C-Max Puts Ford Back Into the Minivan Game. Why?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

What’s it with Ford and sliding doors? After getting its butt kicked by every minivan manufacturer known to man (excepting GM and including a descendant Chrysler), the Blue Oval Boyz got out of the minivan biz. Ford then got it into their head that there’s a huge swath of American consumers who want a minivan, but won’t buy it because it’s a minivan. “Sliding doors carry a stigma, which is why the minivan has fallen” out of favor with some US buyers, Ford group vice president of global product development Derrick Kuzak told Automotive News [sub]. Instead of selling these minivan refugees an existing SUV or CUV, Dearborn’s darlings spent billions developing a car that looks like something between a scaled-up MINI Clubman and a funeral hearse (a.k.a. the Flex). Wrong answer. And just in case that answer wasn’t wrong enough, Ford’s bringing over the C-Max. It’s a seven passenger vehicle—with hidden sliding doors! So it’s not a minivan. It’s not a wagon. It’s not a Flex (whatever that is). It’s a . . . “multi-activity vehicle.”

So, no more of that minivan niche sales stuff then, right? Mass market is where it’s at! Only . . .

Today, U.S. competitors for the seven-passenger C-Max would include the Mazda5 and the Kia Rondo. The Chevrolet Orlando will arrive in 2011.

Strange; I can’t find the Mazda5 on Automotive News‘ spreadsheet. OK, her name is Rio. Last month, Kia sold 6,951 units, for an eight-month, year-to-date total of 20,422. Guess how many went into rental fleets? Seriously, I don’t know. But I’m betting it was a lot (so to speak).

What are the odds the C-Max will take the market by storm? And can Ford please stop making new models now?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Dmrdano Dmrdano on Sep 16, 2009

    I want it. I don't normally buy new cars, but I might make an exception. If they can do this car, well equipped, for under $20-22K, they will sell like hotcakes (whatever that means). I always need to haul at least four, but often six or seven. This car is perfect (especially with a roof rack), assuming it has enough power to make occasional runs with a lot of people in it. Please do not compare this to the Aerostar, arguably the worst vehicle ever to wear a blue oval. The Windstar was no better. Most Fords are good overall cars, and are embarrassed to be seen with them.

  • Tinker Tinker on Apr 28, 2011

    So WHY has Ford decided NOT to bring us the 40 and 50 mpg versions of this vehicle? Why would we want the GRAND Gas Guzzler version but not the ordinary CMAX. And why do they target younger folks, not the graying soon-to-retire Boomers? I am looking at this segment, mostly because my body can no longer bend and twist to fit into smaller cars, and I want HEADROOM, (and yes, a low step-in height). They could make the 3 row version for those wanting an upgrade/larger vehicle. The sliding doors neither hurt nor help the situation, but I could see a 4 seat version, with a fair amount of storage, and good road manners, with 40 mpg in my future. So WHAT STOPS FORD from filling that market? Are they DEAF, and BLIND or SIMPLY STUPID? Yes, I remember the Escort, but then I also remember that the Mustang was a practical vehicle, too.

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