2010 Ford Escape Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery The Ford Escape Hybrid was the first mass-produced battery-assisted SUV on the market when it launched in 2004, and from day one it's delivered on Ford's promise of class-leading economy. It also offered similar performance and handling to its gas-powered counterparts with virtually no compromise. Sales have steadily risen each year and The Blue Oval even began eeking out some profit after trimming production costs by 30 percent. It's now seven years later and the Ford Escape Hybrid is a well established product that seems to have risen above the hoopla of being a hybrid. It's just a good CUV with great fuel economy. Even the president thinks so, having traded in his V8-powered Chrysler 300C for an Escape Hybrid during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election. Ford gave the entire Escape line a visual makeover back in 2008. A year later it revamped each model's drivetrain, giving the gas-powered models new or updated engines and transmissions while also upgrading the Escape Hybrid's powertrain with a larger, more powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and new nickel metal hydride battery pack that was 20-percent smaller and significantly lighter. But for some reason, all of those changes haven't translated into increased sales. In fact, sales have dropped each year since the redesign. A certain global financial meltdown is probably to blame, but newer entries in the small CUV segment have also given potential Escape buyers something to think about. We spent a week with a fully loaded 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Limited 4WD model to find out if Ford's top-of-the-line hybrid CUV is still a serious contender. %Gallery-92714% Photos by Chris Shunk/ Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc. When the Ford Escape was first launched back in 2001, rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame sport utility vehicles ruled the roost. So the Escape, which rides on a unibody front-wheel-drive platform, was designed to closely resemble the traditional two-box SUV. Ford designers did find a way to give the Escape some manner of style, with rounded lines and some relatively tasteful lower body cladding, but the Escape has never been a head-turner. The current Escape doesn't look all that different from the very first model, save for being slightly bigger and wearing edgier sheetmetal. The front grille was given a very healthy dose of chrome that, quite frankly, is a bit over the top for our tastes, though we do like the much cleaner aesthetic of the Escape's hind quarters and the new-look taillights bring some extra class to the small crossover equation. The only visual cues that our Steel Blue Metallic tester is of the hybrid variety is a small badge above the rear bumper and a pair of badges on the front doors and front quarter panel. Not exactly Toyota Prius levels of hybrid awareness, which is exactly the point. The Escape is like a good mullett on the inside, with the tactile-but-hard plastics on the dash representing the "business up front" and the comfy …
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|Power||171 @ 6000 rpm|
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