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Discussion Starter #1
We just did that tonight.

Saw what I thought was an Escape Hybrid from the street when driving by the dealership (Town and Country in Portland, OR), and turns out they had two in stock.

I'll post my impressions after I get a few more miles logged.

Steve

2002 Prius (53K)
2005 Escape Hybrid (0K)
 

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Congratulations. I'd love to hear details as you discover them. Be sure to schedule a little mini vacation up into the snow and let us know how well they did the 4WD.

What did it set you back?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Here's the fun story.

My wife and I were heading home from dinner in our Prius when I noticed a white Escape in front of the showroom that appeared to have the hybrid badging on the side. We decided to circle back and take a look-see to find out the prices, etc.

Mind you we had no intention of purchasing, and would not have purchased a white car in any event. Lo and behold there's a red one inside the showroom! The situation was remarkably similar to our Prius experience, where the dealer had just happened to get a car they had not expected and we were at the right dealer at the right time. Must be serendipity.

Both of the Escapes were similarly equipped, that is "loaded" with just about every option available. In particular:

--Safety Package--side air bags in seats, plus "canopy" side air curtain for both rows of seats
--Appearance Package--Painted Cladding, Fascia, Wheel lip
--Energy Audiophile and Nav system
--Rear Floor Mats
--110v AC power outlet
--Leather seating surfaces and steering wheel
--Retractable Cargo Cover

Sticker price with destination charge was $32,450. We ended up paying a little bit more than that, but not the $2995 "market value adjustment" they wanted. Trade-in was our 2000 Volvo Cross Country. They low-balled us on the Volvo a bit, but we were able to use that to bring them down on the dealer markup. The routine was the classic setup with the intro guy, the "closer" and the "sales manager" followed by the "business manager". Foturnately I'd read the expose on Edmunds.com and knew what was happening (including them probably listening in on our "private" conversation when they were out of the room). Didn't buy any extended warranty or any of the other junk they try to sell, they did not push it hard either. There are no incentives offered on the Hybrid (FWIW they are offering $10K below MSRP on the bigger SUVs right now, which says something about the effect of $2/gallon gas methinks). Salesman said the two cars on their lot were only the second and third ones they've gotten. First one buyer had waited for 4 months.

Now, on to the Escape itself. Today we drove down the Willamette valley to Woodburn from Portland, then from there out to Lincoln City on the coast and back. I made some observations...

1. The front seats are pretty good. Not as good as Volvos but better than the Prius' They are firmer and have slightly better lateral support. I'm still working on getting the adjustment right (a 6-way power seat, without memory or power recline, is standard on the Hybrid). The lumbar support is non adjustable but is pretty good. The driving position is OK, it would be ideal if the steering wheel had tilt and telescope instead of just tilt. Visibility is decent for an SUV but not as good as the Prius in front. The side and rear windows are tinted a bit darker than I like. The controls are more conventional than the Prius by a long-shot. The cluster in front of the wheel is almost "normal" but the temp gauge is replaced with a charge-discharge type indicator for the HV battery. There's a two-line LCD readout in the tachometer where the computer can display messages, and you can bring up info like miles to empty. If you don't have the fancy radio it also displays MPG info. Cruise control is on the steering wheel like most Fords I've seen. The buttons are convenient for thumb operation and I quickly adjusted to the location.

One feature not present I missed is daytime running lights. I've had them on both my Volvos and the Prius and I'm sold on the concept. The standard headlights are excellent however and provide a good pattern. Headlight control is on the turn signal stalk just like in the Prius. The standard foglights are very bright and light up the road surface right in front of the vehicle.

Wipers are on a stalk on the right side, just like in the Prius. Both front and rear wipers are on the same stalk.

The radio/nav system is different from the Prius (I have a 2002 so my reference is the "classic" Prius). The nav is part of the radio head unit. Instead of a DVD under the seat, you put one of 10 CD-ROMs into the single CD slot of the radio head unit. The CDs are for various regions much like in the Prius. When you are not using the single slot for navigation you can play audio CDs in it, but there's also a 6-disk changer (magazine type) under the passenger seat which can be accessed while the car is moving. The Nav CDs will not work in the changer, only in the dash slot. The LCD is not a touch screen. Instead there are descrete buttons for some functions and programmable buttons on the left side of the screen for the rest. Cursor control is with a small joystick to the right of the screen which you push inwards as the "enter" button. The nav system seems reasonably accurate. The nav lady is a little "perkier" than the Prius lady :). The lack of touch screen is most pronounced when inputting names and numbers as you have to use the joystick to select each letter.

