Ford Escape Hybrid: Most Fuel-Efficient SUV on Earth?

Ford is running an advertising campaign, billing the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid as “the Most Fuel-Efficient SUV on Earth.” There’s no questioning that the Escape Hybrid delivers great gas mileage figures … for a SUV. But the claim that the Escape Hybrid is the world’s best demands closer inspection.

It’s time for a fact check.

While the Escape Hybrid is indeed the most fuel-efficient SUV currently for sale in the United States of America, it might not be the most fuel-efficient SUV in the entire world.

Equipped with a 2.2 liter i-CTDi common rail turbo diesel engine, the all-wheel-drive 2007 Honda CR-V currently on sale in Great Britain is rated at 34.9 Urban / 49.6 Extra Urban / 43.5 Combined in miles per British gallon. Since the British gallon is larger than the US gallon, we need to convert the numbers to US specs.

In US numbers, the 2007 4WD Honda CR-V i-CTDi diesel is rated at:

  • 29.1 City
  • 41.3 Highway
  • 36.2 Combined

The 2008 FWD Ford Escape Hybrid is rated at:

  • 34 City
  • 30 Highway
  • 32 Combined

The 2008 4WD Ford Escape Hybrid is rated at:

  • 29 City
  • 27 Highway
  • 28 Combined

If you need a front-wheel-drive SUV primarily for city driving, the Ford Escape Hybrid clearly comes out on top. But if you need four-wheel-drive capabilities and/or do a significant amount of highway driving, the turbo-diesel Honda CR-V is more fuel-efficient.

Alas, the diesel CR-V may not be available in America until the 2009 or 2010 model year.

The front-wheel-drive vs. four-wheel-drive question bears considerable weight. If you’ve determined that 4WD is not a necessity, why buy a SUV at all? The diesel-powered FWD Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen promises fuel-efficiency ratings that should exceed those of both the Escape Hybrid and the diesel Honda CR-V. Early buzz indicates that the upcoming oil-burning VW wagon may reach 40 City / 60 Highway (actual EPA ratings are yet to be released).

The diesel Jetta Sportwagon is expected to arrive in the states in the spring of 2008.

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4 thoughts on “Ford Escape Hybrid: Most Fuel-Efficient SUV on Earth?”

  1. I have the 2008 4WD Ford Escape Hybrid. I’m definitely not as wasteful a driver as average (I coast up to traffic lights, accelerate carefully, etc.), but I get FAR better mileage than the EPA estimate of 29 combined: 33-34, even though I live in the mountains.

    That’s not to say I wouldn’t get better-than-claimed mileage in an all-wheel-drive 2007 Honda CR-V diesel too, and I agree with you that Ford is stretching it by claiming it sells the most fuel-efficient SUV “on earth”, but it’s also good to be reminded that EPA estimates aren’t gospel either.

  2. Great to hear that you’re exceeding the EPA estimates, Randy!

    Too many folks complain that their vehicle fails to reach the estimated mileage, but I’d reckon in too many cases, they simply (drive like my wife and) stomp on the accelerator and brake pedals with glee, abandon, and little regard for fuel-efficiency.

  3. actually, what I recall by the dealer when I bought mine was the “greenest suv on the planet”….A large percentage of the interior is recycled materials….

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