Ford’s new C-Max minivan will get Sync, MyFord Touch, a hands-free auto-open liftgate, a four-cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost engine, and seven-passenger seating in a swoopy package the same size as the aging Ford Escape SUV. It’s one of 10 vehicles Ford will produce based on the chassis created for the 2011 Ford Focus. The C-Max targets young families looking for something less SUV-like. AdChoices广告Ford went out of its way to not say “minivan” in a media backgrounder or in its press material, but that’s what it appears to be, especially with sliding side doors – a minivan, not a tall wagon, not a crossover, not an SUV. Ford calls it an “all-new, affordable transportation alternative” and a vehicle that combines the “best features of a car and minivan.” Does that help? Regardless, it looks nothing like the boxy Dodge Caravan that started it all in the 1980s, or the massive and star-crossed Ford Windstar. Its closest competitor is the Mazda5. What it is, is a 178-inch, er, front-drive minivan with two seats in front, three in the middle, and a smallish third row with two seats. (You can order it without the third row seats.) The middle seat in the middle row can be folded and stowed under the right-hand seat. Very cool. Ford C-Max Technology Bells and Whistles As for technology of the Ford C-Max, some of it is new and even more of it is new in a vehicle this small: — The hands-free liftgate opener is the one you’ll hear about. Wave you foot under the rear of the car and the liftgate pops up. You need the optional keyless entry system (Intelligent Access) and the automatic liftgate. Approach the back of the C-Max with the key in your pocket and two sensors under the back notice the motion and swing up the liftgate. — There’s of course Ford Sync, the pioneering technology that makes Bluetooth and a music adapter free (upscale models) or cheap (typically $395 on mid-range models). — Also available is the extension of the MyFord Touch touchscreen LCD technology first seen on the Ford Edge, the coming Ford Explorer, and (as MyLincoln Touch) on the Lincoln MKX (see review). Touch a color-coded corner of the screen to access functions for phone, navigation, entertainment, and climate control. It’s pretty neat once you know how to use it; Ford and some reviewers have differing opinions about how easy it is to pick up. (See Is MyFord Touch a Safety Hazard (to Already Inattentive Drivers)?) This is the smallest vehicle announced so far with MyFord Touch. –Active park assist. It helps you find a parallel parking spot you can fit into and then backs the car in. You still control throttle and brakes. — Rear view camera. — Four-cylinder turbocharged (Ecoboost), 1.4 liter engine that will deliver 180 hp on premium fuel or 168 hp on regular; your choice. The entry-level engine with be a 2.5-liter, non-turbo engine that gets 168 hp (only) regardless of fuel grade and makes total vehicle weight be 3,743 pounds, 100 more than the turbo version. Ford didn’t describe fuel economy. Both have a six-speed automatic transmission. C-Max: New Model, Not a ReplacementThe C-Max minivan appears to be an addition to the Ford line. The Ford Escape compact SUV likely will continue (using the same platform as the C-Max when it gets renewed d) and will be branded as a more rugged off-road vehicle with all-wheel drive abilities. Ford describes its target market as young families and the C-Max appears to be another vehicle effectively telling baby boomers their time in the sun has passed. Although, as has happened with many other vehicles targeting Gen Y and Millenials, the C-Max may be perfect for boomers downsizing from big SUVs and crossovers. These are the buyers most often looking for high-tech, sometimes high-cost options offered on the costlier, bigger cars they’re moving out of. Ford did not say when the U.S. model will be available but it’s expected to be in the second half of 2011. The current (second) generation C-Max just started shipping in Europe. The U.S. never got the first-gen C-Max. C is a European designation for compact cars, typically referred to as the C-Segment. (The A-segment is mini cars, the B-segment is subcompacts, the D-segment is mid-size cars, is full-size and large midsize cars, and the F-segment is a full-size luxury car.) Bottom line: Everyone who travels to Europe sees amazing cars and wonders, “Why don’t they bring it to the U.S. – I’m sure it would sell.” The Ford C-Max is just that vehicle.