Well I finally test-drove the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid SUV as part of my research into more fuel-efficient vehicles. If you did not read my earlier article let me get you up to speed quickly. I currently drive a 2002 Nissan Xterra and I am growing concerned with increasing fuel prices. What I wanted to know was do I have to forego my enjoyment of driving an SUV to save money?
The first phase of my research was to locate a Ford Escape Hybrid to test. Sounds easy enough but turns out it was a difficult task as it is the top-selling compact SUV in Canada. Although there are about 5 Ford Dealerships near my residence I had to travel to another major city to locate one. So there I was finally staring at a black 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD. The look was pleasantly aggressive and I really like the front-end face-lifts that Ford has given to many of their vehicles. The roof rack was a nice extra to accommodate my kayak and the interior appeared roomy enough for all the gear that I would take along on my kayak adventures. Although the interior space would carry my gear it was not enough for my mountain bike, but that can be solved with the rook rack. I also don't think I could sleep in the back but I guess I can invest in a better tent than my leaky one. So besides the bike and sleeping quarters, I was still impressed.
Let's get back onto the Hybrid part of this machine. The dashboard was well laid out and the battery indicator was intriguing. I wanted to know where the 330-volt battery was stored and see it but the sales staff would not let me open the metal cover in the back. My question to the sales staff was how reliable is the battery? The sales staff assured me that it is very reliable and has an 8-year warranty.
Ok, so the Escape Hybird looks like a regular SUV and has a battery but how does it drive? When I started it I heard the typical 4-cylinder gas engine immediately. The sales person stated that the Hybrid had been idle for some time and therefore the batteries would require some charging before coming into use and would charge quickly with some driving. The way the battery is charged is it takes the energy created during breaking and is stores it in the battery. I was curious to see how long it would take for me to drive until the charge would be enough, so I ventured out onto the busy streets of Mississauga. At the 6-minute mark of driving time I was shocked at what happened next, while stopped at a red light the engine became so quiet that I was initially alarmed that the vehicle had shut off - great, stuck in a busy intersection! I began laughing as I pushed on the accelerator pedal (not the gas pedal) and the Ford Hybrid punched forward. It was in electric mode - amazing! Once I began accelerating, the engine went into gas mode again as the demand was too much for the battery and needed more charging. Given more time for the batteries to charge fully I would have had more electric driving.
During my short drive I experienced both electric and gas modes. I was very impressed with the performance while in electric mode. The sound and feel was similar to driving a golf cart (a much larger golf cart of course with more accessories). I also felt really good about being in electric mode as during that time I was not exhausting fuel and the truck's emissions were practically non-existent.
I must conclude that the Ford Escape Hybrid is a must have for drivers who enjoy SUV's. Like many of us who associated Hybrid with “small" now need to change our thoughts to “fuel efficient" and “functional". Try a Hybrid, save money, and the environment.
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About Sean Stewart: Sean Stewart is the president of http://www.YourAutoMarket.com - A unique online auto classified website connecting used vehicle buyers and sellers through online ads featuring “virtual test drive" video. Both private sellers and dealerships use YourAutoMarket.com's video ads to find more customers and get a better selling price. YourAutoMarket.com donates $1 from each add listing to the Lincoln County Humane Society. Learn more about YourAutoMarket.com's services at http://www.YourAutoMarket.com