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First Drive: 2012 Ford C-Max

Getting the max out of the minivan.

by on Dec.20, 2010

Ford introduces a hands-free liftgate system on its new 2012 C-Max.

When it’s time to set up a joke on late-night television, there are several things that will always get you a laugh.  Mention New Jersey, for one.  Or minivans.  The much-maligned people mover is seemingly a stand-in for everything worth jibing about with suburban American life.

Which is funny because, when it comes down to practicality, perhaps no vehicle more serious about doing its job than the classic American minivan.  They’re roomy, safe, practical, efficient and, well, try to squeeze nearly as much stuff into the back of an SUV, or simply get the kids in and buckled up without that signature sliding door.

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Which is why, despite the most dire predictions, the minivan market hasn’t dried up and blown away. If anything, it’s regaining strength after hitting last year’s segment low – and giving hope to Ford Motor Co. that its newest offering will finally help the maker capture a solid share of what it prefers to call the “people-mover segment” with the all-new 2012 Ford C-Max.

Call it what you will, but this compact 7-seater could finally give Ford a shot at buyers who have long ignored offerings like the Windstar and Freestar (Click Here for more.) And if we see the serious run up in fuel prices many predict, the C-Max could become a serious alternative to the bigger minivans that currently comprise the vast majority of what’s available in the U.S.

The 2012 Ford C-Max is surprisingly roomy, despite its compact footprint, attractive, affordable and fuel efficient.  It also offers a number of interesting innovations – including a new hands-free liftgate that we expect competitors like Chrysler, Honda and Toyota racing to reverse-engineer.