Ford Escape

Ford Escape – The First Hybrid Sport Utility

Built in Kansas City, Missouri, the Ford Escape Hybrid was originally released in 2004, making it the first hybrid SUV available to U.S. consumers. The green Escape used hybrid-electric technology similar to what Toyota developed for the Prius. Ford engineers soon realized there could be an issue with patents held by Toyota, which led to a patent-sharing agreement between the two auto makers. This accord allowed Ford to use some of Toyota’s hybrid technology in exchange for Toyota borrowing some of Ford’s diesel and direct-injection engine technology and secrets. This was truly an exciting time for the hybrid vehicle industry.

Ford Escape SUV (Hybrid)

The Escape Hybrid’s Popularity Grows Quickly

The introduction of the Escape Hybrid led to Ford getting a lot of praise for its environmental consciousness and their recognition of consumers’ need to save money on fuel. Soon after the release of the Escape Hybrid many other major automakers began releasing their own models of hybrid SUVs, including the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. However, Ford was able to hang on to their leading position when the Escape Hybrid was named to the list of top ten fuel efficient vehicles in 2008. It was also included on a list of the bestselling models alongside the Toyota Prius and the Corolla. The smallish Ford Escape Hybrid SUV had truly established a foothold in the green car movement.

Ford built 17,000 Escape Hybrids in the second half of 2004 – four times as many as they had originally planned to build. Beginning in 2005 many cities around the world, including New York City, began using Ford Escape Hybrids as taxicabs. The vehicle went on to win the coveted North American Truck of the Year award in 2005 and so the legacy was created.

In 2012, Ford made the decision to stop building the Escape as a hybrid sport utility vehicle. Instead, they began using an EcoBoost technology, gas engine. This ended the run of over 120,000 hybrid Escapes being sold, and ushered in a new era for the Escape CUV. Used Ford Escape hybrids remain a very popular pre-owned SUV option as a result of their high MPG ratings and used car price.

The Basics of the Fuel Efficient Engine

The Escape Hybrid is a full hybrid, meaning that the system can switch between pure electric power, pure gasoline power, or a combination of electric battery and gasoline engine power automatically. The combination of the two provides maximum performance and efficiency at all speeds and loads. When the driver is breaking or decelerating, the hybrid system uses regenerative braking. This means that during these times the electric drive motor works as a generator that converts the vehicles momentum back into electricity to store in the batteries.

Ford Escape Interior (non hybrid)

The Ford Escape Hybrid is about 75 percent more fuel-efficient than the regular Escape, according to EPA testing. It is estimated to get between 33 and 36 miles per gallon in the city and between 29 and 31 miles per gallon on the highway. The owner’s manual does state that in order to attain these mileage estimates that pure gasoline, not ethanol blends, must be used. The 133 horsepower gasoline straight-4 engine and the 94 horsepower electric motor combine to give the Escape Hybrid a performance similar to that of the 200 horsepower V6 engines commonly used in the regular Escape because the electric motor’s torque is available from zero rpm.

With gentle acceleration, the Escape Hybrid can accelerate up to about 30 mph on pure electric power. A maximum distance of 1.5-1.8 miles can be driven on electric power before the batteries will disengage and the gasoline will kick in. The Escape Hybrid can get up to a top speed of 102 miles per hour.

The First Generation Ford Escape Hybrid

At the time of its release, most sport utility vehicles used a truck-based, body-on-frame design. Solid rear axles were used most commonly because they had the ability to carry heavy loads, however, the higher load capacity came at the expense of good handling and a comfortable ride. Engineers at Ford came to the realization that most SUV owners did not take their vehicle off road, so they decided to use a car-like, monocoque design that offered rack and pinion steering and independent suspension.

Although they were not meant for severe off road driving, a full-time all-wheel-drive system that included a locking center differential, which could be activated by a switch on the dashboard, was an option. The AWD system normally sends most of the power to the front wheels, but if slipping is detected in the front it will send more power to the rear wheels.

The standard equipment on the first generation Escape Hybrid includes dual-zone air conditioning, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, a six-CD stereo, power door locks with remote keyless entry, cruise control, power windows, and 16-inch alloy wheels. There was also a “Special Appearance Package” that was available on the 2005-2007 Hybrid models which replaced the traditional lower cladding on the vehicle with a silver finish.

All Escapes are also equipped with a feature called SecuriLock. This includes an RFID chip that is embedded in the key and read by the vehicle every time the car is started. If the vehicle does not receive a valid confirmation signal from the key it will not run. Because of this feature theft losses reported to insurance companies for the Escape are among the lowest of its class.

The Second Generation Escape Hybrid is Unveiled

The second generation Ford Escape Hybrid, released in 2008 for the 2009 model year, got a style makeover. The new model had some major cosmetic updates including a new grille, bumpers, and headlights and taillights. The drivetrain of the vehicle stayed the same except for the extensive software updates.

A larger, more powerful engine was included along with a revised suspension, the addition of stability control, a capless fuel filler system, and the debut of the “Sync” voice-control system. The batteries and other added updates added about 300 pounds to the vehicle. Many critics said this added weight caused an unfavorable effect in handling. Likewise, from 2009 on, the rear disk brakes were switched for drum brakes, which many in the industry thought was a strange step backwards.

This generation of Escape Hybrid was offered in two specification levels, the base model and the more expensive “Limited” model. The base model included AdvanceTrac with roll stability control, a 60/40 split-fold rear bench seat, and a single-disc four-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with Sirius Satellite Radio compatibility. The “Limited” version added a chrome front grille, a six-way power driver’s seat, full leather upholstery, heated front seats, ambient lighting, rear park assist, and 16-inch six-spoke alloy wheels.

Ford Discontinues the Escape Hybrid

In early 2012 Ford discontinued the production of the Escape Hybrid because they were introducing the third generation Escape with their all new EcoBoost technology. According to Ford, the engine combines advanced direct injection technology and turbocharging with a gasoline engine. The end result is an engine that delivers 15 percent lower CO2 emissions, 20 percent better fuel economy, and improved driving performance.

Escape Rear Hatch

The new Escapes are powered by a four-cylinder engine. There are two available EcoBoost options the 2.0-liter EcoBoost, which delivers plenty of power, and the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine that offers a mix of power and fuel economy. Standard on all models is the six-speed automatic transmission. The 1.6-liter engine is estimated to get 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The 2.0-liter engine gets just slightly less than the 1.6-liter.

Read previous reviews of the Ford Escape hybrid here.

The official Ford Escape website can be found here and updated information on the 2017 Ford Escape Hybrid here.

More Hybrid SUVs:

Hybrid Ford Escape
Hybrid Toyota Highlander
Hybrid Lexus RX 400h
Hybrid ML450



XV Crosstrek

NX 300h
CT 200h
Hybrid Mercury Mariner
Hybrid Mazda Tribute
Hybrid Saturn Vue