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2009 Ford Escape Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid was new.


Performance: 7.3

Most of test drivers' complaints about the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid -- most notably a sluggish base engine and spongy braking -- have been remedied with this year's modifications.

  • "Basically, the hybrid now feels more like a traditional gas-fueled SUV. It's pretty fun to drive, even if you aren't surrounded by glamour." -- Mother Proof
  • "Driving away the updated models felt quieter and more solid than the older units which almost sounded tinny by comparison. The difference in the level of refinement was actually rather startling." -- Autoblog Green
  • "Gas savings aside, this Escape might be a hybrid, but it doesn't drive like one. You get the performance of a Ford Escape equipped with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine together with the gas-sipping advantages of a hybrid." -- Auto USA
  • "While most of the hybrid technology is carryover, the system has been heavily refined, specifically the system's processor and brake sensor, resulting in much smoother application and switching, eliminating the shudder noticed in previous years when the vehicle shifted between electric and gasoline engines." -- Car Gurus

Acceleration and Power

Thanks to powertrain improvements, the 2009 Escape Hybrid pumps out more-than-adequate acceleration. The 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine is replaced by a 2.5-liter that transitions much more smoothly between electric and gas power. According to the EPA, the FWD model should net 34/31 mpg city/highway, while AWD models net 29/27 -- the best fuel economy of any SUV on the market.

  • "Total system horsepower is 177, but in an impromptu drag race between a Hybrid and a V-6 Escape, the Hybrid took the V-6 off the line - and held a slight lead until about 40 mph. Since hybrids make the most sense in low-speed city traffic, that's the speed range that really matters." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Especially impressive was the fact the test SUV had smooth transitions between electric power and gas engine power, thanks to a new engine processor. I didn't experience any of the stumbling, almost-going-to-stall feeling that some gas-electric hybrids have in these situations." -- Associated Press
  • "Ease into the driver's seat covered with eco-fabric (made from 100 percent recycled material), turn the key and enjoy the silence. This is the beauty of the hybrid. And for 2009, this silence from the electric motor is possible up to a speed of 40 mph - up from 30 mph for 2008 models -- before the gas engine kicks in. And when it does, you'll barely notice it." -- Auto USA

Handling and Braking

The 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid experiences major handling improvements thanks to modified steering, a new rear anti-roll bar and an upgraded braking system. A new electronic stability control system is also a welcome addition.

  • "Handling is the best ever in the Escape Hybrid because engineers installed a new stabilizer bar in the rear and retuned the suspension for a more refined experience. Passengers still feel some tippiness, though." -- Associated Press
  • "New low-rolling-resistance Michelins wrapped around 16-inch alloys unique to the Hybrid provide excellent road feel and absorb impact quite well through the newly tuned suspension. Standard stability and roll stability control really increase the overall refinement of the ride. However, some have mentioned that the Electronic Power Steering on the Hybrid can at times be a little too powerful." -- Car Gurus
  • "On the hybrid, Ford wanted to eliminate the horrible, spongy actuation for the regenerative brakes so they would feel more in line with regular hydraulic brake systems. In both of these goals Ford has succeeded; in fact, the hybrid's brakes are leaps and bounds better. Before, you could modulate the pedal by entire inches and receive no response; now the brakes react much more conventionally." -- Car and Driver

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