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Old 04-28-2007, 01:00 PM
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Arrow Ford gets greener than ever with the 2008 Escape Hybrid

Ford gets greener than ever with the 2008 Escape Hybrid

Hybrid vehicles have gone from a curiosity to the mainstream almost overnight and that's a good thing.

The public has accepted the wisdom of hybrids and the proof is in the sales charts.

The Ford Escape is already the top-selling small SUV on the market, and one of only two small SUV hybrids on the market, the other being the Saturn Vue Green Line.

When it came to styling the 2008 version of the Escape and Hybrid, designers dropped the cladding of the previous model and then set about rounding the corners of what was essentially the brick-like form that SUV buyers covet for its rugged/brawny appearance. In the process, the 2008 is now much handsomer.

The 2008 Escape Hybrid front-wheel-drive (AWD) starts at $31,499 and the all-wheel-drive (AWD) version starts at $33,899.

The interior was given a complete makeover with a centre control stack that features a top-of-dash information display. Ford also dropped the traditional green nighttime interior lighting for something they call Ice Blue.

The Escape Hybrid is based on the same 2.3-litre, inline four-cylinder engine as the base 2008 Escape. The engine produces 133 hp and 124 lb/ft of torque.

An integral electric motor that is driven by the transmission produces up to 94 hp and 152 lb/ft of torque. Because the gasoline and electric drives work at different times, the power numbers are not combined. However for simplicity, Ford says net power of the Hybrid is 155 hp.

Ford claims fuel savings of up to 75 per cent if the Escape is used in mostly urban driving. Ford produced an intriguing data sheet comparing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of all the carmakers' standard and hybrid versions. The front-drive Escape Hybrid showed a 30.5 per cent increase in efficiency over the standard front-drive, four-cylinder Escape. As a comparison, the Toyota Prius had a 35.9 per cent increase in efficiency over the Toyota Yaris (both with 1.5-litre engines).

But for the average person like you and me, what real benefits are there in buying a hybrid? Right off the bat, you pay thousands of dollars more for a hybrid, so when does it start making financial sense? And what happens if the system dies or the battery fails?

There are "mild hybrids" and "full hybrids". The mild hybrid consists of an engine with an electric motor driven off it. It can shut off the engine at stop lights and also give a boost of additional power under acceleration, but can never be driven under full electric power. Normally, mild hybrids get about 10-15 per cent better fuel economy.

Full hybrids use both an engine and/or an electric motor to drive the wheels.

Full hybrids like the 2008 Escape get about 50 to 85 per cent better fuel economy, with stop-and-go urban driving being the most beneficial. This is because the Escape Hybrid not only shuts down when stopped, but it can travel at up to 48 km/h on pure battery power for up to two kms before the battery needs a boost. But you can lengthen this out because during braking or deceleration, the electric motor acts like a generator supplying regenerative power straight to the battery.

Much recent effort has gone into using as much battery power as possible and extending the time of battery duration. This can be monitored on the multi function LCD display on the dash. The display gives instant read-outs of how much fuel/battery juice is being used depicted on a bar graph, as well as showing which way the power is being used/saved by both modes of power. It is easy to comprehend and fun to use.

As far as what happens if the system fails for whatever reason, the Hybrid has an eight-year, 160,000 km limited warranty in addition to the three-year, 160,000 km bumper-bumper warranty.

The extra cost of adding hybrid drive is an issue usually raising the price of the hybrid over the standard vehicle anywhere from $5,000-$10,000. The FWD Escape XLS is $25,399 versus $31,499 for the FWD Hybrid or roughly $6,100 more for the hybrid. It's the same $6,100 difference for the AWD Hybrid at $33,899 versus the AWD XLS at $27,799.

That's a lot extra for sure, but the recent federal budget allows the Escape Hybrid to qualify for the full $2,000 rebate and there is a $2,000 provincial tax credit in Ontario. The difference of $4,000 covers about two-thirds of the premium you pay for the Hybrid drive and you should be able to make up the shortfall in fewer fill-ups long before the service life of the Escape is over.

But, there's something else, the intangible of doing something positive about the environment.

We all know now we have to do our part about preserving the planet, and doing it behind the wheel of a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid is following the right road.

Source: [url=http://www.hamiltonmountainnews.com/hmn/news/news_774266.html]Hamilton Mountain News[/url]
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