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#15

in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $14,717 - $17,160
Original MSRP: $29,860 - $34,120
MPG: 34 City / 31 Hwy
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2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Test drivers of the previous Ford Escape Hybrid complained about the sluggish base engine and spongy braking, but those problems were remedied with last year's modifications. The result is a smooth-riding, powerful SUV that test drivers say doesn't even feel like a hybrid. Plus, its more than 30 mpg combined fuel economy is the best in its class.

  • "Many drivers interested in hybrid vehicles expect diminished performance compared to conventionally fueled counterparts, but the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid should satisfy the vast majority of drivers. Under hard acceleration, the Escape Hybrid has the feel of its adequately powered V6 siblings, only with a labored four-cylinder sound." -- Edmunds
  • "As of the 2010 model year, Ford has switched the Escape Hybrid from a belt-driven air conditioning compressor to an electric unit. So, you'll be able to run with AC on and the gasoline engine off." -- Green Car Reports
  • "Basically, the hybrid now feels more like a traditional gas-fueled SUV. It's pretty fun to drive, even if you aren't surrounded by glamour." -- Mother Proof
  • "Capable of seating five adults comfortably, the formerly herky-jerky motion of these SUV hybrids has been handled by a new electronically controlled continuously variable transmission which -- in addition to doing its job -- strives to give the car an artificial feel of driving a normal vehicle in order to alleviate consumer complaints." -- Automobile.com

Acceleration and Power

With a 153-horsepower gasoline engine and 94-horsepower electric motor, the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid pumps out more-than-adequate acceleration. Its 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine transitions smoothly between electric and gasoline power -- a big plus for a hybrid vehicle.

According to the EPA, AWD models achieve 30/27 mpg city/highway, while FWD models achieve 34/31 -- the best combined fuel economy of any SUV on the market. Note that the more affordable GMC Terrain and its Chevrolet Equinox platform-mate actually beat the Escape Hybrid's rating in highway driving with their 32 mpg ratings. Plus, they’ll save you about $5,000 and $7,000, respectively, as compared to the Escape’s starting price. However, their 22 mpg city ratings don’t even come close to the Escape Hybrid's.

Another fuel-efficient option that will save you even more money is the Hyundai Tucson. With a projected 23/31 city/highway rating, it matches the Escape Hybrid on the highway, but still can’t touch it in the city. However, that may not matter to you because the Tucson starts at a whopping $11,000 less than the Escape Hybrid.

  • "As with all hybrids, the Escape features an auto-stop feature, which shuts off the engine when you come to a stop to save fuel. Notably, this didn't work in previous Escapes if you had the air-conditioning on. However, this year's Escape now has electrically driven air-conditioning, thereby enhancing auto-stop functionality as well as allowing cool air to flow even if the engine is stopped." -- Edmunds
  • "Capable of seating five adults comfortably, the formerly herky-jerky motion of these SUV hybrids has been handled by a new electronically controlled continuously variable transmission which -- in addition to doing its job -- strives to give the car an artificial feel of driving a normal vehicle in order to alleviate consumer complaints." -- Automobile.com
  • "My tester had plenty of zip for freeway merges and passing, even with the vehicle loaded with kids and stuff." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • "Total system horsepower is 177, but in an impromptu drag race between a Hybrid and a V-6 Escape, the Hybrid took the V-6 off the line - and held a slight lead until about 40 mph. Since hybrids make the most sense in low-speed city traffic, that's the speed range that really matters." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Especially impressive was the fact the test SUV had smooth transitions between electric power and gas engine power, thanks to a new engine processor. I didn't experience any of the stumbling, almost-going-to-stall feeling that some gas-electric hybrids have in these situations." -- Associated Press
  • "Smooth on start up with an acceleration of 0 to 60 in less than 10 seconds possible, the car doesn't lag behind in power either." -- Automobile.com

Handling and Braking

Thanks to improvements in 2009, the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid handles quite well -- even as well as its conventional competitors. However, its long braking distances are a notable drawback.

  • "The ride quality is fine for vehicles in this class, but the added 300 pounds from the hybrid drivetrain and batteries tends to add some body roll and reduce some of the car's agility. Though braking distances are poor, the brake pedal has a solid feel to it, though some drivers may find it a bit touchy until they get more time behind the wheel." -- Edmunds
  • "Ride and handling are similar to those of the gasoline-only Escape, on par with that of others in this class, such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. The Escape is very quiet at highway speeds, though -- more so than competitors I have tested." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • "Until the 2009 models, the system used on the Escape never had the capability to do traction or stability control even though these functions have been standard on conventional Escapes for several years. That oversight has been corrected now and I was able to try out on a slippery dirt road on the rain soaked spring day that we drove the new models." -- Autoblog Green
  • "A new electric power steering system requires less effort from the driver to keep the vehicle headed straight on slanted roads or in steady side winds." -- Kelley Blue Book

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