Preowned: 2005-2007 Ford Escape Hybrid
Ford had promised more Green vehicles and improved fuel economy throughout its line well before the first Escape was introduced for 2001. But it took until the 2005 model year for Ford to deliver its first hybrid on the familiar Escape platform, which itself received minor improvements for 2005.
Combining a reworked version of the base four-cylinder--a DOHC, 2.3-liter engine, an updated version of which powers the base Escape featuring a useful 153 horsepower--with an inline electric motor made this a hybrid. Unlike Honda's car hybrids, the Escape could be run on the electric motor only at low speeds, like the Prius. In fact, that motor was one of two, the other a powerful starter/alternator pack; it was sandwiched between the engine and the continuously variable transmission (the only choice).
Economy was further improved by the four-banger using the Atkinson cycle design--think of it as a conventional engine with an ultra-high compression ratio, 12.3:1 in this case, and "long" intake-valve timing. The resulting greater expansion ratio improves thermal efficiency at the expense of power; it's rated for 133 horsepower, but with the electric motor the total power is rated at 155. Though ostensibly a front-driver, the Escape Hybrid could also be ordered as a full-time AWD model.
Compared with a Prius, the Escape's economy numbers don't seem impressive, but they're heady stuff in today's world of eye-watering fuel prices: Under the old EPA rating system, the hybrid pulled 36 mpg city and 31 highway. This flip-flop from the norm of better-highway-than-city mileage is due to the electric motor, fed by a 330-volt, 200-pound battery pack beneath the cargo area, doing a good share of the work in stop-and-go driving.
Aside from the powertrain, Escape Hybrids aren't much different from their dino-only siblings. This generation finally had the automatic's shift lever mounted to the floor in place of the obstructive column shift so derided by early Escape buyers. For that matter, in the short period the hybrid was offered in this chassis--2008 saw a reworked Escape--Ford made no changes of note.
Early reliability appears to be hit and miss, as you might expect from new technology. Owners reported issues with the engine shutting down as the result of a cooling-system failure; the coolant courses through the engine and takes heat from the electric drive motor. The computer will shut down the vehicle if it senses either power producer is in danger of meltdown. Your Ford dealer knows all about it through a Technical Service Bulletin. Be sure any Escape Hybrid you consider has this and all TSBs complied. Owners also complain about wind noise and short-lived brakes, problems common to the regular Escape. Moreover, it seems prudent to look for a vehicle already under an extended warranty. The standard warranty is 3 years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles on the powertrain, and 8 years/100,000 miles on the unique hybrid components.
There is, unquestionably, risk associated with buying a used, high-technology vehicle like the Escape Hybrid, but with a good service history and an iron-clad warranty, the fuel savings might make it worthwhile.
|2005-2007 Ford Escape Hybrid|
|Body type||4-door SUV|
|Drivetrain||Front engine, FWD/AWD|
|Engine||2.3L/133-hp DOHC I-4, 94-hp perm-magnet AC synchronous motor|
|Brakes, f/r||Disc/disc, ABS|
|Price range, whlsl/ret (IntelliChoice)||$12,354/$17,427 (2005 FWD); $18,167/$24,557 (2007 AWD)|
|Recalls||06V382000; Improperly heat-treated intermediate (half) shafts.|
|NHTSA frontal impact rating, driver/pass||Five stars/three stars|