Conservative and Cool—The Ford Escape Hybrid
By Kate McLeod
The Ford Escape (and it’s sister the Mercury Mariner) are the only hybrid small SUVs to offer 4WD; it is also the world’s most fuel efficient SUV. In LA traffic, our Escape got 51 mpg in a contest with others. (One got over 58 mpg, but I think these guys pushed from behind with the motor off just so they could win––so competitive.) You can expect 35 city/30 highway. City mileage is higher because you use the electric power more when you stop and start. The 133 horsepower, 4-cylinder engine combines with the 94 horsepower electric motor to produce a combined 155 HP. The PZEV emissions designation (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) means it will produce less than one pound of hydrocarbon emissions over 100,000 miles––so cool.
The instrument panel gauges instantly show you energy flow and fuel consumption diagrams. For some inexplicable reason, this is endlessly fascinating. In a hybrid you save fuel several ways––the obvious way is engine shut off; the engine is smaller than a regular engine and the weight of the vehicle is less. The Escape Hybrid front-wheel drive weighs 3620 and the AWD weighs 3782.
The exterior of the Ford Escape Hybrid is no different from the regular hybrid. The egg-crate SUV grille, integral fog lamps and quad headlamps with jewel effect clear lenses create a handsome front end. You can order it with bright silver, painted body cladding. Sixteen-inch wheels with all-season tires are standard. A road-and-leaf hybrid badge announces your virtue on the liftgate and front doors. The Escape has a slightly aggressive stance with bold wheel wells and a rugged look––you will look good; you will get noticed.
OK, it’s practical. Should you need more than 27.6 cubic feet of cargo space, lower the 60:40 split rear seats and you’ll have a total of 65.5 cubic feet. If you’re not hauling booty from the thrift shop, pile four friends into the Escape and drive to the White House and take Dick Cheney out for a latte. The lift gate has a flip-up rear glass so you can dump stuff in the back easily. You cannot pull a horse trailer with this little SUV, but you can tow if you are properly equipped up to 1,000 lbs. So kayaks, yes, horses, no.
With no compromises the Escape covered highway, city and offroad driving on my test drive. It handled easily in L.A. traffic (is there a tougher test?) and up in the mountains outside L.A. The steering with electric power assist is nicely responsive. I love the size of this vehicle––I’m one who’s a bit overwhelmed by monster Expeditions and the like. I mean we don’t have to outrun elephants. We live in the U.S. where most of the roads are paved and there are places that have been tamed for our off-road entertainment. Personally I think this vehicle fits the bill for any circumstance. When in need, who doesn’t have a friend with a truck? If you don’t, make one.
Safety in the Escape Hybrid includes dual-stage driver and single-stage front passenger air bags. The structure has been reinforced to increase protection in offset frontal crashes.
Optional safety equipment includes a side curtain rollover protection system and a thorax protecting side impact air bags. OK, now find your thorax.
The Ford Escape Hybrid ain’t cheap. It runs from a base price of $28,455 to around $30,000 with options.
Ford is a gay-friendly company.
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