Recently, I parked my plug-in Prius near my daughter's camp in Cambridge, MA, and took the train into Boston for a normal work day. When I returned that evening, I was shocked to find my car smashed up! According to the police report on my windshield, some reckless driver had crashed into three parked cars, and mine got the worst of it. The insurance company deemed it a total loss and it agreed to pay us what it believed a 14-month-old plug-in Prius with 13,000 miles was worth.
Now, my husband and I were faced with an interesting challenge: do we buy a new 2013 plug-in Prius, a used 2012 plug-in Prius, or one of the new plug-in vehicle options that had come out since we had purchased our car?
Given that so many companies have been coming out with new models of plug-in vehicles, there were at least a few new cars to consider -- and I encourage folks to check out information about all the plug-in models on the market at the Sierra Club's new online EV Guide. We're usually a one-car family, and we take frequent long-distance trips throughout New England to visit family, so we wanted to stick with a plug-in hybrid. That meant the full battery electrics, such as the 2013 models of the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus EV, Fiat 500E, Smart ForTwo electric, Rav4 electric, and Tesla Model S, were out. A few of these models, plus the Honda Accord plug-in hybrid, are not available in Massachusetts yet anyway.
Unfortunately, we also had to disqualify the 2013 Chevy Volt, which has been getting less expensive, despite rave reviews. You see, it only has four seats, and we have two kids plus frequent playdate additions.
That left the Ford C-MAX Energi, which I had been curious about since it first came on the market several months earlier. The Energi goes about 20 miles on electric charge, and then Car and Driver magazine says it gets about 32 mpg in hybrid mode for its next few hundred miles on the highway. I visited the Ford dealership of Watertown, MA, where they claim to be selling more hybrids and electrics than any other Ford dealership in New England. My salesman was excited to show me the cool features of the Energi, like its ability to train its drivers to break and accelerate more efficiently by giving a score (I got a 94 percent!). I really enjoyed the ride, and I liked that I was a little higher up than in the Prius.