One of the cool things about Napa: the strides that the community is making to encourage green living. We happened to rent a hybrid vehicle for our road trip, and were pleasantly surprised to enjoy preferential parking at many of the venues around the Valley!
I should own up though: I honestly did not know what to think when I saw the Ford C-MAX in the driveway. JBS was in charge of car rental, and she had secured a bright blue “multi-activity vehicle“. I wasn’t even familiar with the term “multi-activity vehicle” until I saw the C-MAX. Then I realized that it was a hybrid as well.
From the outside, the car looked small, and I was a bit worried. We had planned to hire a driver and have him haul us around in our rental car. An option that is a cost-effective way to see Napa with an expert, and also leverage the investment we made in the rental car. We also reasoned it would be environmentally responsible! Bill had driven us around the year before and we found him to be polite, responsible, and very knowledgable about the vineyards and responsive to our preferences. Still, I was very unsure about sitting in the backseat!
I didn’t need to worry. The car had capacity for five, though I think four was a better number for shopping and touring with adults in the front and back seat. Still, the seats were comfortable, and there was plenty of leg and head room.
The car was a gamer’s dream. I really enjoyed driving it–and can see how someone might get addicted to driving a hybrid. The car gives you plenty of feedback and tells you, each time you break, how much energy you’re “returning to the car”. After driving the car for a few days, it began to become a game with me: how much energy could I return each time I hit the brakes? When I was able to get it right, essentially estimating the distance to between our car and the car in front of us, I would receive a higher score. Getting lost and dealing with drivers suddenly hitting the brakes “cost me points” or lowered my score, and I didn’t like that very much!
I also liked the car’s automatic trunk. As we were frequently opening and closing the trunk filing it with wine, suitcases and helping our friend clean up, it was immensely handy!
For her part, JBS really was dazzled by the gas mileage. Having just purchased a SUV, she couldn’t believe how far we were able to travel on one tank of gas. According to the car’s website, it gets about 47 miles to the gallon. We felt like it might have been a little less than that, but still, it wasn’t too shabby.
Overall, we were both surprised by how much we liked the car. There were only two complaints: first, the car had a beautiful moon roof–but that was the extent of it. It didn’t open. What a shame too, because the design would have made for a lovely sun roof. And the second thing: the quiet engine. I know it’s strange to complain that the engine was quiet–but it was so quiet, that we actually, accidentally left the car running–and discovered upon our return that the car was idling!!! It was also a little tricky when turning the car on and off to tell if it was really on, or really off?
All told, we loved the C-MAX so much, we had to tell you, because we’re SUV drivers. And, before I wrapped my series of Napa posts, I wanted to remember to tell you about Bill. It was great having a local expert schedule tastings for us, meet us at our hotel and drive us around. He was friendly and safe, and substantially less expensive than a limo or car service! Highly recommend if you’re visiting the Valley.