We tested the cutting edge 4-door Escape hybrid, the first such vehicle in small SUV history, which combines a 2.3 liter, Double Overhead Cam, 153 horsepower V6 with a 94 horsepower, 70 kilowatt electric motor which runs from a nickel-metal hydride battery. The result is a hybrid powertrain that provides adequate power and gasoline saving, getting 31 miles per gallon on the highway.
The hybrid system also benefits from regenerative braking, which helps recharge the nickel-metal battery whenever the vehicle is under braking. The same 2.3 liter V6 is available without the hybrid feature as the Escape's base engine, while an optional 3 liter V6 is carried over from the 2005 model lineup.
The 2006 Escape is a carryover of the 2005, shown here, and comes with a myriad of standard features including four wheel independent suspension, front stabilizer bar, alloy rims, four wheel disc brakes with A.B.S., a roof rack and rear window wiper and defogger, a 40-60 split bench rear seat, 1-touch power windows, power mirrors, cruise control, a 6-way power driver's seat, and electric power steering.
For the safety minded, there are front airbags with passenger occupant-sensing deactivation, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, rear door child safety locks, child seat anchors, height adjustable headrests, and electronic brakeforce distribution.
From the options list, you can choose a hybrid energy audiophile and navigation system, a 6-disc in dash CD player and stereo receiver, a leather interior, retractable rear cargo cover, or, new for 2006, a power moon roof.
The base price on the 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid is $28,525 while an optioned out Escape could certainly exceed the $30,000 mark.
The Ford Escape, and especially the Escape Hybrid, exhibit the same endearing attributes that made this small SUV a marketplace success when it made its debut 4 years ago. And now with the added technological benefits that come with its hybrid gasoline/electric layout, it will undoubtedly find its way into the hands of those looking for an SUV that is gentler on the environment.