[NOTE-- I recently completed several posts on a 10-day, 2700-mile road trip through California, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada. For transportation, we drove a 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid, loaned to us by Ford Motors in return for my objective review, which follows here.]
I pitched Scott Monty at Ford Motors on a lark. I was planning a summer road trip and wondered if I could review a Ford Fusion Hybrid as I, and my wife, bopped around the US Northwest visiting family and National Parks.
My pitch was that I would write from the perspective of an everyday driver, who handles a car differently than professionals who actually understand cars and how to drive them. My hidden agenda was the hope that I’d get better mileage than my own aging Acura RL has been getting.
Scott liked the idea and put me in touch with Gwen Peake, a digital communications manager who steered me away from the fusion and into a new Escape Hybrid, a four-passenger SUV, which she said would give us more power and a better view of the roadside beauties we were looking for.
I agreed, figuring Ford would know better than me. They were absolutely right. Overall, my wife Paula and I loved almost everything about the Escape. My 90-year-old mother-in-law who tested the back seat for the first 400 miles of our junket directed me to ditch my Acura and go out and buy one of these immediately.
If this were the time for me to buy a new car, the Escape Hybrid would be a major candidate.
It took us less than 500 miles to get used to both the unique characteristics of the near silent motor and the bigness of the SUV. In fact, the Escape handled pretty much like my four-door sedan. It handled hills and curves well. It had plenty of pick up. It held easily in wind gusts. It was silent, smooth, spacious and solid.
One surprise is that we found it as quiet inside as in my luxury sedan, which would be about twice the price of the $30K hybrid if I bought a new one today. We found the sound system, visibility dashboard gave us everything we would want in a car.
Most of our driving was on open roads. We climbed up as high as 8900 feet in the Rockies and were on lots of sparsely driven back-roads, testing it’s performance, which cost me $85 in Eastern Idaho. Our mileage never went below 30 MPH or above 32. We tried regular, medium and high octane gas and both performance and mileage remained the same.
There was some slight strain when we tromped the accelerator while climbing the steeper stretches of Rocky Mountain road. The tachometer went above 4000 and we heard sort of a wimpy whiny sound. But I would expect that. The temperature was often above 90. The air thin, the incline sharp and few cars would take those hills without complaining.
Ford has a deal with Microsoft, which puts a Windows into every dashboard. It’s called Synch and manages Bluetooth and USB connected devices. It also handles the navigation system. Both Paula and I have used Nav systems before but we could not decipher how to program this one for a destination. We brought it to a Ford dealership where a nice sales lady read pages from the manual. She got it to work once then failed on a second try.
We were also puzzled why playing an iPod through Synch was more confusing than playing music through the iPod. This may have all been user error, but it seemed to us that Synch could be made a lot easier.
This is a new generation of SUV, one that doesn’t bother with four-wheel drive. It is probably designed more for the soccer mom/pop than the off-road aficionado.
From what I could make out, the Escape Hybrid fills the bill in every way.