Ford Cmax

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What it is: A small minivan that seats up to seven. Think current Mazda 5 but more interesting-looking. Why it matters: At the moment, Ford doesn't have any three-row offerings priced below $30,000. Platform: It'sunderpinncdbythe next-gen Ford Focus architecture. Powertrain: The C-Max will be offered with the same i55-hp,2.o-literdirect-injcction four-cylinder that will power the Focus; a higher-output (180 horses), 1.6-liter turbo four may make the cut as well. A dual-clutch transmission will do the shifting chores. Competition: Kia Ror.do, Mazda 5. What might go wrong: Ford is betting it will increase the sales in this segment because of its marketing clout and range of dealers, but it could turn out to be a smaller niche than the company imagined. Plus, because the C-Max is being built in Europe, the exchange rate might hurt profit margins. Estimated arrival and price: Late 2011 as a 2012 model. Expect a base price of about $20,000, rising to more than $25,000 with options.

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