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Last year, sales of electric vehicles and hybrids zoomed up 73 percent, with lots of new models coming to market. Still, when you think about eco-conscious driving, chances are you think of the Prius, which has sold more than a million cars domestically and wins critical accolades.

But now the Prius has new competition for America?s green hearts and minds. It?s the 2013 Ford C-Max (from $25,200), a new hatchback that?s a little taller and faster than the Prius V (from $26,650).

When we took a recent test drive, we were impressed by the C-Max?s roominess: It?s based on a boxy European car body with lots of headroom. Large electronic panels on the dash allow navigation, voice-activated phone calls and instant feedback on how efficiently you?re driving. Luxe touches include a panoramic windshield and über-comfy seats padded with recycled blue jeans.

While the comparable Prius claims to have an additional 10 cubic feet of cargo space, we found that the C-Max?s fold-down rear seats provide plenty of room for hauling estate-sale treasures or the contents of a dorm room (this is a great student vehicle). Though this is no sports car, the 188-horsepower engine zipped us through traffic--and at 47 miles per gallon, we couldn?t be happier to ease up on the gas.

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