The Ford Escape Hybrid compact SUV received some styling changes, inside and out, and a quieter cabin last year. For 2009 it gets a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and additional standard safety features. There's also a new trim level called the Limited Hybrid. Competitors include the Saturn Vue 2-Mode Hybrid and Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
New for 2009
With the Escape Hybrid's new, larger four-cylinder engine comes more advanced electronics that Ford says provide smooth switching from gas to electric mode. The hybrid's brakes also have been reworked for improved pedal feel.
With its styling changes for 2008, the Escape Hybrid now looks more like a Ford Explorer. It has a plunging chrome grille that would be equally at home on a Volkswagen Jetta or Passat. A raised hood and higher beltline may make the SUV look tougher, but they probably don't do much for visibility.
Exterior features include:
- Squared-off appearance
- Available moonroof
- New Limited Hybrid trim level features chrome trim, 16-inch aluminum wheels and keyless entry
Changes for 2008 included a new top-of-dash display and blue backlighting on the gauges. Also, the center control panel got a badly needed update. Ford also addressed one of the loudest complaints about the model by quieting the cabin. Sheet metal changes and a new windshield and ceiling liner addressed wind noise. Thicker carpeting was claimed to diminish road noise. Overall, Ford said, the Escape is 12 percent quieter at 80 mph.
Interior features include:
- New Limited Hybrid trim includes a six-CD audio system, chrome and black trim and heated leather front seats
- An outdated folding backseat design requires that you flip the seat cushion forward and remove the head restraints
Under the Hood
The Escape Hybrid's 153-horsepower gasoline engine uses the Atkinson-cycle combustion process for greater fuel efficiency.
- Standard continuously variable automatic transmission
- Front- or all-wheel drive
- Capable of moving on electric power alone at low speeds
The Escape Hybrid gains a standard electronic stability system for 2009. The system incorporates Roll Stability Control, which is only available on SUVs from Ford-owned brands, including the system's originator, Volvo. It is the only system with a sensor that detects the beginning of a rollover and can act to stop it.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Side curtain airbags
- All-disc antilock brakes
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