The first day with the Ford Escape was an interesting one. Normally when I get a vehicle, I do not get much seat time for the first day. Well, this time we made a 5 hour trek after getting the Escape. While the driving experience was valuable, it was almost all highway time. There were periods where traffic slowed to a halt and I received more of a 'city' driving experience. Regardless, the driving experience up front leaves me little room to discuss the exterior, which I will save for another day.
At first, I expected the Escape to be a little on the ?soft? side. I found the Escape to be better damped than I originally anticipated. In fact, on the road it felt sure footed and stable. Ride quality was decent, especially for an SUV. The Escape is a crossover, however, and its Ford Mondeo/Contour heritage gives it very car-like ride and handling. It was a pleasant surprise to find that it is not totally incompetent as far as driving dynamics are concerned.
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This particular Escape was a FWD model. The power delivery is a little slow off the line, but once the Escape reaches speed the power level was more than acceptable. Not once did I feel like I had actually given up anything for the terrific gas mileage the Escape gets. I averaged 31.2 miles per gallon on the entire trip, which is excellent for a vehicle of this size. The real-world gas mileage was very close to the EPA sticker, which was surprising considering the Toyota products delivery gas mileage that is significantly below the EPA sticker. After today, I am suspecting there is some kind of foul play here. For instance, the Lexus and Toyota SUV hybrids are rated at 33 city/28 highway and 31 city/27 highway by the EPA. In rear world driving, they provide fuel economy in the mid to low-twenties. Similar discrepancies have been seen in the Prius as well. It seems so far, that Ford is delivering on the promise of hybrids, the power of a larger engine with the fuel economy of a smaller one.
Tomorrow I will discuss the drivetrain in more depth, once I get the opportunity to test the hybrid system out in a wider range of situations. I originally wondered why Ford chose the Escape as its first hybrid platform. It is starting to make more sense. The Escape is probably the only model in their lineup which could accommodate the hybrid powertrain up front while still being light enough to benefit from it. I also did a short video clip (requires Quicktime) of the interior, it?s not the best quality but you get up close and personal with the dash.