Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: 2008 Ford Escape hybrid

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,741

    2008 Ford Escape hybrid

    Hybrid pick-ups and SUVs are still pretty rare; "full" hybrids that can actually be driven on pure battery power alone -- vs. "mild" hybrids that just shut off the gas engine when the vehicle isn't moving -- rarer still.

    The Ford Escape hybrid is one of them.

    It's also substantially revised for the '08 model run.

    The front end has been completely redone; it's now very Expedition-like (and much less Freestyle-like) with a larger (and chrome-plated) grille/bumper section replacing the body-colored (and smaller-grilled) molded plastic treatment used previously. The bumper's center section extends down and underneath the front end -- giving the appearance of an integrated skid plate -- while just above the bumper, the hood's lip rises almost vertically for an inch or so, then cuts back at an almost 90-degree angle. Larger headlamp assemblies with integrated turn and parking signals, projector-style fog lamps cut into the lower bumper -- and a black-out treatment for the B-pillar -- complete the manly makeover on the outside.

    Inside, there's a new dash layout that's similarly squared-off (vs. the softer, rounded shapes used previously) with a more substantial looking center stack off to the right that houses an information center/LCD screen on top and audio/ optional GPS screen down below that.

    Between the seats, there's a much more useful "deep well," multi-tiered center console with removable storage trays and combo cupholders.

    All gauges and controls get "ice blue" LED-style backlighting -- a nice touch -- while the interior fabrics are made from recycled "post-industrial materials" that Ford says helps to conserve 600,000 gallons of water and seven million kilowatts of electricity that would otherwise have been used to produce seat covers from "virgin" materials.

    These cosmetic changes run across the board; both standard Escapes and hybrid models get the exterior and interior facelift.

    But hybrid versions of the '08 Escape get some notable functional tweaks, too -- including revised software governing the operation of the gas-electric powertrain that's designed to make the transitions between all-electric operation and tandem gas-electric operation more imperceptible and "transparent" than before. The previous Escape hybrid was not terrible in this respect by any means; but the '08 model's noticeably better -- because you hardly notice the hybrid powertrain at all.

    When driving on the batteries -- which you can do up to about 25 mph or so -- your main clue about the absence of internal combustion is the tach needle, which dips into the green zone to the left of the scale until either your speed or driving conditions tell the computer to start up the 2.3 liter gas engine for additional power. The gas engine will also sometimes "cycle on" when you're not moving -- to run the AC, for example. Or to to keep the battery pack at optimal charge. But again, your main indication that any of this is happening is the tach readout. There's virtually no lag time -- even when you floor it from a standstill and the system has to quickly switch the gas engine on to meet your urgent need for speed. Similarly, the gas engine goes "dark" so discretely you'll often not even realize it's turned itself off -- and find yourself creeping along on just the batteries, marveling at the great job Ford did with the exhaust tuning.

    In addition to the revised software programming for the hybrid powertrain, the '08 Escape (again, all models -- not just hybrids) gets thicker carpeting, an acoustically laminated windshield and recessed channels molded into the roof to improve airflow over the vehicle at speed and further quiet things down. Ford claims a none-too-shabby 12 percent reduction in cabin noise at 80 mph -- and a 20 percent reduction in high velocity crosswinds -- compared with the '07 Escape.

    Steering is now electric-assist, too -- eliminating both the noise and the efficiency losses of an engine-driven hydraulic power steering pump.

    Together, the Escape hybrid's 2.3 liter gas engine (133 horsepower) and 70 kilowatt AC electric motor and 330 volt battery pack deliver power/performance comparable to the gas-only V-6 hybrid in every area except max tow ratings (here the hybrid's only good for 1,000 lbs. vs. up to 3,500 lbs. for the V-6 gas version) while boosting city fuel economy potential by as much as 75 percent.

