Mazda's not the only one with a hybrid SUV at the Detroit Auto Show this week. Ford has brought along their 2008 Escape SUV, which is available with three powertrains: the standard 2.3-liter I-4, or an optional 3.0-liter V-6 and, thankfully, a full hybrid gas-electric version (Sanyo makes the batteries for the Escape hybrids). To eliminate complaints about the transition between all-electric and gasoline power, Ford engineers updated the control system software and it should now be "seamless and virtually imperceptible to the driver."

Ford also says the new Escape was designed to be quieter and an easier ride than previous models. Big surprise. Where's the press release that says the engineers decided against upgrading something like a vehicle's comfort? "Nah, we'll just leave all that alone. People bought the last one, they'll buy this one."

Anyway. We know that Hybrids Plus, Inc. is making plug-in variants of current escape models. Image if Ford had announced a PHEV concept of the Escape this week. Instead, they're going to let GM bask alone in the eco-glory for a while.

Click on the image above or the thumbnails below to see a high-resolution (1,280 pixel wide) images of the 2008 Escape. As always, AutoblogGreen gallery images are downloadable for your personal use.

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[Source: Ford]
2008 FORD ESCAPE COMBINES BOLD LOOKS WITH A QUIET RIDE AND TOUGH SUV CAPABILITY

DETROIT, Mich., Jan 7, 2007 – The new Ford Escape and Escape Hybrid have a new look inside and out for 2008. An important part of Ford's commitment to deliver the new products that people want, the new vehicles are scheduled to be in dealer showrooms in the first quarter of 2007.

Customers are currently trending toward smaller SUVs and crossovers, making the 2008 Escape the right vehicle at the right time. It blends crossover construction with traditional SUV styling and capability. The result is an enticing small SUV and an excellent value.

In the years following its 2001 introduction, Escape has been a great market success. More than one million have been sold – a record for small SUVs or crossovers.

In upgrading Escape, Ford engineers focused on specific customer wants and needs. The interior, for example, has been redesigned with more upscale appointments, innovative storage options and improved comfort. Must-have convenience features including a touch screen navigation system, SIRIUS® satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack are now available.

Engineers made a host of changes to make the interior quiet and more refined. Compared with the previous model, the 2008 Escape is 15 percent quieter on the highway.

Meanwhile, the exterior's reshaping gives it a tougher stance, with a raised beltline and modern profile with just the right proportion of sheet metal to glass. The overall appearance, from grille to tail, has been honed to bring Escape in line with other members of the Ford Tough Truck family, such as Expedition and Explorer.

Under its skin, the new Escape has one of the most advanced safety packages in the segment. Escape comes standard with Safety CanopyTM side air curtains and side-impact air bags in the front seats to protect the torso of the driver and passenger. Non-hybrid models come standard with AdvanceTrac® with RSC®, Ford's exclusive Roll Stability Control.

Three powertrains are available – a standard 2.3-liter I-4, an optional 3.0-liter V-6 and a full hybrid electric version. For 2008, Escape Hybrid engineers updated the software in the control system to improve the transition between gasoline and electric operation. The transition from all-electric to gasoline power to a combination of the two is now even more seamless and virtually imperceptible to the driver.

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures and distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With about 300,000 employees and more than 100 plants worldwide, the company's core and affiliated automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.fordvehicles.com.

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