I can think of two reasons: Snow, and river crossings. :P
I don't get it either. We had an Escape Hybrid 4WD however, and in the 6 months we had it, we never had a use for the 4WD. For that matter, we figured out we didn't really have a use for a SUV at all. Regardless, we did get over 28 mpg average economy out of it, but I have a hard time arguing the practical merits of it unless people routinely drive in snow or over rougher terrain, for which 4WD is obviously the better option.
Anyway, I've seen people do even better on economy than 30 mpg with the FWD hybrid, so don't let me be a wet blanket there.
Whats the point of a front wheel drive SUV exactly?
If it's a good FWD setup it'll go through snow that would stop a RWD... but it ain't so hot for heavy towing, but since these small ones are never specced for more than about 4000lb anyway, it barely figures in.
I remember The RoadWarrior..To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time..the world was powered by the black fuel & the desert sprouted great cities..Gone now, swept away..two mighty warrior tribes went to war & touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing..thundering machines sputtered & stopped..Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice
It is always funny on this forum how when an "SUV" is thrown in the mix...there are always some who have to go out of their way to "knock down" all SUVs. Whether it is "Nobody needs 4WD" or "I can carry as much in my Mazda 5 as you can in your SUV", it always pops up. Having the specs of "Cargo Capacity" does not tell the whole story...it is also the shape of the space that is important to some. I agree that not very many SUVs can get 30 mpg highway...but I know that I can get 30+ with 100% highway driving. 4WD also means AWD/FullTime 4WD for some of us which gives better traction on ALL surfaces. Some people with SUVs have the need to tow stuff over 2500# and up...I can easily pull 5000#.
All I am saying is that some need not be so quick to jump on the SUVs and realize that some of us use them for what they are...a 4WD Offroad, AWD Onroad, Large piece cargo carrying, Trailer Towing Dual Purpose Vehicle.
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I don't want to take this further off-topic than it already is, but I'll just suffice it by saying that SUVs have their place, however, the place for the FWD Hybrid Escape/Mariner is more limited than most SUVs. It's a great car, but it is NOT a great SUV. We loved our 4WD, but it simply wasn't practical for us against the numerous other options out there.
Ok, I forgot that this thread is in the reviews section, so I'm going to expand on this a little more.
What we liked about our Hybrid Escape:
And of course, nearly 30 mpg in a 4WD SUV
What we didn't like:
1000 lb towing capacity is worthless
Limited cargo space
Only seated 5
Unfortunately the things we didn't like ended up being the reasons for us selling it. We needed to tow a boat, and pickups with that kind of capacity and 4WD are ubiquitous. Plus we already had one with room for six adults. In other words, the pickup did everything the Escape did not do. The tradeoff was in fuel economy. For that, we replaced the Escape with the Mazda5, which seats 6, and has more interior cargo space than the Escape when configured for 5 people.
In other words, the Escape Hybrid was a compromise between the two vehicles that we really needed, and it failed in that regard. The FWD version fails even more handily for our purposes.
So in all non-SUV hating seriousness, the practicallity of the FWD Escape Hybrid is limited. There are other SUVs that can tow more, haul more, and get comparable or slightly lower fuel economy, AND there are cars that can haul more, tow as much or more, and get better fuel economy. So unless the FWD hybrid is one's only vehicle and the extra ground clearance or outward vision are the only real SUV-type needs, it's just not all that practical. For even money, one can buy a Prius that will get better economy, seat as many people, and carry as much cargo.
Our reasoning for getting the 4WD version in the first place was for skiing. Other than that, it was pointless.
I'm not knocking people for buying and driving them, just pointing out that the actual utility of them is hardly noteworthy, and even less so without the 4WD.
It's also impossible to argue with just flat out liking a vehicle. On that note, the Escape Hybrid has actually been one of the more practical vehicles we've owned. :P
Anyway, Tribor, have you tried neutral coasting to get that economy or is that from simply keeping an eye on the gauge?
One of the oddest things (coming from a non-hybrid) that I really liked about ours was that it actually got better economy in the slower speed stop and go hills than it did in the 4-lane 40 mph zones. I could routinely get in excess of 45 mpg in such areas.
I've done some coasting. My mileage is down around town as I have about a 1000 ft climb to where I live so am running around 28 mpg. Planning a round trip to FL soon and am curious what cross country numbers will be.
Have noted intelligent arguments for and against fwd "SUV". Mine are "fors" as I wonder why people have awd SUV's when I can go to the top of Mt. Ashland with 5-6" of snow on the road and OEM tires (that are kind of crappy) with a stick shift fwd suv with traction control and have no problems. The extra weight and economy compromises of an awd suv don't seem very necessary to me unless you're an off road rock climber and I'm not. I like to carry stuff around (bikes) and like the spaciousness, security, and improved economy (drag from racks can lop off 5 mpg!) of a larger interior. But foremost is price ($17k new) and operating costs (30 mpg without a lot of straining!) with this convenience. So I'm very happy and don't think a fwd SUV is a compromise. My son has a Mazda5 which is a great family vehicle that can't quite match the Tribute economy. His major complaint is the fragility of bodywork.
So I think it's a matter of taste and what one wants in a vehicle as well as prescribed budget. My preference would have been a new fwd Toyota RAV4.......but not for $5-6 k more and less fuel economy.
I don't see much point to the fwd hybrid suv (Escape, Mariner, Tribute) as the economy is not that much improved over fwd versions with stick shifts--with some focused hypermiling-- with a premium of $6-8k and--as I understand it--a compromised traction/stability control capability with cvt tranny so agree with Snax that they're not much to write home about.
Whats the point of a front wheel drive SUV exactly?
In a way, there isn't. Remember that many SUVs are bought for the look by people that could just as readily be buying a station wagon or minivan, people who at worst need AWD rather than a real 4WD system. One advantage over either of those is ground clearance, another is durability, at least perceived durability (its a truck after all ).
As to mileage, I was somewhat shocked to see someone advertising a CR-V and its great fuel mileage at 25 MPG. Ummm, my Samurai got that on a good day, and my Sidekick (4 door) on a bad day. I guess AWD eats up a lot of fuel mileage, after all, on either of those, I could turn it off, turning my Suzuki into a 2 WD, albeit with extra weight from the transfer case and front axle.
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Somehow I got the idea that you had the hybrid version Tribor. The non-hybrid I4 version makes more sense to me on a cost basis in a FWD. It's about as nice as any other FWD car at a similar price, but if you are a skiier, you get the bonus of that extra ground clearance. The V6 Escape is gas guzzler by comparison.
The primary reason we elected to get the hybrid version was because fuel economy was comparable to the i4, if not slightly better, but it had the punch of the V6. Again, a compromise, but at a roughly $3500 premium.