Ford C-Max

Built on the Ford Focus platform, the C-Max is a compact multi-purpose world vehicle. Only the hybrid version is sold in the U.S., where it was introduced in September.

"C-Max is very impressive," Brauer said. "It drives as well or better than any other hybrid, and it is inexpensive."

C-Max is likely to give the successful Toyota Prius a run for its money. "It competes directly with Prius, and it's a hot new car, while Prius is old," Brauer said. "Ford buyers might go running out to buy it."

Unfortunately, while Prius gets 50 miles per gallon, questions have arisen about Ford's claims of 47 mpg combined highway and city for the C-Max. Testing by Consumer Reports has shown 37 mpg overall -- good but not close to Ford's claims.

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