2009 Ford Escape Hybrid Review
A Fuel-Sipping SUV
Utility ain't what it used to be, especially since hulking SUVs have been dying a quick, painful death. With the spotlight on smaller, fuel efficient sport utes, Ford's Escape Hybrid has emerged as a more appealing option, especially since Escape's J.D. Powers "Things Gone Wrong" score is nine percent better than the venerable Toyota RAV4, and seven percent higher than the Honda CR-V, the best-selling SUV in America. Improvements for the 2009 Escape Hybrid include a new engine processor for less perceptible switching between gas and electric modes, a new damping system to smooth out drivetrain vibration, and a more refined braking system that offers improved feel. Also aiding the Escape Hybrid's raison d'être are low rolling resistance tires and slicker aerodynamics.
We spent an afternoon driving through Hollywood, Malibu and Beverly Hills, and were impressed with Ford's improvements in drivability and road manners. The suspension was compliant over large potholes (especially considering the platform's short wheelbase and relatively tall stature), and highway cruising offered a quiet, well-insulated ride. Though economy sometimes gets in the way of spirited stoplight acceleration, the Escape Hybrid's fuel economy rating of 34 city/31 highway makes it America's most efficient SUV—a notable distinction for drivers seeking a practical and spacious daily driver.
On top of its fuel-sipping nature, the Escape's interior is a well-laid-out space that offers options like SYNC, SIRIUS satellite radio, and Travel Link, which displays everything from weather maps and sports scores to nearby fuel prices on the navigation screen. Starting at just over $30,000, the Escape Hybrid should continue to inspire the rest of the compact SUV market to find that ideal balance between economy, practicality, and style.
Warranty/Service: 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty; 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty; 8-year/100,000-mile hybrid-specific component warranty.
Text and photography: Basem Wasef