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2012 Ford Escape Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid was new.


Performance: 7.1

The 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid is a smooth-riding SUV, but it isn’t as powerful as gasoline-only SUVs. It does, however, have the highest fuel economy ratings in the class.

  • "Four-cylinder Escape models have better than expected acceleration, even with AWD. ... The transmission is the highlight of this powertrain, providing smooth upshifts and snappy downshifts when needed, regardless of which engine you choose." -- Consumer Guide
  • "While pleasant to drive, the 2012 Ford Escape lacks the mechanical polish and sophistication of newer models from Chevrolet, Honda, Kia, Subaru and Toyota." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

With a 155-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 94-horsepower electric motor, reviewers say the 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid has good acceleration, but is unrefined because of the loud noises it makes. This powertrain is only available with an electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Most shoppers interested in the Escape Hybrid probably won’t mind that it is underpowered compared with gas-only alternatives because it has good fuel economy ratings. According to the EPA, all-wheel-drive models achieve 30/27 mpg city/highway, while front-wheel-drive models achieve 34/31 mpg. These are some of the highest fuel economy ratings in the class.

  • "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
  • "The V6 engine is smoother and quieter than the conventional or hybrid 4-cylinder. The 4-cylinder is especially loud and crude sounding. All Escape engines trail rival 4- and 6-cylinder engines for overall refinement. Wind and road noise are present but are not in significant quantity to be overly bothersome." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid handles pleasantly. However, the Escape Hybrid does weigh more than the gas-only model, which some reviewers say negatively impacts handling and braking distances. Some test drivers think the Escape Hybrid’s outdated brakes are its worst feature. The Escape Hybrid has drum brakes, while competitors have four-wheel disc brakes.

  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Pleasant, given the age of Escape's basic design. Bumps are heard more than they're felt. Some float is noticeable at highway speeds, but it's not bothersome. There's little difference in comfort among the various models." -- Consumer Guide
  • "But it's the Escape's brakes that have it trailing the competition. Where most of them have four-wheel disc brakes, the Escape uses drum brakes in the rear that simply don't have the power or resistance to fade." -- Edmunds

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