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2009 Ford Escape Hybrid Review

A Fuel-Sipping SUV

A three-quarter front view of a light blue 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

In short: Efficiency for those unwilling to give up SUVs.

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.

A view of the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid's engine and navigation screen, which displays local gas prices

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.

A three-quarter front view of a light green 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

Read a review of the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD
and the 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid FWD

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.

Base Price: $30,635 / As tested: $33,385

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 5-door crossover

Engine: 2.5-liter, 16-valve Atkinson cycle DOHC Duratec with a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor
Horsepower: 153 hp @ 6,000 rpm (gas); 94 hp @ 5,000 rpm (electric)
Torque: 136 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT)

Curb weight: 3,669 lbs
Wheelbase: 103.1 in
Length/Width/Height: 174.7/71.1/67.8 in
Turning circle: 36.7 ft

Brakes: vented disc in front; drum in rear; all-wheel power with standard 4-sensor, 4-channel ABS and integrated regenerative braking
independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar in front; independent with lateral links, trailing arm design and stabilizer bar in rear

Traction: AdvanceTrac® traction control with RSC® (roll stability control)

0-60 mph:
Top Speed: n/a

EPA City: 34 mpg
EPA Highway: 31 mpg

Safety: AdvanceTrac® with RSC®, side curtain airbag system for the first and second seating rows, dual-stage front airbags for the front seats, side airbags, front passenger sensor system, tire pressure monitoring system

Likes: efficiency and cargo space in a well-designed sport ute

Dislikes: high demand might keep prices close to M.S.R.P.

Check out other Ford models
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Text and photography: Basem Wasef

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