OK, let me explain.
When I reviewed the 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid, I complained that, at slow speeds, the electric motor emitted a sound that was a spot-on imitation of a siren approaching from perhaps a quarter-mile away. Needless to say, on city streets, this kept my heart rate at fairly lofty levels.
After a week in the 2010 Escape Hybrid, the limited edition with front-wheel drive, there were no sounds of sirens. And frankly, I liked this green Escape much more than I did the 2007 version. Call it progress.
My ride all but shouted green, not only in the environmental sense but in the literal sense; a “Kiwi Green” metallic paint job backed by a special leafy hybrid badge did the trick.
My Escape Hybrid, the third most-expensive of four trim levels starting at $32,260, was only slightly juiced up with options (the biggest being a $2,395 voice-activated navigation system) to bring the bottom line to $35,775. But for my money, which hasn’t been going too far in this sagging economy, that’s a fairly hefty bottom line for most consumers looking for a small SUV.
Again, with the Escape, it helps to do the math. You’re paying more than 30-grand for hybrid technology that’s going to save you at the gas pump. In the tester, that equated to 34 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. If you plan to keep the vehicle for a long time, the extra money you paid for the vehicle is going to come back to you a piece at a time. Over the long haul, you’ll likely do OK. And if your priority is protecting the planet, you’re probably not real worried about such fiscal matters.
But keep in mind that a gas-powered 2010 Ford Escape XLS with front-wheel drive starts at a mere $20,550, with fuel mileage ratings of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the open road. Like I said, get out your calculator and do the math if the budget is your top priority.
If you opt for the Escape Hybrid, you'll get that moment of concern when you turn the ignition key and nothing happens. Just make sure you look down at the message center behind the steering wheel, where you’ll see a digital readout telling you the vehicle is indeed ready to drive.
From there, the 2010 Escape Hybrid is a breeze, a willing and fuel-efficient SUV capable of taking on all road conditions, while hauling five passengers in relative comfort, or hauling a fair amount of cargo if you wish.
It’s a hybrid, but it’s no wimp. The tester displayed plenty of zip in the merge lane and snapped up to 70 miles per hour with no problem. Cruising at 70 mph felt silky smooth, and quiet.
Even climbing hills, you’re not going to find yourself screaming at the vehicle, “C’mon and get going already!” … Well, you might get antsy at the top of a very steep climb, but you’re going to get that in a gas-fueled four-banger anyway, so lighten up.
Serious highlight: Terrific 360-degree vision from the cockpit seat. And there’s a bonus: A new “integrated spotter mirror” on the outer corner of the exterior mirror. This supplement gives you a convex view that all but takes away the customary “blind spot.” In truth, I can’t remember the last time I drove a vehicle where I spent less time turning my head.
A generously equipped, easily understood interior adds to the total package, along with a similarly generous safety and security package. This Escape Hybrid stacks up as an ideal second family car to do some heavy grocery hauling and kid transporting. Young families should like it as well as a primary vehicle.
It’s not a big, horsepower-laden SUV, so don’t even go there. While the bottom line is somewhat pricey, this Escape Hybrid is precisely the kind of vehicle Ford should be producing for the increasingly economical masses. Maybe that’s why the company’s bottom line has been doing so well of late.