Ford Escape Hybrid Review

Q: What does Bill Cinton drive?

A: (bypassing any number of cheap jokes)A Ford Escape Hybrid.

Barack Obama, according to current campaign coverage, drives one too (though how much time either of those guys actually spends at the wheel is open to protracted debate).

Politics aside, the Escape Hybrid is a very strong candidate for hybrid shoppers. Ford was an early adopter, following the first-gen Toyota Prius and the now-discontinued Honda Insight. They picked the right package to go with...a small, but not toylike, SUV with enough room for most people and most of the things they need to carry on a regular basis.

Getting the gas mileage on even a small SUV past the 22 mpg mark isn't easy...the Escape Hybrid will break 25 without a sweat, and if I'm playing the mileage game (watching the dashboard display and using every eco-driving trick to squeeze out the maximum efficiency of each gallon), I've been able to average 30 miles per gallon in a week's worth of city street and freeway driving.

I've driven four or five Escape Hybrids since they've been on the market, but most recently, I tested one with the lowest trim level, cloth seats and only one option (Ford's innovative new Sync audio system upgraded to include live weather radar, sports scores, movie listings and more). It's easy to get seduced by a fully-loaded car. But when you say "I could own one of these" about a base vehicle, it means the car is, at its core, very, very good.