adds a coup de grace for '05. Its first-ever hybrid-powered
sport utility delivers fuel- and emission-reducing power
in a conventional vehicle rather than a miniature-sized
casing with balloon-smooth exterior and other-worldly personality.
decision to develop a larger hybrid made total sense, according
to company execs. Sport utilities have borne the brunt of
criticism for being gas hogs. Having the most popular small
SUV on the planet become a green machine would potentially
save far more fuel and deliver more clean air than a mini-sized
car, and would send a clear, planet-friendly message in
Ford's Escape is what's known as a full hybrid that combines
a special 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder internal combustion gasoline
engine with an electric motor, and can run solely on either
or a combination of both. Other systems, called mild hybrids,
always run in combination. The electric motor gives a boost
when more power is needed, cutting the need for a larger
engine. The system is self-contained and recharges the motor's
battery pack when the engine is running, or from "drag"
test drive of the Hybrid Escape confirmed what we had heard.
The hybrid system is virtually undetectable, even during
aggressive driving -- other than nearly doubling fuel economy.
When you zip past gas stations with no need to fill up,
you tend to notice.
Escape gives big engine power for budget operational cost,
once one balances about a $4,000 premium for the high technology
against potential tax credits. Apparently that doesn't bother
a lot of people. Even Ford didn't expect it to be as popular
as it's becoming.