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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Nov 22, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE GREAT ESCAPE By Gordon Bleam Ford has had many versions of the Escape - some better than others. This 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid has a wonderful mix of necessary technology to provide the driver with the one feature we buy hybrids for - i.e, mileage.

EPA mpg (miles per gallon) ratings are a good gauge for comparison, but they have traditionally lagged behind real world mileage. With the 2008 Escape Hybrid, I not only achieved the EPA mpg ratings but surpassed it. Ford Escape Hybrid's EPA fuel economy is 34 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel drive version, and 29 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for the four-wheel drive model. In real life driving (with 4 adults, one 75-pound dog and gear), I managed to obtain the following: 42 mpg steady driving holding 48 mph 39 mpg steady driving holding 55 mph 37 mpg steady driving holding 65 mph 29 mpg steady driving holding 85 mph 32 mpg city driving on level surfaces driving cautiously 29 mpg city driving on rolling hills with normal driving 24 mpg city driving on rolling hills with very aggressive driving

That is truly some outstanding mileage for an SUV! This is not to say that the Escape Hybrid is the ultimate small SUV. The Escape is not a luxury vehicle and the power of this hybrid version just sufficient for normal driving. It certainly does not have the luxuriousness of the hybrid Lexus RX-400h. The Lexus RX-400h is overpowered and comfort is everywhere but you will get only 22 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. Or if you are looking for an ultimate hybrid that is the definition of luxury, there is the Lexus LS-600h ($104,765 for the 'stripped' model). Consumers interested in a hybrid are looking for different payoffs. Some want to reduce their carbon foot print, some want to use less fuel, while others want to look good to the neighbors. The Ford Escape Hybrid is sparse on amenities but has a great base price of $25,265. When driving the Ford Escape Hybrid you will notice the ample headroom and comfortable seating posture, and if you accelerate cautiously you can stay in electric-only mode easily up to 30 mph. Above 30 mph, Ford decided the gasoline engine will always run and this is not as efficient as it could be. For example, if you find yourself coasting down a hill above 30 mph, there is no reason for the engine to be consuming fuel. This is the only programming deficiency I was able to find while driving for seven days and 847 miles. On the other hand, this is the only hybrid I found that was this easy to keep in electric-only mode. Most demand such a restricted use of the accelerator that to keep them in electric-only mode you would drive like the proverbial little old lady from Pasadena.

The Ford Escape Hybrid under test is equipped with an 110V A/C power outlet and the navigation system with the upgraded radio. The radio is sufficient but not extraordinary and the navigation (Ford's fourth generation) needs updating. The navigation included with the 2008 model is easy to use for novices if they are just trying to get driving direction from address-to-address. If you want to use the POI (point of interest) feature, the user interface is not intuitive. The main problem with the navigation system is the screen size and its resolution. Keep in mind this has been Ford's NAV system for many years and technology has moved forwards since its inception. There is room for four adults for a long trip with cowboy hat headroom - both for the front and rear passengers. With dual climate controls and heated seats in the front, everyone can have the needed temperature control to assure a comfortable trip. The air conditioning compressor is still tied to the gasoline engine, so in the summer when you stop at a stop sign, the A/C starts to blow warmer air. In the 2005-2007 this was a huge issue here in Southern California, but in the 2008 model they engineered a change because the air takes much longer to warm up. If you have the air conditioner set on maximum, the engine continues to run whenever the air is required. This wastes fuel, but keeps the interior temperature at its coldest. With the increased insulation, I do not believe you will find it necessary to waste the fuel. In the end, the first hybrid designed and engineered to get great mileage is even better for 2008. And it provides lots of interior room to boot.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT The greatest Escape of them all yields - by a considerable margin - the best fuel economy you can get from an SUV. For more information about Ford products, see

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid FWD Price: Base $25.075, as tested $28,810 Model options include:, ECVT Automatic Transmission, 110V AC Power Outlet, Chrome Appearance Package, Audiophile & Navigation System Engine type: 2.3-liter in-line four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine and electric motor Electric Motor: Motor type - Permanent Magnet AC synchronous motor Battery 330-volt Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) Power (rpm) 94 hp (70 kW) @ 5,000 rpm Engine electronics: Electronic engine controls Horsepower (SAE net@rpm): 133 @ 6000 rpm Torque (lb.-ft.@rpm): 124 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm Fuel recommended: Regular unleaded EPA mileage estimates Fuel economy: FWD - 34 mpg city/30 mpg highway 4WD - 29 mpg city/27 mpg highway Transmission type: Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Drive configuration: Front engine / front wheel drive Front engine / all wheel drive Front suspension: Independent MacPherson struts, lower control arms, coil springs and stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Multi-link suspension with lateral links and trailing arms design Brakes: Standard power 4-wheel disc anti-lock brakes (and Regenerative Braking System for charging nichel-metal hydride-battery) Steering: Electric Power Steering (EPS) Fuel Tank Capacity: 15 gallons Wheels and tires: 16" cast-aluminum wheels P235/70R16 all-season BSW tires Wheelbase (in.): 103.1 Length (in.): 174.7 Vehicle Height without options (in.): 67.7 Vehicle Width excluding mirrors (in.): 71.1 Vehicle Width including mirrors: 81.3 Vehicle Width mirrors folded: 77.9 Track- front/rear (in.): 61.1/60.4 Minimum Running Ground Clearance (in.): 8.6 Not recommended for towing Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty** 8-year/100,000-mile Hybrid Limited Warranty** *10-year/150,000-mile Hybrid Battery Limited Warranty in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont. See dealer for details

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