By KBB.com Editors
While the bigger, heavier 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid doesn't deliver all the fuel economy of smaller hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid, it does offer greater utility and capability, especially when outfitted with four-wheel drive. Choosing the Escape Hybrid over a gas-only model will initially cost you more money up front than you'll end up saving at the pump, but you can still feel good about using less gas and spewing fewer pollutants than otherwise-efficient SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.You'll Like This Car If...
The Escape Hybrid delivers a unique combination of hybrid fuel efficiency, SUV utility and a sort of rugged and refined style that's appropriate for both downtowns and campgrounds.You May Not Like This Car If...
Although it recently underwent a major freshening, the 2011 Escape Hybrid still doesn't match the levels of interior refinement offered by many of its small SUV and hybrid competitors.What's New for 2011
The only major change for 2011 is the availability of HD Radio.Driving It Driving Impressions
The Escape Hybrid never feels more environmentally friendly than when it's gliding quietly through a parking lot – or during short bouts of stop-and-go traffic – on electricity alone. Fortunately, when the novelty of all-electric operation wears off, Escape Hybrid owners are left with a perfectly pleasant daily driver. In fact, once you get used to the engine turning off at vehicle stops, the automatic engine restarts and the unique sensations of the continuously variable transmission – all typical hybrid characteristics – the Escape Hybrid transforms into a rather run-of-the-mill SUV, with ride and handling characteristics not significantly different than those of its competitors.Favorite Features
We're always glad for the ability to quickly and easily find the nearest caffeine station.
Active Park Assist
A feature usually found only on super luxury cars, the Escape Hybrid's Active Park Assist uses sonar and the electric power steering unit to automatically guide the Escape into an open parallel parking spot. Voice prompts tell the driver when to shift gears and apply power.
The Escape Hybrid's interior uses generous quantities of thick carpeting and laminated glass to help attain a whisper-quiet cabin with greatly reduced highway noise, at least according to Ford. An upright dash, firm seats and clever features like available ambient lighting create a much more contemporary demeanor, but the overall feeling still seems a bit dated when compared with newer compact SUV offerings from Hyundai and Chevrolet. Long gone is Ford's traditional green instrument lighting, replaced by a cool Ice Blue illumination. Many hybrid buyers will appreciate the fact that the Escape Hybrid's seat fabric is constructed of 100-percent recycled material and its foam cushions are manufactured from soy-based, not petroleum based, oil.Exterior
Despite its eco-friendly attitude, the 2011 Escape Hybrid is still unmistakably a member of the bold and boxy Ford truck family. A dramatic front end combines with sleek lines to result in an Escape that's both more rugged and more refined than the earlier versions, yet also exudes an air of sophistication and polish. If not for the unique 16-inch aluminum wheels and "Hybrid" badges, the Escape Hybrid would be difficult to distinguish from the gas-only Escape XLT. The Limited trim adds bright machined aluminum wheels, lower chrome grille extension, chrome liftgate handle, chrome roof-rail inserts and driver's door keyless entry keypad.Notable Standard Equipment
Equipped similarly to the XLT gas-only model, the 2011 Escape Hybrid includes dual-zone climate control, four-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system with auxiliary audio input jack, Ford SYNC communication and entertainment system, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control and 16-inch aluminum wheels. Standard safety equipment includes six airbags and anti-lock brakes (ABS), as well as AdvanceTrac traction control with Roll Stability Control. The Limited trim adds 16-inch bright machined aluminum wheels, chrome exterior and interior accents, a six-disc in-dash CD changer, ambient lighting, leather seating, a power moonroof, the Reverse Sensing System, heated front seats, heated side mirrors and a driver's door keyless entry keypad.Notable Optional Equipment
Some of the Escape Hybrid's more desirable options include DVD navigation with 10GB hard drive music storage, rear view camera, MyKey, Active Park Assist, four-wheel drive, integrated side step bars, remote start, rear seat DVD entertainment system and roof rack crossbars.Under the Hood
As a so-called "full hybrid" the Ford Escape Hybrid is capable of running on battery power alone, at speeds up to about 25 miles per hour. According to Ford, the system delivers zero-to-60-mph acceleration equivalent to that of a 240-horsepower V6. Power is transmitted to the front- or optional four-wheel-drive system via a "gearless" continuously-variable transmission. 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.
2.5-liter in-line 4 Gas/Electric Hybrid Propulsion System
153 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
Electric motor: 94 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
136 pound-feet @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 34/31 (FWD), 30/27 (4WD)
The 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $30,500 and tops out at more than $40,000 when fully equipped with a navigation system, four-wheel drive and other options. Like other hybrids, our Fair Purchase Prices have reflected real-world selling prices in line with the MSRP. For the time being, the Escape's only real challenger is the larger Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which starts close to $36,000, although rumors of new hybrid models from Hyundai and Honda may soon change the compact hybrid SUV landscape. We expect the 2011 Escape Hybrid to retain resale value better than its gasoline counterparts but not as well as the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.