Ford Escape (Hybrid), 2007: The Weekly Driver Car Review

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Introduced in 2004, the Escape hybrid complemented Ford’s already popular compact sport utility vehicle line. The Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner are remarkably similar SUVs, with the Mariner also available in a hybrid model.

With its hybrid model, the Escape and its close hybrid sibling easily overcome the the SUV stigma — poor gas mileage. The Escape features a “full” hybrid electric system. It works in three different ways — as pure electric power, pure gasoline power or a combination of the two systems.

While braking or decelerating, the Escape’s hybrid system relies on regenerative braking. The electric motor operates as a generator and coverts the vehicle’s momentum back to electricity for storage in the batteries.

The system may sound complicated, but it all worked well in my weekly driver, one of four available 2007 Escapes.Like other hybrid vehicles, the Escape has a better city driving mph average than its freeway rating. It’s the opposite, of course, for gasoline engine vehicles. It all made perfect sense while driving the Escape, with the engine switching to its electric (and more efficient) mode at slow speeds, signal lights and stop signs.

The transfer presents the Escape hybrid’s one major concern: When decelerating, the engine has a high-pitched whine, not unlike the sound of a distant ambulance. Once you get used the noise, all is well. But the first several times I heard the pitch, I thought an emergency vehicle was in the vicinity.

The Escape hybrid’s 4-cylinder gas engine and electric motor combine for 155 horsepower. As such, the hybrid isn’t a quick accelerator, but it does seem faster than its rating of 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds. The hybrid Escape is only available with an automatic transmission.

As a compact SUV, the hybrid has good interior space for passengers and a good-sized cargo area. The rear seatbacks, for example, fold flat if the headrests are removed and the seat bottoms are rotated up. The interior design is straightforward, with large, legible gauges and an efficient ease of use.

There are too many red vehicles on the road today, and my Escape offered one of the more attractive alternatives. The exterior paint is designated as Vista Blue Clearcoat Metallic (a rich dark blue), and it nicely matches the silver two-tone bottom finish and the dark flint leather interior.

The hybrid Escape has a diverse, if small, selection of standard features: rear window defrost, two-speed wipers and an easy-to-use liftgate with flip-up glass. But my test vehicle also included an expensive option with a cumbersome name — the Energy Audiophile and Navigation System ($1,995). It also included a few odd extra charges, an AC 110-volt power outlet ($180), for example. A “leather comfort group” added another $595, a non-detailed safety package also added  $595 and the appearance package added  $695.

The options and the destination charge pushed the total price to more than $30,000. That’s a hefty total for a compact SUV. But at least the sticker price can be rationalized with superior fuel efficiency and the hybrid’s clean exhaust-system benefits.

The Weekly Driver: 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid

Safety Features – Dual front seat side airbags.

Fuel Mileage (estimates) – 36 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway).

Warranty – Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 8 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; (24-hour) roadside assistance program, 3 years/36,000 miles.

Base Price – $25,600.00

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