Addicted to novelty since 2001

The Guilt-Free SUV

Not guilt-free, actually, but guilt-reduced. The Ford Escape Hybrid is a hybrid SUV that runs on electricity at low speeds. It apparently does 36 mpg in the city, and up to 48 mpg on the highway. I know nothing about miles-per-gallon, but apparently that’s admirable for an SUV (the conventional Escape apparently does 18/23). Here’s a review:

Not only is Escape the first hybrid SUV, it’s also the first hybrid 4WD. I took the Escape Hybrid 4WD up a steep off-road track, and was quite impressed. The Intelligent 4WD System kept the SUV stable, with very little wheelspin as it found traction. Going downhill was a bit more unusual— the only sounds coming from the vehicle were the gravel crunching under the wheels and the fans cooling the batteries. The gas engine was unneeded so it had shut off—of course that meant engine braking on the steep downhill was not a possibility.

Apparently it’s priced about CAN $5000 above the conventional model, but you can get a provincial tax credit of CAN $1000 and save much of the rest in reduced fuel bills. For financial and environmental reasons, I’ve never bought a new car. If and when I do, it will ideally be an electric car but will at least be a hybrid. It certainly will not be an SUV.

If you must buy a new car, and if it must be an SUV, why not buy one that’s more responsible than the average behemoth?

8 Responses to “The Guilt-Free SUV”

  1. Olaf

    Yeah – the question is: will we have some dire effects from electrical pollution in 50 years? Didn’t living near powerlines decidedly lead to a greater chance of developing cancer? We can’t seem to win, so I say we revert as a society and start walking (you get started, I’ll catch up).

  2. Everything Is In/Flux

    High and Mighty

    It’s interesting that I just read Darren Barefoot’s post about the Escape Hybrid because I was just about to discuss the most recent book that I finished, High And Mighty: The Dangerous Rise of the SUV by Kenneth Bradsher.

    This book was very well …

  3. Mark

    The thing is, the MPG numbers that are being given for hybrid cars like this and the Prius are only marginally better than the numbers that diesel-based cars are already able to get (for example, I just looked up the Ford Galaxy minivan, which is larger and heavier than the Escape, and it gets 28/44.) In addition, owners of the Prius are already finding that the quoted gas milages are not all they are cracked up to be.
    Diesels are now huge in Europe because of the fuel economy, and also because modern diesels can be quiet and fun to drive as they offer masses of torque compared to regular gas engines. Bizarrely, they are now starting to take over in the high-end sedan market too – Audi, BMW and Mercedes are all offering high-end diesels, and Audi even have a V8. But none of these cars are normally made available in North America because they fall foul of California’s emissions regulations (due to particulate emissions – i.e smoke – whose nastiness I do not want to understate, but which the europeans think they have under control.)
    So I am starting to think of hybrids are a completely over-engineered solution to a problem for which cheaper, simpler solutions already exist. Oh well, wouldn’t be the first time.

  4. Norlinda

    I’m still a fan of the electric hybrids. I’m wondering if they’ll ever develop the technology that takes the car beyond the initial 40-50 km/h–that’s when I think the real “savings” will occur.
    What about natural gas versus diesel? Does anyone know what the comparisons are in terms of emissions?

  5. Chunky Ji's Journal

    A ‘Responsible’ SUV….

    Darren Barefoot, a prolific blogger indeed, comments on a review of the gas/electricity hybrid Ford Escape. In city SUVs never really made any sense to me at all, but in the back country – now, thats another story. Where I

  6. Mark

    Hey, just a correction here – the Ford Galaxy number I gave is in imperial gallons, and the Escape figures are almost certainly in US gallons. This is a big difference – 1 usg = 0.83 imperial. So the Galaxy is not nearly as good as I made out – 36 mp(us)g.

  7. Donna

    Apparently diesels are making a comeback and are expected to be pretty popular in the next 3-5 years. About the hybrids…even with the extra $3000US on the price tag, the tax credit (there’s a credit in the US, too), and if you drive 25,000 miles a year like my husband does, it doesn’t make financial sense to buy a hybrid. The motivating factors for buying one should be that you are extremely concerned about the environment or you like having “fancy new toys.” There are some online calculators that can help you assess if buying one is worth it. All signs pointed to no for us.

  8. Augie De Blieck Jr.

    Good luck finding one of these cars, though. They’re allocated badly. I think there’s something like 20,000 being made, so some dealers are only getting 1 or 2 of them in. Many are already bought in advance. It’s a mess. I hear the situation with the Lexus 400H this fall will be even worse.

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