Before and After: The 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

What, with our dog and the frequent trips up north, my wife and I have never regretted purchasing our 2004 Escape. But now I’m a little envious. With little jump in cost, there’s been bags of innovation in the 2009 Escape Hybrid – starting with the obvious. No, I’m not talking about the soy-foam seats.

Fuel consumption: 9

It’s nearly twice more efficient on gas than ours. It delivers up to 6.4 L/100km on the highway and a far more impressive 5.8 in the city where you can ride almost silently on electricity at low speeds.

When you finally do gas up, check out the ‘capless refueling system’: you don’t unwind any cap, but simply force the gas pump through a manifold. For us forgetful types who sometimes screw the cap on improperly it prevents unnecessary evaporation. And your hands need never reek of gasoline again – though some people like that smell. (Maybe that’s why we’re forgetful?)

Technology (green and otherwise): 7.5

This is a tall SUV and I’ve tilted the 2004 model. So the new rollover sensors are a welcome innovation.

And in the past, this column has gushed about Ford’s SYNC connectivity system, pimped by Microsoft. The reason? This voice-recognition technology for your phone, stereo, etc. actually works. Somebody tell my bank.

Ford’s press materials talk of the Escape Hybrid’s smoother, almost imperceptible, transition between electric and gas modes. I disagree: I found the transition distinctly audible and palpable. However, I challenge anyone to discern where it moves from its electric regenerative braking system to the traditional.

WIGYL*: 8

A badge of honour, that Hybrid logo is prominently visible from any perspective. You can woo outdoorsy women in goretex and spandex for a vigourous adventure in the country. Four-wheel drives like the Escape Hybrid deserve to be taken off the road. On a favourite closed trail behind a ski hill, it easily climbed at a pitch that made passengers very nervous.

Try it: It’s sure to heat up those soy seats – incidentally, the back ones flatten completely.

Retail: $34,799
As driven: $39,399

*Will it get you laid?

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