MPG-o-Matic Ford Escape Hybrid Review Summary: The Ford Escape Hybrid is a five seat sport utility that competes with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Toyota Highlander, and Jeep Patriot, among others. In a crowded field, the Escape Hybrid’s excellent gas mileage set Ford’s innovative SUV apart from the competition.
Make no mistake about it … the Ford Escape Hybrid is the most fuel efficient SUV available here in the States.
The EPA gas mileage estimates for the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid are 34 city / 30 highway for the front-wheel-drive version and 29 city / 27 highway for the all-wheel-drive version. In a week of driving in twenty to thirty degree weather, we easily exceeded the estimates for our front-wheel-drive test unit … achieving a combined average of 31.8 miles per gallon, and a remarkable 38 miles per gallon in the city.
Unlike many SUVs, the Escape Hybrid is well suited for in town driving, with a tight turning radius and the potential for 40 MPG when driven conscientiously.
The Escape Hybrid qualifies as a Partial Zero Low Emission Vehicle. Its high-tech propulsion system consists of is a 2.3 liter Atkinson Cycle inline four cylinder engine and an electric motor, rated at 155 horsepower and 124 foot pounds of torque, in total.
At speeds under 25 miles per hour, the Escape Hybrid can be eerily quiet, when it operates solely under electric power. As you apply more pressure to the accelerator, the conventional engine will instantly come to life.
The electric motor works in tandem with the four-cylinder engine while accelerating. Under heavy acceleration, the four-banger makes its presence known. Braking acts to recharge the system’s 330-volt sealed nickel-metal-hydride battery pack.
The cabin has a high-tech, if somewhat businesslike feel. While you’ll find plenty of amenities, it’s not a luxury barge, nor a cushy living room on wheels. My teenage daughter summed it up with the words, “it’s so square, Dad!”
I’ll take that as meaning as angular, rather than un-hip … because the Escape Hybrid has plenty of cool features …
With an in-dash audio input jack, dual-zone climate control as standard equipment, optional heated front seats, a 110-volt electrical outlet, navigation system, and a LCD hybrid system display, we didn’t feel left behind.
That having been said, while our test unit was fitted with Ford’s Audiophile sound system, we were left longing for the ultra cool Microsoft Sync system, which is not available in the 2008 Escape.
The roomy and flexible interior accommodates five, with plenty of storage space for those extended shopping expeditions. The split fold down rear seat and tailgate window provide flexibility when loading.
Ford’s innovative Escape Hybrid fills a big niche and is an excellent choice for many green-minded families and businesses, when green isn’t just about the environment, but the stuff that flows from your wallet.
No SUV goes as far to stretch a fuel budget.
– by Daniel Gray
April 3rd, 2008
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