Honestly, I was disappointed by this Escape's 30 city/27 highway fuel economy rating. Compared to the front-wheel drive Escape Hybrid, this four-wheel drive vehicle takes a 4-mpg hit in both city and highway driving. What gives? Most vehicles today deal only a 1- or 2-mpg subtraction for the addition of all-wheel drive. With the price hike and substantial fuel economy hit, I would personally rather live with the front-wheel drive Escape Hybrid.
With EPA 34 mpg city and 31 highway, that front-wheel drive Escape Hybrid certainly stands out with phenomenal fuel economy. The hybrid powertrain provides seamless transitions between electric and gasoline modes and respectable acceleration when you want it. The continuously variable transmission will likely be the most noticeable change for drivers coming from conventional automatics. Particularly in this Escape Hybrid, the CVT provokes the engine to moan quite loudly during part-throttle acceleration when the revs are in the 2000 to 3000 rpm range.
Visibility is excellent and the ride height is good for peering over traffic. Rear seat room, however, isn't quite as cavernous as a Chevrolet Equinox, and Ford's simple interior styling doesn't have the panache of the Chevy. I was also frustrated by rear seats that don't fold flat unless you first move the seat bottom cushions. Furthermore, the gigantic rear headrests also mean you'll likely have to remove them prior to folding the seats. A little Honda Fit ingenuity would be much appreciated here.
There are plenty of things I'd love to see corrected with this Ford Escape Hybrid, but in all it provides a comfortable atmosphere and impressive technology. Of course, what I'd really like to see is the latest generation hybrid hardware and software pulled over from the Fusion Hybrid mid-size sedan. That technology seems more much willing to run in pure electric mode when pulling away from a stop, and especially when rolling down a city street at speed. With the Fusion Hybrid rated at 41/36 mpg, I'm sure Ford could get the Escape to push 37 mpg in the city and grab a couple more mpg on the highway.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor