Ford Escape Hybrid, 2010: The Weekly Driver Car Review

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escape2A hybrid sport utility vehicle? About six years ago, the idea still seemed outrageous. But then the Ford Escape hybrid debuted. Skeptics sneered. But now SUV hybrids are plentiful from several manufacturers. In other words, there’s competition for the Ford Escape, even if some of the competition remains from Ford via the very similar Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute.

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The Escape hybrid is a “full” hybrid electric system, meaning the system can switch automatically between pure electric power, pure gasoline engine power or a combination of electric battery and gasoline engine operating together. That means  maximum performance and efficiency.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Inclement weather or off-road treks are always good ways to test an SUV. I didn’t do either in my week with the Escape. But a solid week of mixed city and freeway driving also gives a good idea of a vehicle’s versatility. In parking lots, vision is fine for what seems to be all-too-tight conditions in modern-day malls. On the freeway, the Escape handled itself with confidence. In the SUV segment, the Escape is quiet on the open road.

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Ford Escape Hybrid Interior

There’s ample comfort for front and rear-seat passengers and everything is designed cleanly, if conservatively. The look is square, not curved. Functionality rules over any semblance of plushness. Still, the look is handsome considering the segment. Black plastic dominates the console, and it’s attractive. It’s also likely prone to easy scratching.

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Dials, knobs, door handles, the glovebox and cupholders are easy to use, with the illuminated cupholders a clever idea not found in many luxury vehicles. Leather seats are optional and the beige seats matched against the black console works like a pair of saddle shoes.

Ford Escape Hybrid Exterior

Manufacturers are keen on trying different color shades. Green was once the most popular color choice for cars, but it was long ago replaced by white. The exterior paint color of my weekly test drive Escape was Kiwi Green Metallic. It’s not a neutral color choice by any definition. It’s an all-or-none color. I thought the color looked classy; Plenty of friends disliked the color. The boxy body style has remained unchanged since 2008.

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Ford Escape Hybrid Performance

When braking or decelerating, the Escape’s hybrid system uses regenerative braking, where the electric drive motor becomes a generator, converting the vehicle’s momentum back to electricity for storage in the batteries.

With 155 hp (116 kW), the Hybrid Escape has nearly the same acceleration performance as the conventional 200 hp (150 kW) V6 Escape.

As a result, the hybrid’s acceleration in my experiences during the past few years, remains the same as the non-hybrid — with one exception. On step inclines or long, steady grades, the hybrid is underpowered.

Likes:

Illuminated entry.

Illuminated (bright blue) cupholders.

Handsome coordination of blue and red back-lighting on instrument panel.

Crisp digital radio and rear view camera screen.

Comfortable seats.

Dislikes:

Black plastic on console. Looks clean, scratches easily.

Must release foot brake by hand. It’s not an easy reach.

2010 Ford Escape Hybrid LTD: Facts & Figures

Acceleration: 0-60 mph (8.9 seconds, gas engine); hybrid untested.
Airbags: Front, front side and side curtain airbags.
Antilock brakes: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Fuel economy (EPA estimates) 34 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway)
Government Safety Ratings: Front driver/passenger (five stars); Side crash frojt (five stars), rear seat (five stars); Rollover (three stars).
Horsepower: 155.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $32,260.00
Price As tested: $35,775.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/unlimited miles; Corrosion, 6 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.
Web site: www.fordvehicles.com.

What Others Say:

“The Escape is a hybrid SUV with solid moves at an affordable price for which no excuses need be made.”
—- Car and Driver.

“The Escape Hybrid is also a very functional mini-SUV that’s enjoyable to drive and quite dependable.”
—- CNN Money.

“The Escape Hybrid delivers a unique combination of hybrid fuel efficiency, SUV utility and a sort of rugged and refined style that’s appropriate for both downtowns and campgrounds.”
—- Kelley Blue Book.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“It’s difficult to combine rugged versatility with an impressive carbon footprint, and it’s hard to have a family vehicle with classy styling. The Ford Escape isn’t perfect, but it’s a good choice for a lot of user groups without much compromise.

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