The 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid AWD comes equipped with an intelligent four-wheel-drive system, which provides additional traction on slippery roads. The fully automatic system delivers traction to the wheels that need it most when it detects slippage.
On the downside, the four-wheel-drive system reduces gas mileage, the primary benefit of the hybrid powerplant. The EPA rates gas mileage for the Ford Escape Hybrid AWD at 29 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while the two-wheel-drive version of the Escape Hybrid gets 34 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway.
For most drivers, the Escape Hybrid's biggest selling point is its powerplant, which combines a 2.3-liter Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine with an electric motor linked to a nickel-metal-hydride battery. The electric motor powers the Escape Hybrid at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, when the gas engine kicks in. The electric motor also provides a boost of power during acceleration and at passing speeds, further improving gas mileage.
Regenerative brakes, a key element of the Escape Hybrid AWD, capture kinetic energy during braking, thereby recharging the battery. In addition, Ford notes that the 2008 Escape Hybrid AWD qualifies as a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle and as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. Both are indications of the Escape Hybrid's low emissions.
Interior features include eco-friendly recycled-material cloth fabrics on the seats. Dual-zone climate control, power windows and door locks, cruise control, and a flow-through center console with a three-tier storage system are among the SUV's other standard features.
While drivers and reviewers give the Escape Hybrid AWD high marks for its efficiency, some express concern over the lack of a stability system, which has become standard equipment on many SUVs. Others note that the Escape Hybrid can be expensive and lacks the precise handling of some gas-powered SUVs, including the standard Escape. However, most agree that the Escape Hybrid AWD provides a comfortable ride and a comfortable, well-equipped interior.