    At the time of this writing, official EPA figures for the '08 Escape hybrid were not available -- but Ford claims mid-high 30s in city driving and high 20s-low 30s on the highway. For comparison, the V-6 Escape (2007 model) with FWD is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 24 mpg on the highway. With the added weight of the optional AWD system, the figures drop to 19 mpg city, 23 mpg on the highway.

    So the hybrid Escape spots the V-6 Escape about 10 mpg, both ways.

    But is that gain worth the appx. $3k price difference between the least expensive version of the '08 Escape hybrid ($25,075 with FWD) and the least expensive version of the gas-burning, V-6 Escape ($21,880 for the XLT w/FWD)?

    The answer depends on how much driving you do annually, how long you plan to keep the vehicle -- and ultimately, what the per-gallon cost of gas will be over that time period. Maybe you'll save some green; then again, maybe not. If gas prices float to $4 or $5 per, it could be the smartest thing you've done since ditching that iffy ARM mortgage for a sweet deal on a fixed interest rate, 30-year note. On the other hand, if gas prices stay around $2.25 or so for the next five years, you probably won't save a lot of cash -- unless you drive more than 12,000 miles annually.

    You'll have to work the numbers for yourself, based on your specific situation.

    But regardless, you will definitely have the satisfaction of driving a "green" vehicle that not only uses less fuel, it pollutes a lot less, too. Full hybrids like the Escape produce just fractionally more emissions overall than a "zero emissions" electric car -- and that's one aspect of performance a conventional, gas-only vehicle can't match.

    As far as the rest:

    The cosmetic re-do of the exterior and interior are hard to fault. While the '07 and earlier Escape was not an ugly or strange-looking vehicle -- it was a little on the vanilla side. In fact, it looked so much like its corporate cousin, the Freestyle wagon, that it was easy to mistake one for the other -- and lose them both in the shuffle. By giving the '08 version a shot of testosterone (though hopefully not so much that it will alienate female buyers) Ford has made the new Escape more distinctive, not only relative to other Fords -- but also relative to several immediate competitors.

    That can't hurt.

    Being one of the few "real deal" hybrid SUVs on the market that does more than shut off its gas engine at red lights isn't a handicap, either.

    That the whole package is both reasonably priced and well-equipped should bode well for the '08 Escape -- and for Ford.

    END

  2. #2
    Staff
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    3,126

    Re: 2008 Ford Escape hybrid

    Driving an Escape sounds as satifsfying as operating an electric can opener. Hybrids are overhyped in terms of fuel efficiency and the tax breaks for them should be eliminated in favor of a tax based on actual real world fuel consumption. For instance if your car is rated 40 mpg, you get a break. If it doesn't you don't. I don't care if the car is powered by solar panels, if it doesn't get the mileage, then no tax credit.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,741

    Re: 2008 Ford Escape hybrid

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    Driving an Escape sounds as satifsfying as operating an electric can opener. Hybrids are overhyped in terms of fuel efficiency and the tax breaks for them should be eliminated in favor of a tax based on actual real world fuel consumption. For instance if your car is rated 40 mpg, you get a break. If it doesn't you don't. I don't care if the car is powered by solar panels, if it doesn't get the mileage, then no tax credit.
    Well, bear in mind that some folks aren't enthusiast drivers like we are!

    As far as over-hyped:

    Yes and no. With cars, I agree. One could save gas just as easily by purchasing a very fuel-efficient car (or an older car - and use the savings "up front" to pay for fuel down the road).

    But with SUVs like the Escape hybrid, there's an appeal to room/capability - and 35 mpg.

Similar Threads

  1. rear glass popper on Ford Escape
    By bikerlbf406 in forum Car Care & Repair
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 12-26-2011, 03:48 AM
  2. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-19-2011, 09:03 AM
  3. 2008 GMC Acadia - escape from minivan hell!
    By Eric in forum New Car/Truck Reviews
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-30-2007, 09:42 AM
  4. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 03-20-2007, 10:06 AM
  5. Ford launches '08 Escape/Mariner
    By Eric in forum New Car/Truck Reviews
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 01-28-2007, 08:22 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •