Ford enhances its hybrid SUV
For those who like their hybrid vehicles in a non-spaceship form, there’s the Ford Escape Hybrid. Introduced way back in 2004 when Kevin Federline was still wooing Britney Spears, the SUV has been substantially revised for 2008 with new exterior styling and interior appointments.
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Powered by an advanced drivetrain that provides both gasoline and electric motors, the Escape Hybrid is a “full” hybrid — meaning it can drive on electric power alone. The electric motor whizzes a strong 94 horsepower, making low-speed city driving easy on noise and the pocketbook.
In addition to the electric motor, the hybrid packs an efficient 133 horsepower four-cylinder engine, for when the vehicle’s speed increases. That said, the Escape Hybrid can drive on either gas, electric, or both motors combined. A high point with this particular drivetrain is that torque output from the electric motor varies on demand, meaning efficient stoplight-to-stoplight running. With both motors humming along, it offers acceleration comparable to the gasoline-engine V6 Escape.
The Escape Hybrid is offered in front- or all-wheel-drive, with both drivetrains controlled by a continuously-variable transmission (CVT). A CVT allows the vehicle to accelerate without shifting. This type of transmission is noted for its smoothness, which provides a zen-like calm for the morning commute. Also helping to squeeze the most from every litre of fuel is electric power steering.
There’s more green inside, in the form of eco-friendly seating fabric. Made from 100 per cent post-industrial waste fabrics and polyester fabrics, the seats are both durable and good for the environment. Leather is an option for those who want something a little more luxurious.
Much of the interior trim has been upgraded too. Highlights include a great three-tier centre console with two removable bins. The bins can be repositioned elsewhere inside the Escape, especially useful for children with small toys. When the bins are removed from the centre console, the space doubles as a hidden compartment, large enough for a laptop.
A navigation system is an available $2,700 option. An auxiliary audio jack is standard for iPod-loving drivers. Air conditioning, six airbags, anti-lock brakes, and power windows and locks complete the amenities.
Individual options include a chrome appearance package (chrome grille, body-colour door handles), premium package (heated seats, cargo cover, back-up sensor, roof rack, and compass), and the sunroof and satellite radio package.
2008 Ford Escape Hybrid