New Escape a Hybrid Hero

Jan. 31, 2007: The Los Angeles Times—To the Rescue

Summary: "The redesigned 2008 Ford Escape now arriving in showrooms is not all it could have been. In the fastest-growing, most competitive segment in the market — that is, small SUVs/crossovers, including this-minute designs like the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-7, Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda CR-V and the coming-soon Saturn Vue — the Escape gets by with an exterior and interior remodeling, a fluffing of the equipment list, a slightly lower base price and bigger wheels. The powertrains and chassis bits remain fundamentally the same as when the Escape debuted six years ago.

Since then, the Escape has sold more than 1 million copies (that’s the good news) but in those same years Ford Motor Co. has taken it in the neck, brutalized by rising gas prices and steep declines in sales of its cash livestock — full-size SUVs and trucks. In the shadow of a $12-billion loss in 2006 and a traumatic restructuring of its North American operations, Ford is in pretty sorry shape.

Inevitably, these travails have put a crimp in product development, and nowhere is that clearer than in the Ford Escape Hybrid. Three years ago when the gas-sipping variant debuted, I was assured by the powertrain engineers that — though the first generation shared patents and similar architecture with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive (Prius) — the next generation would be more aggressively efficient and more distinctively Ford’s own. That didn’t happen, and I can only attribute that to an R&D dollar deficit."

But, Neil goes on to say, the hybrid Escape performs pretty well, considering those scant resources. It’s quieter, thanks to plushy carpet and acoustic laminate windshield glass. It can still glide silently in electric mode under 25 mph, its EPA combined rating is 32 for the front-wheel driver and 28 for the all-wheel drive version, and its interior is comfortable and beautiful. Rear disc brakes and good clearance round it out.

If you’re looking for a hybrid SUV, it seems you could do a lot worse.

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  • John

    I give credit to ford for having the most fuel efficent SUV on the market at the moment, but i do really hate ford and basically everything ford, cause eveything else they market just has horrible fuel economy.

    Honda CIvic Hybrid Driver.

  • thinkerbelle

    If they only made what we all NEED in a vehicle, there would be very few sedans, even fewer SUVs, and many more Smart cars, not to mention a new class of Sparrow-like enclosed electric motorcycles on the road! :zzz

    Face it, some like plush, quiet-riding, high-up cars. Lotsa my friends (especially petite gals, for some reason) would never consider a Honda Insight, but they might just go for one of these.

  • RichardT

    I agree that what people need in a vehicle is rarely, if ever, considered. The whole of vehicle marketing for the past 60 + years was geared to create wants and eclipse needs Imagine what those petit gals will be considering when gasoline actually does hit $6-7 a gallon…get your bicycles now while they’re cheap! :grin

  • qq

    as long as the mpg is good and the quality is good too, then what’s the problem?
    And I really enjoy using these smileys, so here I go
    :zzz :zzz :zzz :roll :? :? :roll :roll :eek :eek :p :p :p :zzz :zzz :zzz

  • Mike

    The FEH gets good mileage, but Ford needs to invest more in their cars. Maybe reduce that $12B loss they had?

    And I really enjoy using these smileys, so here I go

    You forgot some:
    :grin :grin :) :) 8) 8) :upset :upset :sigh :sigh :cry :cry :( :( :x :x

  • Old Man Crowder

    So they spent their R&D money on bigger wheels, “fluffed equipment” (whatever that means), plushy carpet and acoustic glass?

    Yeah, ‘cuz THAT’s what we all need in a vehicle. :?

  • Green Petite

    I love MPG. :) :) :) :) :)