Ford CMax fixes Mazda5 ills

The Ford C-Max (pic courtesy of Ford)
The 2 box solution
Everyone must have heard Ford’s latest bid to carve out a niche after bringing out the Ford Flex.
This article is focused on lamenting the issues bedeviling the Mazda5 as well commending Ford on its guts in cleaving another niche of the minivan market. It has been a fact of life that, besides Chrysler, no other American OEM has succeeded in selling financially viable quantities of minivans. The Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna are the only real successful minivans other than the Chrysler/Dodge Caravan.
Things changed a bit with the introduction of the Kia Rondo and Mazda5. The Kia, though good value for money, has failed to interest the family man while the Mazda5 holds its own, despite suffering from a host of ills. (Full disclosure here – my wife’s daily driver is a Mazda5). The biggest problem is that the Mazda is a 2+2+2. The issue is when you have to carry five people and luggage, the fifth fellow is relegated to the 3rd row and the poor soul has to share the other half of the seat with assorted luggage. Not a good situation if the driver pretends that the car is MX-5 rather than  a Mazda5. So why deal with the baggage of driving a minivan without the utility.
Here’s where Ford improves on the Mazda5 by offering three seats in the 2nd row. This would be more of a 5+2 but as long as you know what you are getting into, what the heck. The silhouette is a slightly more fashionable 2 box station wagon look rather than the monobox Mazda5 minivan look. The best trick is the 2nd row center seat which stows under the outboard seat cushion. And to think that the Mazda5 had a similar solution for their European market cars and they threw out that feature away for the US market. Duh.
The magical 5th seat
The interior looks more car-like, particularly, by the high center console and apparently higher quality materials than in the other rugrats transporters.
Ford has not decided on powertrains yet but the 160 and 200 bhp inline-fours are distinct possibilites as well as the ecoboost option. I know from my experience with the Mazda5 that 160 bhp is sufficient as long as you are not carrying a full load in a place like Pittsburgh or Colorado for that matter.
The car is also a few inches shorter than the Mazda5, which I don’t know is such a good idea. The lack of decent trunk space in a car this size means that bags and other assorted crap spills over into the passenger area and makes for cramped quarters. 
But overall, it is a commendable effort by Ford to introduce the public to a new type of vehicle, much as in the same vein as the Transit Connect.

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