2011 Escape Hybrid New Car Test Drive
The Ford Escape looks like a little truck among small SUVs. Its styling reminds us of Ford's larger, truck-based sport utility vehicles. The Escape's ride height and seating position are a bit higher than competitors such as the Honda CR-V, and it can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is substantially more than most other vehicles in the class.
Yet the Ford Escape still delivers the advantages of unit-body, car-based competitors such as the Honda CR-V. Its smooth ride and agile handling make for enjoyable driving, and its compact dimensions make the Escape easy to park.
The standard four-cylinder engine is adequate for all-purpose driving while the V6 offers quicker acceleration performance. All variants, including the V6 and Escape Hybrid, deliver some of the best EPA mileage ratings in the class. All models are offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
For the most part, the Hybrid drives just like a conventional gas-only Escape. It's a well-executed package. It offers better fuel economy and lower emissions but demands little additional effort or knowledge from the driver.
The Escape provides comfortable seating for four, or five in a pinch. Folding the rear seats opens a good sized cargo area with a flat floor, and space behind the seat surpasses that in the trunk of a typical sedan. There are lots of interior storage spaces, the finish is upscale and pleasing, and feature function and switches are among the best.
Escape was redesigned for 2008. For 2010, changes are minor. An Integrated Blind Spot Mirror, MyKey programmable vehicle key, Rear View Camera System, and Active Park Assist are now available, and the Escape also features hands-free SYNC with Traffic, Directions & Information. All the features improve safety and reduce driver distractions.
The Ford Escape remains one of the more appealing vehicles in its class, regardless of price, and certainly one of the better values. Those shopping for a small SUV should put it on their short list, especially those who appreciate its big-truck styling.
The five-passenger Ford Escape is offered with front-wheel drive or fulltime all-wheel drive, and either a four-cylinder, V6, or gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain. The four trim levels are distinguished by engine and standard features.
The Escape XLS ($20,515) and XLS 4WD ($22,265) are powered by a 171-hp 2.5-liter inline four that generates 171 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic ($1,210) is optional. The XLS comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and locks, an AM/FM stereo with CD and auxiliary jack, rear window defroster and 16-inch steel wheels.
Options for the XLS include remote start ($345), SYNC ($395), side step bars ($345), and a security system ($250).
The Escape XLT ($23,540) and XLT 4WD ($25,290) add more standard features, including upgraded cloth upholstery, a power driver's seat, cruise control, privacy glass and 16-inch alloy wheels. A 240-hp, dual overhead cam 3.0-liter V6 ($1,000) is optional on the XLT, and includes the six-speed automatic.
Options for the XLT include a variety of packages, with the most comprehensive, Package 204A ($2,230), including a cargo cover, roof rack, wet towel bin, SYNC, a moonroof, leather, and ambient lighting. There is also Premium sound with seven speakers ($395), a dual-headrest DVD entertainment system ($1,995), Sport Appearance Package ($895), 17-inch alloy wheels ($695), and towing ($345).
The Escape Limited ($25,270) and Limited 4WD ($27,020) come standard with the V6 and automatic, plus leather seating, a six-CD changer and automatic headlights.
Options for the Limited include Package 302A ($2,250), consisting of the moonroof, Premium audio system, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, reverse-sensing system, rear-view camera, and universal garage-door opener; and navigation with the Premium sound ($1,995).
The Escape Hybrid is available in two trim levels, the base version ($29,750) and the base with 4WD ($31,500); and the Hybrid Limited ($32,260) and Hybrid Limited 4WD ($34,010). The Hybrid Limited versions are equipped similarly to the Limited models, but add the hybrid powertrain. This so-called full hybrid features a more fuel efficient, 153-hp Atkinson Cycle version of the four-cylinder engine and a 70 kilowatt electric motor. Unlike some mild hybrid SUVs, the Escape Hybrid can run on 100 percent electric power up to about 25 mph.
Safety features include front- and side-impact airbags for front occupants and curtain-type head protection airbags for all outboard seats. The side curtains can remain inflated for several seconds in the event of a rollover, and are designed to slide between the side glass and occupants if the people are oddly seated or resting heads against a window. Active safety systems include four-channel antilock brakes (ABS), and AdvanceTrac electronic stability control with Roll Stability Control (RSC), which adds a second gyroscopic roll-rate sensor to the typical stability control package, measuring the Escape's roll angle and roll rate and applying countermeasures (such as braking one of the wheels or reducing power) to increase rollover resistance.