Ford Escape Hybrid

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March 3, 2006 at 12:30 am

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Me and the (non-hybrid) Ford Escape we rented in Washington, D.C. last October

If you watched the Superbowl, or at least viewed the Superbowl commercials online, you probably saw the “” Ford Escape Hybrid ad with Kermit the Frog. There’s a cute

of the making of the commercial, narrated by Kermit, that’s posted on Ford’s website.

This evening, Justin and I spec’d out my new

and put in a price negotiation request with USAA.

Whatever price they come back with is honored by the dealer for no longer than 72 hours.

So, I may be very close to at least putting in an order for my first new vehicle in 14 years, if not buying it and taking delivery of it anytime soon. I’m thinking San Antonio is not exactly a hotbed of hybrid purchases, since I have yet to see a single hybrid on the road, though I know a few are out there (like my former co-worker’s Honda Civic Hybrid that’s broken 50mpg a time or two!) We don’t anticipate any real new car savings, due to the limited stock of hybrids (particularly Ford’s) in the USA/South Texas, and the fact that dealers know if you’re even considering a hybrid at this point, you’re probably pretty well set on it.

Friends and family know that I’ve been vacillating for at least a year on what I wanted to purchase to replace my beloved and still highly reliable ‘92 Toyota Corolla. She’s a wonderful car, and she still has a lot of life left in her, which is why we’ll be keeping her as our “utility vehicle”; however, she has no airbags (and a frontal

that equates to “Driver Fatality,” something which, while it’s probably made me a better driver, is none-too-comforting), no anti-lock brakes, no headliner (gave up the ghost around the middle of ‘05), no windshield washer reservoir (ditto; she was on her 2nd, which I duct taped. When it failed, I had to pry the reservoir off my fanbelt… again!), a “slow leak” in her A/C system, an annoying case of light but frequent engine pinging (despite nothing being wrong with her when we took her in, twice, for maintenance), shot rear speakers, brakes that squeak and grind (again, with no resolution despite two maintenance trips), and now a severe case of the shakes at 72+ mph.

Needless to say, I’ve been casually contemplating what I wanted my next vehicle to be. Prior to Justin’s purchase of his Ford F-150 Supercrew 4×4 in 2001, I thought my next vehicle might be a Toyota Tacoma 4×4 or Prerunner (same size and height as a 4×4, but without the added cost and upkeep of a 4×4).

I’m still a tomboy at heart, and I love the body styling of the Tacoma’s; and I liked the thought of riding up higher — more at eye-level with the rest of humanity here in Texas who lives in pickups, #(!*@~$ Hummer’s, and conversion vans.

I still like the notion of a height advantage over my Corolla; indeed, I think about it every time I get into traffic and have some huge-ass pickup with its foglights on (in perfect weather) park itself just shy of my bumper at a stoplight, blinding me because I’m at eye-level with their beams in my Corolla.

With a perfectly good “workhorse” vehicle already in the family — Justin’s aforementioned F-150 Supercrew — my dreams of a Tacoma were, at first, displaced with visions of a VW Bug (for coolness factor, maneuverability, gas mileage, and stock iPod integration) or a VW Passat (practical like my Corolla, but sportier and with a decidedly “BMW” type look to it. Chic, vs. just cool.) But I kept making silly comments like, “I’d LOVE a VW Bug/Passat, if you could just get a tasteful lift-kit for it so you’re at truck height.”

Obviously, that’s never-gonna-happen, and thank goodness for that, but it underscored my issue — part of increasing my sense of safety equates to not riding so close to the ground, apparently.

So, damn, I need an SUV?

I’ve never though of myself as an SUV gal, and I just couldn’t picture myself driving a Ford Explorer or the like. Early last year, though, I started seeing more Ford Escapes (and Mazda Tributes, and

which share the same body style) on the roadways, and an infatuation began. Yes, they’re SUVs, but they’re small enough to fit in our garage next to Justin’s F-150 — it’ll be a little tight, but it’ll fit — and they still have a “sporty” feel to them. They offer flexibility that a sedan does not, such as a lot more cargo space for grocery shopping and visits to the garden center or Lowe’s/Home Depot, yet their size doesn’t negate all the nimbleness one gets used to when driving a small to midsize sedan. And they aren’t over-styled, like the Nissan Xterra, which to me seems like it’s “trying too hard” to give off that cool/adventurous/versatile vibe.

So, I thought I was prettty well decided, and settled on the Ford Escape (conventional gas engine model), but still had no plans to replace my Toyota Corolla until Justin’s truck was paid off — that happened in late 2004.

While I’d read a little about hybrid vehicles, like most people I still thought hybrids were ugly, underpowered, and/or undersized vehicles. At some point, though, I discovered the Ford Escape was available as a hybrid. The infatuation turned to love — a vehicle that meets all my needs AND is “Earth-friendlier” (burns fewer dinosaurs :)) … How cool is that?!

But it couldn’t be that simple, right? Right. My brother and father both bought Ford Mustang’s (Dad got the GT) in 2005, causing the pendulum to swing all the way to sports cars. For awhile, even Justin was jazzed that my next vehicle was going to be a Ford Mustang GT.

I still find that too long a gaze at either ‘Stang causes my internal car-buying pendulum to be pulled back to sports cars, and I suspect that’s just the effect Mustangs have on the adult brain and psyche. C’est la vie!

Practically-speaking, however, I’d probably get in trouble in a Mustang (one

is enough, thankyouverymuch,) and it really doesn’t offer the kind of gas mileage I’m comfortable with — my Corolla has spoiled me after all these years (and Justin’s pickup needs something to help offset its crap-tacular mileage.) So even though in some ways I feel like I’m always the one buying the “practical, responsible” vehicle in my immediate family, a hybrid SUV at least feels like a nice middle-ground. A hybrid SUV isn’t exactly the most cost-effective or environmentally-friendly of choices (eg. I could be getting a hybrid sedan, rather than a hybrid SUV!), but it beats most of the other new vehicles on the road in both categories while meeting my desire to ride higher, safer and economically, given the increase in vehicle size and carrying capacity. Besides, I have a hard time imagining taking a gorgeous Mustang GT over the rutted gravel roads that lead to some of our favorite camping, hiking and mountain biking locales, whereas the Escape will look right at home in that environment!

“The 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid SUV can drive 400 miles on a 15-gallon tank of gas.” — HowStuffWorks.com

For more information:

on Wikipedia

, I hope you can handle a vehicle in the family sharing your gorgeous , because that is what my heart is set on if my Ford Escape Hybrid comes through as I’ve spec’d it out.

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