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According to the Associated Press, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is training its gaze on 2005-2012 Ford Escape. According to the report, the federal safety agency has opened a probe at the behest of the North Carolina Consumers Council, which petitioned for an investigation following a pair of complaints related to throttle issues.

Two of Ford's vehicles are moving well enough that the automaker is adding production to its plants in Missouri and Michigan. Ford says its F-150 and Ford Escape are looking to earn their highest sales of the year in August, with the F-Series truck line looking good for its first year-on-year sales jump since October 2006 and the Escape knocking on the door of its own sales record. Of course, August sales number are expected to be wildly inflated by the success of the government's Cash for Clunk

Click the 2009 Escape Hybrid for a high-res gallery

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When Ford launched the redesigned Escape and Mariner compact CUVs last year, the bodies and interiors were all new but the powertrains were largely carried over from the first-generation models. For the 2009 model year, that issue has been addressed with thorough upgrades to both four- and six-cylinder engines. We'll talk more about the engine upgrades next week after we drive them. In the meantime we got an early look at the new automatic transmission for the non-hybrid models. The previous fou

While many high-end autos are boasting seven or even eight gears in their transmissions, mainstream vehicles often are saddled with units including only half that many. The lack of mechanical gear ratios is rather detrimental to fuel economy, so we're happy to see that Ford is launching more six-speed units for both front- and rear-wheel-drive applications. The new 2009 F-150 will feature a six-speed, and considering the huge sales numbers of that vehicle, the 4 to 6 percent improvement in fuel

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