I have been shopping recently for a small/midsize suv that gets reasonable mileage and moderate offroading capability. I'll probably buy the Rav4, and I would have gone for a Hybrid Rav4 if it were available. Some comments:

- The Rav4 V6 4x4 non-hybrid gets BETTER highway mileage than the Lexus Hybrid and only 1 highway mpg less than the Hybrid Escape 4x4.

- Average mpg of (city + hwy)/2, the Rav4 above gets only 2.5 mpg less than the Lexus and only 5.5 less than the Ford.

- Rav4 has higher clearance and better approach/departure angles than the Lexus, in spite of being a smaller vehicle. It also has locking differential and the ability to lock it into 4WD, which are usually only found in larger 4x4's.

- Escape Hybrid is EXTREMELY HARD TO FIND. The nearest dealer that has one is over 400 miles away. So much for choosing my favorite color or options! When I looked for the Hybrid at my local Ford dealer, the salesman talked down hybrids and tried to get me into the non-hybrid model. No doubt, they were trying to sell what was in inventory. The non-hybrid V6 Escape actually drove pretty well, but it gets only 1mpg better than the Nissan X-Terra or the Toyota 4Runner!

Ford probably has a great vehicle with the Escape Hybrid. But if they can't get it to the customer, then what's the point?