2009 Ford Escape Hybrid
Enjoy the planet
Rarely can “SUV,” “clean air,” and “good gas mileage” be used in the same sentence. One of the few exceptions is the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid.
According to U.S. government tests, front-wheel-drive versions of the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid get an impressive 34 miles per gallon in city driving and a very respectable 31 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive Escape Hybrid gets 29 mpg city and 27 on the EPA highway cycle. In addition, the Escape Hybrid earns California’s Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) status, the cleanest emissions rating achievable by a vehicle with a petroleum-burning engine.
While a conventional vehicle gets its best fuel mileage during steady, lower-speed highway cruising, a hybrid’s major fuel savings occurs by avoiding idling, since you’re getting zero miles per gallon when sitting still with the engine running. When at a stoplight, stuck in traffic or coasting down a long grade, the Escape Hybrid computer turns the engine off. At that time, the battery provides power for the radio, electrically driven power steering, and to restart the engine.
The ’09 Escape Hybrid gets an Atkinson-cycle version of the new 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine that is standard in gasoline-engine-only Escape. An Atkinson-cycle engine is more fuel-efficient than a conventional engine. In the Escape Hybrid, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder makes 153 horsepower and a peak of 136 pound-feet of torque.
The combination of the Escape Hybrid 94-kilowatt electric motor and gasoline engine produces acceleration to rival its V6-engined sibling. Considering the V6 makes an impressive 240-horsepower, that’s more than adequate to allow easy merging into a fast-moving freeway. Steep off-pavement trails will also be easily conquered.
This engine has a redesigned computer that smoothes the transition from gasoline-powered to electric-only operation. Other improvements reduce powertrain vibrations that were noticeable in last year’s vehicle. The Escape Hybrid comes with an electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT). An eCVT better keeps the gasoline engine in its most efficient operating range.
The 2009 Escape Hybrid also features a revised regenerative braking system. When you need to slow down or stop, this system captures some of the energy that was used to get the vehicle up to speed and would otherwise just be turned to heat by the brakes. In essence, it turns the electric motor into a generator and recharges the battery.
The Escape Hybrid 330-volt nickel-metal-hydride batteries are warranted for eight years or 100,000-miles in most states and 10 years or 150,000 miles in states that follow California standards (see your dealer for limited warranty details).
To help the Escape Hybrid go further on each gallon of gas, Michelin developed a new version of its Latitude Tour. This tire has lower rolling resistance, which means it takes less power—and thus less gas—to make the tire rotate.
Vehicle Dynamics and Proven Safety
In addition to the new gasoline engine for the gasoline-only powered Escape, major changes for the 2009 Escape Hybrid include restyled nose and hood, a capless refueling system, re-tuned suspension for better ride comfort and an enhanced braking system that improves initial performance during an urgent stop. Also new: The Escape Hybrid seat cushions are made with a soy-based foam rather than the conventional petroleum-derived product. Seat fabrics are made from 100 percent post-industrial materials. Leather seating surfaces are also optional. Cruise control now comes standard on all Escapes. The Escape Hybrid features a rear seat back that folds forward in a 60/40 split to enhance cargo room.
Escape Hybrid standard features include anti-lock brakes and Ford AdvanceTrac electronic stability control: Combined, they help the driver maintain control during accident avoidance maneuvers. The Escape Hybrid has six airbags, including a pair of two-row side-curtain airbags. The Ford Personal Safety System is also standard on all 2009 Escape and Escape Hybrid models. In addition to the dual-stage driver and front-passenger airbags, the system includes both driver and passenger seat position sensors, and load-limiting safety belt retractors and pretensioners.
These technologies work in concert for front airbag deployment depending on the driver’s seat location, passenger weight and safety belt use. They also helped the 2009 Escape earn 5-star crash-test honors from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award.
The standard sound system includes a single-disc CD player, four speakers and an MP3 audio jack. Available is a system that has a six-disc CD player, 320 watts of power and seven speakers. All Escape models are satellite-radio capable, and the Hybrid and Hybrid Limited come with a six-month subscription to SIRIUS satellite radio. Standard on Escape gas Limited and all Escape Hybrid models is SYNC, the voice-activation system for mobile phones, MP3 players and sound systems that was developed by Ford and Microsoft.
The Escape Hybrid is available in two trim levels: Escape Hybrid and new this model year the fully equipped Escape Hybrid Limited. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is available. Pricing starts just above $29,730 for the front-wheel-drive Escape Hybrid while a fully loaded all-wheel-drive Escape Hybrid Limited can exceed $35,000. The 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid proves an SUV can get great fuel mileage while helping keep the air clean. (www.fordvehicles.com)
About the Author
Mac Demere is a writer, vehicle tester and race driver who competed in the NASCAR Southwest Tour and Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
send them straight to your Inbox so
you can stay up to date and not
miss a thing!