Pros: Gas mileage, nimble driving, in-dash navigation system, storage
Cons: Blind spots, storage in center console, cheap cluster gauge
My first impression of this car was that it was so CUTE!!! When I told my husband this, he was not amused :) While on deployment, he ordered this car, sight unseen, from the Overseas Military Sales Corporation. He chose the Escape Hybrid because it was a hybrid SUV that combined our need for size (3 year old and newborn to cart around), function (we live in the country), and gas mileage. When he got home and saw the car, he was pleasantly surprised that it wasnt girlie cute, but in actuality, very SUV like. I guess the cute factor came in to play with me since we also own the Ford Expedition and I felt like we could drive this much smaller car up into the back seat of what we lovingly refer to as The Beast.
I am certainly not a car nut that can go on and on about V6 that and ICE this with a bit of RBS thrown in for good measure, but I sure hope that my views on a bit more mundane issues are helpful!
We got the Ford Escape, Hybrid model with in dash audiophile / navigation system, 110v receptacle, rear floor mats, rear cargo area cover, extended warranty, leather package, and safety package (including side impact curtains). We basically got every option we could with the exception of the special paint for the grill and bumpers.
Items that Im really happy about with the car:
MPG: 31 32 city, 29 highways. I LOVE the gas mileage on this car!!! You definitely change your driving habits when you realize that quick starts from a stop or accelerating up a hill will kill your mpg. The onboard hybrid monitoring system (optional) is great for showing you what your current and historical mpg is. The thing to watch out for is to not pay too much attention to the display and more attention to the road. It gets to feeling like a video game after a while and that gets dangerous! My subdivision has a 20mph speed limit and its about 1.2 miles to my house on moderately hilly roads. Its a game now to see if I can get all the way home on electric power only. I try and use the hills going down to build up speed (about 30mph) which lets me get up the next hill with minimal use of the go pedal (I call it that since Im not using gas). What a twisted way to have fun...
The Escape has a 15 gallon tank, and takes 12 gallons to get full from the red E so its pretty cheap to fill up. The onboard mpg calculator normally tells me that I have about 450 miles to go until empty when I fill up and I can typically go about 370-380 miles before I am on the red E. I Use regular (87 octane) gas and have no problem with it.
The storage in back is great!! To give some perspective on size, I got a toilet-in-a-box, pedestal sink with basin, toolbox and umbrella stroller in the back with the rear seats still up and even had a little room left over. Ive also done a full warehouse style shopping run including two boxes of diapers, wipes and formula etc with kids in the back seat with no problems.
I also love the fact that the seats fold up on themselves, which allow for even greater amounts of rear storage in addition to the 60/40 split seats. The perfectly flat area in the back is great for storing furniture in boxes, plastic chairs for the deck, etc. A disappointment though, is that size restrictions mean no 3rd row seat. The soon to be released hybrid Toyota Highlander will have the 3rd row and it doesnt appear that much bigger than the Escape.
The in-dash navigation system has been wonderful and extremely helpful in navigating the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area. Ive used it to get around traffic jams (looking at the map for different streets) and for getting to areas I wasnt sure about. A bonus is that my 3 year old really enjoys looking at the map when were driving- go figure! The 6 CD player under the passenger seat and the in dash CD player (which is where the navigation disks go) are great and the controls for using them are intuitive and easy to operate when driving.
The navigation system will not allow you to program in a new destination while you are driving, however, only when the car is stopped- and that is NOT a bad thing in my opinion. You can select preset locations to navigate to when driving and that is a nice feature. Ive used the Home button when I got a little (okay, a LOT) lost in Maryland and needed to find the highway. The voice commands really help when you are paying attention to traffic and dont want to take your eyes off the road.
The car is not beastly big (like my Expedition) but it is still high enough off the ground for good sightlines out of the front of the car. It can also whip a U-turn out in no time flat, as the turning radius is very tight. The steering wheel is very responsive and has none of the lag I associate with normal power steering, which makes the steering feel very crisp and nimble to me. When driving, I dont feel the tippy-ness I associate with my Expedition so it feels a bit safer to me as well.
I havent had the opportunity to need the intelligent 4WD yet, but I really like the fact that if I start slipping and sliding, the 4WD will come on automatically so I dont have to worry about it.
