- a city/urban slicker
- want to spend $5-6 more than you need to
- obliged to drive an auto
- disinterested in safety features like stability and traction control
- interested in being insignificantly greener
- thinking that an SUV with a 103+" wheelbase is a big SUV
- inclined to want awd for another $1-2 k
- disinclined to consider return on investment
- inclined to possibly become a "Hypermiler Poser"
With all due respect to your interests and inclinations, then go for the new Escape or Tribute or Mariner Hybrid rather than the Escape or Tribute fwd 5spd.
My father-in-law has an Escape Hybrid. I can't speak much of it because I've only driven it once or twice. Seems solid, was very impressed in the build quality for a domestic (no offense meant, I've owned primarily domestics in the past). The CVT is a little better in my bro-in-law's Prius... the CVT in the Escape seems to overrev for the throttle input... JMO though. It does get up and move very swiftly though when needed, like the Prius. (This is helped because they can run off of both gas/battery motors at the same time for more power.) I think he gets like a hair under 35MPG, but he also drives very slow in spots to maintain battery mode, takes high speed turns to keep momentum, and drives highway at like 5 below the limit. Tibor's #'s are impressive though for a 5MT gasoline Tribute, so take that into consideration of what is possible.
I do agree with Tribor in that it is not what you want to get from a strictly financial standpoint... it will take YEARS (if ever) before you recoop the money over a 5MT base Escape. However if you are more interested in the environmental impact of a Hybrid SUV vs. it's conventional counterpart, then go ahead and consider it! Do remember though, there are tax rebates out there (still I think?) to help even out the price.
Please accept my apology. My post was intended/directed to shortfalls of the SUV hybrid -- not you for asking--like really good in town mpg and so-so highway mpg (compared to non hybrid standard models available), unavailable safety features like traction and stability control, and no real opportunity to recover added costs unless it was driven several hundred thousand miles in the city (well beyond its useful life with battery replacement costs).
I think buying a small SUV hybrid like the Ford products (Escape, Tribute, and Mariner) makes more sense than buying a larger one with much poorer mpg numbers. Owning one is a statement that the owner's environmental intentions are good and indicates a willingness to spend extra $ to demonstrate that. I also think the Ford product family is out in front of other manufacturers with their small SUV. Buying a compact hybrid like a Prius or comparable Honda makes really good sense as the payback is much better although we don't know what those replacement battery packs will cost....do we?
Jandree has confirmed that a new Escape owner is very happy with it. So the Escape Hybrid is quite likely the best small suv hybrid available now. Planned improvements will include traction and stability control as I understand it. There should be a continuum of refinements to attract more buyers.
There’s something else to consider with those battery packs, regarding the environmental friendliness of them. I don’t remember specifics or a source, but I was reading an interesting article that questioned if Hybrids were in fact harsher to the environment overall because of their batteries. Although I’ve read that Lithium Ion batteries are on the horizon in at least the Prius (which aren’t as bad), the Escape still uses a Nickel based battery (Ni-MH)… and the argument that the manufacturing and eventual disposal of these batteries is going to be a real pain environmentally speaking. I believe the article attempts to compare a Prius vs. a Hummer (which I think is a real stretch), but perhaps it’s an arguable point when comparing a Escape Hybrid vs. an Escape.
That study was working with the assumption the Prius had a 100k mile life and the Hummer a 300k mile one. First gen Prius on the road with many more miles than that with the original battery.
Plus, the batteries are recyclable.
Having owned and researched the crap out of the Escape Hybrid, here's my view on it.
#1 It doesn't really do anything well except provide the punch in acceleration of the V6 while sipping the fuel better than the 4-cylinder in town.
It can't tow more than 1000 lbs. It only seats 5. And the AWD system supposedly doesn't do as well as other dedicated AWD systems on really slippery surfaces. I've read tales of people being stuck, spinning just one wheel, with the rest well planted on the ground, though I never experienced that myself.
Essentially the only reason I would get one again would be if I had to have the extra ground clearance, as otherwise, one could get similar hauling capacity, economy, and performance out of an Impreza hatchback for less money and potential technological headache.
It's a great vehicle and I don't fault the hybrid technology at all. It worked wonderfully. It's just not very practical when you start comparing actual capability vs. cost and payback.
That said, we sold ours primarily to get out of the payment. Otherwise I think we would still be driving it because it truly was pleasant to drive, and fun to push into the 40 mpg range by hypermiling.