The screen has several modes, for audio, mileage (similar to the "consumption" screen on Prius), energy flow (ditto), nav (gives directions only) and map (shows car as a pointer on the map). One nice feature the Prius does not have is you can choose whether to have the map always oriented with North up or have the map move to keep the car always pointing in a forward direction. I think this is nice because different people process visual info differently. I have not yet figured out if its possible to extract latitude and longitude from the nav system, it'd be good to have in the event of an emergency.

As far as the hybrid system goes, it seems very similar to the classic Prius, with a few changes. The 12volt battery is under the hood. Interestingly, Ford has come up with a way to use the 12volt battery to "jump start" the HV battery in the event the HV battery is drained. Very nifty idea. You can get two tries out of the 12volt battery before it would run down too. The shifter is mounted on the floor console like a typical auto trans shifter, it has the same positions as the Prius "engine room telegraph" except "B" has been replaced by "L" (it serves the same function however). The handbrake is a little strange in that it's mounted on the passenger side of the center floor console, so you kind of have to reach over to set or release it. But it is preferable to the silly foot-operated thingy on the Prius. The brakes are discs all around, a nice plus.

The AWD system is similar to that I know from my (ex) Volvo, it's tuned to act as FWD unless the front wheels lose traction. The actuation appears to be electronic, like the Haldex system used in the newer Volvos versus the old "syncro" system with the viscous coupling. This is good news as viscous couplings do wear out over time and they are expensive to replace. Note Ford did not use Toyota's planned system of electric drive only in the rear. My guess is this was simpler to implement.

OK, so how does it drive, you ask? Well, for the most part it feels like a Prius jacked up in the air a few inches and bigger. Responsiveness is very similar, as you'd expect. The brakes are less touchy than in the Prius. Someone compared them to a virtual reality or a simulator, in that the resistance at the pedal is not as "real" feeling as one might like. But the brakes do seem to work just fine. Regen braking works as expected. Handling is not as nimble as the Prius or the Volvo but is better than I remember from my old Explorer (it should be since the Escape is smaller and has 4-wheel independent suspension unlike the Explorer I had). In my regular driving I've not experienced any feelings of instability. The Escapes that have been tested for rollover by NHTSA got a "3" rating.

Mileage? We did a lot of freeway driving and I'd built the average up to about 28MPG by the end of the day (it had very low MPG when we got it, but 148 miles already on the clock). I should have a better idea after another tank of gas. EPA rating for the AWD version is 33 city, 29 hwy.

Build quality appears good. I'd guess these early units got some extra attention. The final assembly was in Kansas City, MO. According to the sticker, 50% of the parts are US/Canada and 20% are Japanese.

That's all I can think of right now, if anyone has any specific questions I'll try to answer them. So far I'm pleased.

Steve
02 Prius (53K)
05 Escape Hybrid (0K)
 

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nav

I know that you can set up the 2004 Navigation to show the map as always north, or to have the map turn and show you as always pointing up. I'll have to check my other computer for a Classic Prius Nav manual to see how to change it to do the same on one of those...
 

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Wow, thanks Steve, that's a great report. Glad to hear they did a good job with their hybrid. Is the 110 V outlet powered from the hybrid side? What's the hybrid battery voltage?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The HV battery pack is stated to be 330v. I am not sure but I suspect the 110v outlet uses a standard 12v-110v inverter. Given the power rating it seems likely. There are also two 12v power ports in the front, one on the floor console and one on the center right of the dash. One is capable of taking a cigar lighter element, the other is not shielded for the heat, I'm not sure which is which (don't smoke so don't care).

One interesting thing I saw while inflating the spare tire (it was at 45psi when the doorjamb calls for 60) is it looks like there's an A/C line to the battery pack. I suspect they've put a small evaporator in the ventilation duct to ensure the battery stays cool...since the airflow for the battery pack comes from outside the vehicle I think they were worried about overheating in extreme conditions. There's also a filter back there that is supposed to be changed at every service (the Escape has a 10K service interval).
 

