An SUV to love? Ford Escape Hybrid debuts

The Ford Motor Co. kicked off formal production Thursday of a hybrid version of its Escape SUV, the world’s first gas-electric hybrid sports utility vehicle and the first hybrid vehicle produced by an American automaker.

Bill Ford, Ford’s chairman and chief executive, drove the Escape into a roomful of autoworkers at the company’s plant in suburban Kansas City, which will build 20,000 of the vehicles in the 2005 model year. Ford said providing a cleaner-burning, more fuel-efficient vehicle would keep the company competitive as more consumers consider gas prices and pollution when buying a car.

“They don’t want to give up their SUVs, and we don’t think they should have to,” Ford said. “It gets them where they want to go with greater fuel efficiency and much lower emissions.”

The Escape joins the Toyota Prius and the hybrid version of the Honda Civic as the only gas-electric vehicles available.

Company officials said demand for the new Escape, which starts at $26,300, about $3,300 more than the regular Escape, has been huge, with some dealers in California already taking orders and amassing waiting lists of 80 or more people.

That mirrors the success of Honda and Toyota, which announced earlier this week that it would increase production of the Prius to 15,000 a month from the current 10,000. Toyota also plans to release hybrid versions of its Highlander and Lexus RX SUVs.

They better build a few more to keep up with demand.

Wow! A hybrid SUV. So, it might actually be almost as efficient as… what, a great big 1960’s whale of a caddy, now?

My problem with SUVs has never really been their horrible gas mileage, but the fact that there’s entirely too many drivers who can’t handle a regular sized vehicle being responsible for a larger one that decreases their maneuverability and increases the number of blind spots.

Ford said the Escape gets up to 36 miles per gallon in city driving and produces 30 percent fewer emissions than the regular Escape, which is a low-emissions vehicle.

Sweet! Now if they’ll just fix the rollover problems.

Though I suspect that Ford will use this just to balance out an even larger horde of low-mileage cars.

How many caddies got up to 36 miles to the gallon? Anyway, I ain’t going to be buying an SUV.

No way I’m buying one or even looking at one. I’ve had two friends buy Escapes, only to return them under the Lemon Law due to electrical defects (car would die randomly, almost getting one of my friends killed by a tractor-trailer when she lost power on the interstate). Anecdotal, yes, but its stuck in my mind.

I do applaud Ford for producing this, though (and I also applaud D-C for producing the 300C with a Hemi that cuts off cylinders at crusing speed to increase fuel economy)

Ford announces this just days after being chided by the industry for having by far the worst overall ratings for gas efficiency. Coincidence? Let the reader decide.

They designed and greenlighted production of the Escape quite some time ago, so while the timing of this press release may not be a coincidence, the vehicle itself probably is. The vehicle itself is more likely a response to rising gas prices.

They announced this car two years ago, or do you really think car companies can pump out entirely new models using new technology in a matter of days?

Bah… Ugly. I’ll take a 350Z roadster.

And add to that their decreased safety features due to the fact that they are classified as trucks and not cars.

And add to that the fact that they are so large and tall that they make seeing around them a pain in the ass for anyone with a normal-sized car.

No, the reasons to hate SUVs are multitudinous.

And let’s not forget that their bumper height and undercarriage height are at a perfect position to ride over your hood, punch through your windshield, and fucking decapitate you in a collision. Or the fact that SUV’s alone, through their exemption from tougher “car” emissions standards, have destroyed all the progress the US made in a decade of higher standards and lower pollution.

My current complaint about SUVs is more personal - they can’t corner worth a crap. This bothers me because my car handles well, and I constantly must slow down to their garbage scow cornering speed while I’m driving. It screws up my momentum, and I consider myself to have made a mistake when I must power out of a turn that smoothness would have handled better.

Lots of people take corners slower than they should no matter what they drive. I hate people who come to practically a complete stop before turning off a busy street. Apparently some are under the mistaken impression that children are hiden throughout the city, waiting to pop up in front of you like a life and death version of whack-a-mole. Take your damn turn and get out of everyone’s way!

What I hate about SUVs is when some moron spends 45 grand on a 4x4, but will slow down to cross a two-coat painted line in their path like it’s a speed bump. Newsflash, dipsticks, a seam in the pavement won’t hurt your behemoth so there’s no reason to bring traffic to a screaching halt!

They announced this car two years ago, or do you really think car companies can pump out entirely new models using new technology in a matter of days?[/quote]
Yes, I think they can go from zero to new car in a matter of days. :roll:

In any event I don’t believe it is coincidence at all that they make this announcement within days of them getting nailed as the worst offender in the industry. For what it’s worth, this announcement included things that wouldn’t have been available years ago, like you know actual gas mileage and an actual price and stuff.

More power to them, I’m a huge fan of hybrid power systems. Hopefully the sales exceed their expectations and they clean up their otherwise filthy act.