Base MSRP Range: Not Available
Base Invoice Range: Not Available
MSRP As Tested: Not Available
Versions: Gasoline Electric Hybrid
Vehicle Category: Compact Sport Utility Vehicle
Engine Location: Front Engine
Engine As Tested: 2.3-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 16-valves, W12, 133-horsepower at 6,000rpm and 129 lb-ft torque at 4,500 rpm. Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Electric Motor, 94 Horsepower (70 KW), Hybrid System net horsepower 155 (116 KW)
Transmission As Tested:
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 35/30
Standard Safety Features: Driver and front passenger airbags, power-assisted disc brakes, ">Antilock Braking System (ABS).
Competition: Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Lexus RX 330 Hybrid.
The Ford Escape Hybrid, gas-electric, sport utility is the first product of its kind to hit the market, and the first to be built in the United States. It is beating the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX to market giving it an early opportunity to demonstrate its use to the American public.
A hybrid vehicle is one that uses both a conventional gasoline engine, and an electric drive system. It can use either motor independently, or together, to provide higher mileage and lower emissions. The car's computer determines which motor to use to provide the best fuel economy, shutting off the gas engine when it is not needed, such as at a stop light. When the gasoline engine alone cannot provide enough power, the system engages both engines for higher performance. If the system determines that the electric engine is enough to move the vehicle, it shuts of the gas engine.
The Ford Escape Hybrid produces 99.4% few emissions than a new car in the 1960s. Over 100,000 miles of driving, the car produce less than 1 pound of hydrocarbon emissions, 32% fewer ozone forming emissions than a 2004 Escape with a standard engine.
The Escape Hybrid should get between 35 and 40 miles per gallon under typical city driving -- a 75% improvement over the conventional Escape. Our tests found these numbers to be accurate. We did a fuel-economy test on busy city streets in West Los Angeles and easily exceeded 40 mpg. However some of the driving techniques we used were not normal, such as not coming to complete stops.
On the highway the Escape Hybrid gets about 30 mpg. We have found Ford's estimates of fuel consumption to be accurate based on our tests. They estimate that the combined fuel savings between city and highway driving will be 50% over the standard Escape. It is likely that will be the case.
These vehicles cost about $3,000 more than a normal vehicle. It is dubious whether owners will save that much on gas. However gas savings are not the only reason to purchase one of these vehicles.
The exterior styling of the Escape Hybrid does not differ from the normal Escape in any significant manner. It remains an attractive workhorse. The only way one would know it to be a hybrid-fuel vehicle is a small "leaf and road" badge, and the word "hybrid" on the side of the car. We think that minimizing this kind of labeling helps to keep the Escape Hybrid mainstream.
For a complete description of the Ford Escape, refer to our review of the standard model.
The interior also is similar to the standard Escape, with the exception of two displays. The most significant interior difference is the video display at the top of the center stack, on the dash. This display contains the data for the electric motor such as the power flow, battery condition, and which engine is engaged, and at what capacity. A second screen displays energy consumption in the form of mileage over time.
For further discussion of the Ford Escape's interior, refer to our review of the standard model.
The hybrid system incorporates a 2.3-liter, aluminum, dual overhead cam, 16 valve, inline 4 cylinder engine combined with an electric traction motor. This is the electric motor that runs the car when it is in the electric mode. The electric engine develops the equivalent of 94-horsepower, or 70 kilowatts at 3,000 to 5,000 rpms. The 2.3-liter, 4 cylinder engine generates 133-horsepower at 6,000 rpms, with 129 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpms. The net horsepower of the hybrid system is 155, or 116 kilowatts.
Because the Escape Hybrid can use the gasoline and electric drive system simultaneously Ford claims it has similar performance to their 200-horsepower, V6 Escape. Though we found the hybrid to be a drivable vehicle, there was no normal V6 Escape for us to compare it to. If Ford is going to make the claim that the hybrid performs as well as the V6 Escape, they should provide one for comparison. Hence we cannot corroborate this particular claim.
Ride and Handling
Ford also claims that the ride of the hybrid is the same as a standard Escape. Again, we cannot corroborate this as there was no normal Escape provided for us to compare the hybrid to.
Escapes provide a better ride than do most large SUVs -- similar to a station wagon. The hybrid version we tested was smooth and quiet in the city and on the highway. Compared to other hybrids it was more comfortable to ride in as the passenger compartment is the normal size for a small SUV. Most electric and hybrid products on the market are shaped to provide the best possible mileage, making many of them strange to look at. Normal design is one of the Escape Hybrid's best features.
Ford gave us the opportunity to take the Escape Hybrid off-road. Although the off-roading wasn't challenging, it was a dirt road with ruts, and odd angles. The Escape Hybrid performed no differently than the normal Escape under the same kinds of road conditions. It's nice to know that if you are headed for your mountain cabin you can get there without leaving as much nasty stuff in the environment.
Ford claims the Escape Hybrid can tow 1,000 pounds. This is enough to tow a small boat, personal watercraft, snow mobile or tent trailer. We would have liked to have tested this ourselves to see if there was indeed enough torque to get both the vehicle and the towed items moving. Assuming the towing capacity is real, the Escape Hybrid is perfectly practical as a replacement for any standard small SUV. It functions for commuters and those that like to head out on the weekends with the family and toys.
The Escape Hybrid comes standard with Ford's personal safety system which includes dual-stage driver- and single-stage front-passenger airbags with occupant sensors that determine the weight of the person in the seat and deploys the airbags properly. Three-point safety belts and head restraints are standard for all seating positions. An Antilock Braking System is also standard, as well as 4-wheel disc brakes.
There is an optional safety package with a safety canopy that has side-curtain (head) and thorax-protecting airbags. These are deployed when the vehicle's sensors determine that a rollover is imminent. These stay deployed for a few seconds to continue the protection. This is an important add-on to any version of the Escape product you consider, as it is only with these side airbags that the vehicle does well in crash tests.
This is the first fully functional hybrid vehicle with normal cargo capacity, and mainstream design. It is a normal vehicle. It is unlikely that over the life of the car owners will recoup the premium they pay for the hybrid technology in gas savings. That however could change if gasoline prices remain high, and continue to rise. But the savings coupled with significantly reduced emissions gives small SUV shoppers good reason to consider the product. If one considers themselves a good "green" consumer you'll like this product.
- Style: 7
- Performance: 6
- Price: 7
- Handling: 7
- Ride: 7
- Comfort: 8
- Quality: 8
- Overall: 7.1
Pros: Great gas mileage especially in traffic, carrying capacity, low emissions, status with the Green set.
Cons: Gas savings may not offset higher purchase price.
Where Built: Dearborn Michigan.
Major Options: Safety Canopy
Number of Rows: 2
Length in Inches: 174.9
Warranties: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 miles corrosion, 3/36,000 miles roadside assistance program.
Weight in Pounds: 2WD 3,627, 4WD 3,792.
Maximum Payload in Pounds: 968 .
Maximum Gross Vehicle Weigh in Pounds: Not Available
Towing Capacity in Pounds: 1,000
Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 15
Destination Charge: $590