1 inches

HEIGHT: 63.8 inches

WEIGHT: 3,899 lbs.

TRACK: 60.5/60.4

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 14 gallons

TIRES: 17-inch

TOP SPEED: 102 mph (85 mph in electric only mode)

CARGO: 19.2/42.8 cubic feet (behind 2nd/1st row)