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The screen size of the Ford Nav system is very small. About 5" diagonal across. The classic Prius was 6" diagonal and the new Prius is 7" diagonal for comparison.

You can change the map orientation of any generation of Prius Nav system by tapping the compass icon on the top left of the screen map.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes the screen is kind of small. I think the reason is that they designed the nav system into the stereo head unit and thusly were limited to the size of a double-high DIN device.

Of course if they had chosen a touch screen many of the buttons could be gotten rid of freeing up more real estate for a bigger screen.

Oh well...
 

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stevewa said:
Yes the screen is kind of small. I think the reason is that they designed the nav system into the stereo head unit and thusly were limited to the size of a double-high DIN device.

Of course if they had chosen a touch screen many of the buttons could be gotten rid of freeing up more real estate for a bigger screen.

Oh well...
eh, the original Japanese Prius (1998-2000 model years) had buttons around the display. Changing to a touch-screen was one of the major updates for the Prius' 2001 model year. Perhaps Ford will follow in the Prius' footsteps in the screen category in the future.
 

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What about instrumentation? Does the Escape provide interesting things like engine speed, motor speed, various temperatures and pressures, amperage in various places, battery state of charge, etc? You mentioned a tach, is it just engine or also the motors? How much resolution in the charge-discharge indicator (does it give numerical amperage)? Does the two-line LCD give temperature or is that gone completely? I'm hoping that increased competition in hybrids will bring instrumentation out as a differentiator.

Thanks for the reports!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The tachometer is for the ICE only. It has a range up to about 5K and it has an "EV" mark below zero. The charge/assist meter is basically like an old-fashioned ammeter they used to put in cars...no scale, just an impression of what's going on at a glance. It does show gradiation however, so it's a valid indicator of how much regen braking you're doing, for instance.

The graphical display does have an energy flow mode much like the original Prius. It's not as entertaining as it's not animated, but it does show energy flow through orange arrows. The battery representation does appear to show charge state of the HV battery. There really isn't much in the way of technical details being supplied to the driver, which we might like but the typical buyer would not know what to do with.

The LCD gives miles (or km) to empty, battery charge state (all it's ever said to me is "normal"), "SPEED CONTROL ON" when the cruise control is active (not just powered on like the Prius), and offers a way to change units and language. It will also give messages like "fuel low" and "service due soon" apparently. I get the impression it can also call out certain fault codes. There is a "System Test" mode that you can run a diagnostic with...it's pretty rudimentary but does appear to test useful things like lamp failure. On cars without the fancy stereo/navigation/energy radio, the 2-line display also provides fuel economy status. No temperature readings that I've been able to find.

One thing to consider is that instrumentation is expensive, relatively speaking. Car makers tend to minimize instruments wherever possible...
 
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Since this seems to be going around elsewhere...

How hard is the car to keep in stealth mode? Is the transition from EV to ICE/EV very noticable?
 

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Anonymous said:
Since this seems to be going around elsewhere...

How hard is the car to keep in stealth mode? Is the transition from EV to ICE/EV very noticable?
Just FYI... this message is from me. I didn't realize you could post logged out!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Anonymous said:
Since this seems to be going around elsewhere...

How hard is the car to keep in stealth mode? Is the transition from EV to ICE/EV very noticable?
Just FYI... this message is from me. I didn't realize you could post logged out!
It's a little harder to keep in stealth than the Prius, but that may be me getting used to the feel of the vehicle. It does seem to be willing to stay in stealth, but if you are coasting into the speed range it seems harder to get it to go there than if you are coming from a stop.

The transition is noticable, but not severe. Again, the feel is very similar to the "classic" Prius.

One downside is that the A/C runs continuously in defrost mode (forcing the ICE to run continuously as well). In the Prius it cycles on and off. Also the Prius doesn't run the A/C in split defrost/floor mode while the Escape does. However, you can use regular A/C mode and keep the humidity in the cabin under control once you have the windows clear. That way you get a little less decrease in efficiency. In fact the Owners manual reccomends this.

So far I've added a locking gas cap (the filler door does not lock), and am looking at the molded vinyl floor mats. Unfortunately the rear cargo plastic tray for the regular Escape does not fit the Hybrid, due to the battery pack. The Ford people at the Hybrid call-in number don't know when one might become available, but the hint was it was not currently planned. I also have to figure out where to put my VHF/UHF amateur radio transceiver...
 
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