Ford's 'Cute Ute' Isn't Gas Guzzler

The Escape Hybrid's 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with a 70-kilowatt motor that produces the equivalent of about 95 horsepower - enough to move the SUV through city traffic all by itself.

Published: 23-May-2005

StartFragment --> As I leave work for the day and head for an SUV parked in an underground garage, a colleague glances up from her desk and, with a sweet smile, says: "I hope you hit a lot of traffic."

But she's not sarcastically demanding gas-pump justice from a solo commuter driving way too much car. Rather, she knows that when I start the slow roll home, my ride will be golf-cart quiet and (mostly) emissions-free.

The vehicle: a 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid, the gas-electric version of the V6 "cute ute" launched in 2001 and first offered in hybrid form last fall. About $3,500 more than its outwardly identical gasoline counterpart, it's the pioneer in a paradoxical-sounding category: the eco-friendly sport-utility vehicle.

With "clean diesel" vehicles a couple of model years in the future, and hydrogen fuel-cell cars even farther down the road, it's encouraging to see automakers working to deliver a smart interim option for consumers seeking fuel efficiency and ultralow emissions in an SUV.


Third quarter losses and fierce competition for American car and truck buyers, prompted the automaker to launch a corporate-wide campaign last month to reposition Ford Motor as a leader in innovation and cutting-edge energy policies.

While Ford is having trouble getting hybrids to American buyers, in the UK, Ford cars average 20-40 mpg more than their US counterparts.

Ford's next hybrid will be the Fusion slated to be introduced in 2008, along with the Mercury Milan Hybrid.


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