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Upcoming: 2012 Ford C-Max

Ford Motor Company wants Americans to think about something and ponder the following: how big does a minivan have to be in order to fulfill its necessary duties? While the Dodge Caravan, Toyota Sienna, and Honda Odyssey are no longer truly 'mini' vans, Ford believes there's a growing demand amongst America's suburbanites for something smaller, yet just as user and interior space friendly. And we're not talking about another Crossover.

According to Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, "the C-Max is just right for customers who are seeking stylish, flexible transportation and life-enhancing technology that comes standard." Sounds convincing enough, but when examining the specs of this versatile minivan alternative, it just makes even more sense as a solid and affordable family car that combines the best of both minivans and crossovers into a single package. Based off the new global C-vehicle platform that also underpins the all-new 2012 Focus, the C-Max has a longer wheelbase and a raised ride height.

It's powered by a base 2.5-liter iVCT I-4 that's been optimized with plenty of low-end torque. The optional engine will be Ford's all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost I-4 that promises to deliver better performance and improved fuel economy with reduced C02 emissions. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. More importantly, however, is the C-Max's versatility. There are two sliding doors just like those on minivans, along with an industry-first hands-free liftgate, active park assist, panoramic roof, HD Radio, rear view camera, push-button start, and Easy Fuel, which is a capless fuel filler.

Ford is also focusing heavily on safety features in its attempt to lure away traditional minivan buyers. The C-Max will also have AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, dual front and side airbags with a smart occupant sensor, and even a first, second, and third row Safety Canopy with side curtain airbags. It's also been rewarded a EuroNCAP five star crash rating. Perhaps its best selling point is its seating versatility. It can seat up to seven passengers and up to five passengers without the third-row seat, enabling a generous amount of cargo space.

The second row seats also have a slide and recline functionality which allows owners to adapt the C-Max for different combinations of passengers and cargo. Pricing hasn't been announced, but expect for the 2012 C-Max to cost well below the current crop of minivans that easily surpass $40,000 with added features.

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