When I picked up my sister-in-law in the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid for a pizza run on Sunday Family Night (an entertaining evening in which us grownup kids make fun of mom), the first thing out of her mouth was "What car is this? It seems like it's made entirely out of plastic." It immediately got me reminiscing about my grandma's sofa.

When my grandma moved from Virginia to Colorado to be closer to our family, not only did she have boxes full of knick-knacks that were incredibly appealing to my pre-teen self, she also had an unforgettable sofa: Gold velour with a hateful green and blue floral pattern on it. This sofa's tacky factor rivaled velvet Elvis paintings. Even worse (because, honestly, a velour sofa could have redeeming characteristics, like being super comfy to lounge on in skimpy summer PJ's), the entire thing was covered in protective plastic.

Plastic. Not comfy to lounge on, and no fun to drive in. Even if you could get past the Escape Hybrid's cheap materials, driving it felt like trying to Flintstone Grandma's plastic sofa up to speed on the highway. I was thrilled the kids were still on summer break while I had this car, as that minimized the number of highway miles I had to log. The continuously variable automatic transmission (a fancy-pants term meaning, among other things, that you don't get a kick in the butt as the vehicle changes gears), was incredibly frustrating and even louder than Grandma when her hearing aid battery failed.

I did appreciate the rear park assist on this car (you can imagine how important that would be when driving a plastic sofa), as well as the touch-screen navigation system, the sunroof and the easy-to-use Latch connectors.

The modern amenities in the Escape Hybrid would probably make Grandma's head spin - God rest her soul - if she were around to experience them. I loved the standard auxiliary input jack to plug in my iPod for some serious mood-altering audio therapy, and for the kids' books on tape (or, rather, books on iPod). The 110-volt outlet in the front would also boggle Grandma's mind; imagine what she'd think of being able to plug in any number of modern amenities, most of which would best be used when the vehicle is not in motion - laptop, vacuum cleaner, espresso machine with frothing wand ... anyone? Anyone?

The center console in the Escape Hybrid has an adjustable cubby-like system to help keep all my mommy things organized. This was a huge benefit and compensated for the inadequate, narrow rectangular pockets in the rear doors, which seemed to fit nothing. Well, not exactly nothing - my sage green travel portfolio, about which I receive numerous compliments, fit perfectly. Why I'd want to store this in the rear door pockets, however, I have yet to figure out.

Attempting to fold the backseat to store antiques, possibly of the smelly velour variety, was also a pain. The 60/40-split folding rear seats required a two-step process to go down. Why Ford uses this mechanism rather than a one-step process - or, better yet, electronically via the push of a button, saving me time and grief - is a mystery. Almost as big a mystery as grandma's collection of smutty paperback romance novels (eewww!).

Last but not least, trying to close the tailgate on the Escape required near superhuman strength. I'll be lucky if my muscle tone is still sharp enough to close this tailgate when I'm 80, at which time I hope that the plastic sofa-cover gene will have eluded me, along with the get-my-hair-set-weekly-at-the-$5-beauty-school gene. Grandmas - you gotta love 'em. The Escape Hybrid? Not so much.

*For more information on the Ford Escape Hybrid and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to editor@motherproof.com.

LET'S TALK NUMBERS

Latch Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair - Great

Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): None - Some

Specs

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD

Base price: $27,015

Price as tested: $31,915

Engine: 133-hp, 2.3-liter I-4

Fuel: 29/27 mpg

Length: 174.7"

Width: 71.1"

Ground Clearance: 8.6"

Turning Radius: 18.3'

Cargo space: 27.8 - 66.0 cu. ft.

NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings

Frontal Impact

Driver's side: 3 Stars

Passenger's side: 5 Stars

Side Impact

Front occupant: 5 Stars

Rear occupant: 5 Stars

Rollover resistance: Not rated