The braking will take a bit of getting used to when you initially start driving the car. The brakes feel springy to me, like they are actually pushing back when I use them. I assume that this is a factor of the regenerative braking system, so its a matter of getting used to it. The brakes respond quickly and properly so Im very happy with that aspect of the car. I also like knowing that when I hit the brakes in traffic, Im going to electric power, saving gas and recharging the battery all at the same time- a positive note in a not so positive time. Anyone who has driven in D.C. traffic will understand exactly what Im talking about.
I have really enjoyed the 110V plug in front of car- its great! Ive used it with my car phone desk charger and my sons DVD player. The only drawback I can see with it is that the outlets dont stay on when the car is off.
Some other aspects that Ive enjoyed are the fact that the car has plenty of legroom in back and front (Im 5 9 and my husband is 6 so we really needed this) and the seats are very comfortable. The Escape fits in our regular sized garage with plenty of room to spare. I also like the fact that on the rear hatch, I can open the glass window only if I want to or I can open the entire door. This is very convenient for pulling out strollers or a couple of items in a packed area.
Items that Im not so happy with include:
Blind spots on the sides looking back. They are pretty bad, especially with the three rear headrests in place. I had to put the side mirror spots (little convex mirrors) on and I still feel like Im going on a hope and a prayer when I change lanes.
The Escape doesnt feel like a true V6 when accelerating quickly. I realize that it doesnt have a real V6, but it is touted as being equivalent to and I have to disagree. I also own a 2000 Avalon XLS V6 and the Escape just doesnt compare when you stomp on the accelerator to get on the highway. It certainly does respond, just not as quick or with as much oompf as a real V6- but hey, it gets great gas mileage! Its a heck of a lot better with acceleration than my 4 cylinder Saturn!
The Escape is awkward to climb into and out of. Im not really sure what the problem is, but Im used to 1) sitting and swinging my legs into a car or 2) grabbing a pull bar, sitting and swinging my legs into an SUV. With the Escape, you have to lift your foot up and over a lip in the floor get in, and even though the Escape is lower than a full sized SUV and doesnt require a pull bar to get in, its tricky to get into without stumbling at first. My 42-inch tall 3 1/2 year old can climb into our Expedition with no problem but needs help getting into the Escape.
LATCH system: Lower Anchors are fine and easy to use, but the Tethers are on the ceiling all the way in the back by the rear hatch. If you attach to them, it is very awkward to use the rear cargo area completely and the tethers obstruct an already poor view in the rear. Why couldnt they put these on the seatbacks like other cars?
I really hate the fact that adding the 110V electric outlet and extra power port took away storage area in the center console. As a result, there are only two stadium style cup holders placed front to back in the center console that really arent adequate or easy to use for two passengers. The back cup holder is flush up against the armrest / storage bin and slightly under the lip of the lid to the storage bin. This means that 1) its awkward to get your coffee up out of it and 2) if the coffee cup is too tall, it wont fit under the lid. There is also no little catchall holder (like an ashtray) for coins, etc. This is such a small, insignificant thing to complain about, but its one of the first things that irritated me on a daily basis about the Escape!
For the price I paid ($32,000), I wish that the car had more luxurious touches. I was really disappointed that there was no sunroof or heated seats available. The leather feels more like pleather and I truly hope that the leather softens up with time and use. I was REALLY disappointed in the cheap appearing cluster gauges. This car has dials for heating and A/C etc. For $32k, I would have liked some choice as to temperature for the driver and passenger sides and to also have digital displays and buttons. Electric seat controls on the passenger side would have been nice as well.
The carpet covering the floor in the rear cargo area (over the battery pack) doesnt stay put if you slide something over it (like the above mentioned toilet-in-a-box) and its very hard to put back so that its completely tucked in and flat. I ended up putting a plastic tablecloth over the carpet for protection of the carpet and for ease of pushing and pulling things out of the back. On a good note, though, is that the rear is deep enough for this to even be a problem!
All told, Im very happy with the Ford Escape Hybrid. It does everything we ask of it and more! Its fun to drive and looks great! Weve made several 4 ? hour trips to the Outer Banks with it and not only did we get great gas mileage, but it was comfortable and we were able to fit a weeks worth of baby stuff AND our stuff in the back. I also liked having the option of putting a turtle on the roof rack if I needed more space. Its a great car and you wont be disappointed if you buy it.