2009 Ford Escape Hybrid SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Ford Escape Hybrid Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 177 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 34/31 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

  • Offering maximum fuel efficiency with a minimum of compromises, the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid allows you to do right by the planet while enjoying the day-to-day convenience of a compact SUV.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Surprisingly powerful hybrid drivetrain, gets 30 mpg in the real world, comfortable and roomy interior.

  • Cons

    Pricey for its size, noisy under hard acceleration, fussy rear-seat-folding process, handling not as sporty as some rivals, disappointing braking performance.

  • What's New for 2009

    A slightly larger, more powerful engine, the addition of stability control and the debut of Ford's Sync system (which allows voice commands to a cell phone, audio system and navigation system) highlight the tweaks made to the Ford Escape Hybrid for 2009. Other changes include the addition of a Limited trim level, the adoption of a capless fuel-filler system and ambient cabin lighting.

Full 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid Review

What's New for 2009

A slightly larger, more powerful engine, the addition of stability control and the debut of Ford's Sync system (which allows voice commands to a cell phone, audio system and navigation system) highlight the tweaks made to the Ford Escape Hybrid for 2009. Other changes include the addition of a Limited trim level, the adoption of a capless fuel-filler system and ambient cabin lighting.


Which one of these associations isn't always true? A) Cinnabon = Calories. B) Amy Winehouse = Rehab. C) SUV = Gas Guzzler.

If you picked C, congratulations; you've just won a 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid. OK, so you didn't really win -- this isn't "The Price is Right," after all. But C is the correct answer. The first hybrid SUV to hit the market, the Ford Escape Hybrid is currently the most fuel-efficient ute available, with EPA figures of 34 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. And this is with a slightly larger engine (2.5 liters versus 2.3) for the 2009 Escape Hybrid that makes 20 more horsepower than last year.

Other improvements this year for the Escape include the debut of Ford's Sync voice-interface system, a new processor to smooth out the transition between gas and electric modes, a capless fuel filler, a refined regenerative braking system and the introduction of a Limited trim level for those who want all the luxury with their fuel efficiency. There's also a new Economy mode for the air-conditioner, which allows the gas engine to shut down. Previously, if the A/C was on, the gas engine was on all the time, which obviously hurts the efficiency of a hybrid. One unwelcome change this year is the puzzling fitment of drum brakes to the rear. (Previously, the Escape Hybrid had four-wheel discs.)

As with other "full" hybrids -- the kind that can be propelled up to speeds approaching 30 mph or more solely by their electric motors -- the Escape Hybrid offers surprisingly sprightly acceleration. Thanks to the nature of electric motors (they make peak torque almost immediately) combined with this year's stronger engine, the Escape provides "have your Cinnabon and eat it, too" performance that is more V6-like than inline-4-like.

Although the Ford Escape lineup has enjoyed a respectable reputation in regard to its handling, it was never known for a plush ride. Revisions to the underpinnings this year have improved the latter without giving up much of the former. However, there is a difference in handling capability between the Hybrid and the regular Escape. The Hybrid can feel a little top-heavy when pushed around turns, due to its 300 pounds of additional curb weight. Still, most folks won't notice much of a difference and should be pleased by the Escape Hybrid's ride and handling balance.

Having said all that, consumers who cross-shop the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid with regular compact SUVs, like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, may be disappointed by the Ford's comparatively noisy power delivery, mediocre braking performance and somewhat sluggish dynamics. And given that both of these competitors cost thousands less and are capable of returning average mileage in the mid-20s, there's a case to be made for choosing a traditional gasoline-powered small SUV instead of a more expensive hybrid. However, if you compare the Escape Hybrid to the less refined Saturn Vue Green Line and the more expensive Vue Green Line Two-Mode and Toyota Highlander Hybrid, it becomes a much more attractive candidate.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

A compact SUV, the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid is available in two trim levels, both with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). Standard features on the base version include 16-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a four-speaker CD stereo with an MP3 player input jack and satellite radio, cruise control and full power accessories. Spring for the Limited and you'll also get keypad entry, chrome exterior accents, rear parking assist, the Sync system (which allows voice commands for a cell phone, the audio system and the optional navigation system), leather seating, heated front seats, a sunroof, a six-disc CD changer, a retractable cargo cover, switchable ambient lighting and unique chrome and piano-black cabin accents.

Optional for the Escape Hybrid is a navigation system (with a hybrid energy flow/fuel-consumption display) that comes bundled with an upgraded seven-speaker audio system with an in-dash CD changer. Also available are a sunroof for the base Hybrid and running boards for both versions.

Powertrains and Performance

The Escape Hybrid power plant consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and two electric motors/generators. Their net output is 177 hp and they're mated to what Ford calls a continuously variable transmission, but there's no rotating belt as in a conventional CVT. Instead, the motors work in concert with the gas engine through a planetary gearset to provide seamless power and maximum efficiency. If you're not a car buff, you needn't worry about figuring that out -- as with a regular automatic transmission, all you have to do is move the shift lever to "D" and press the gas pedal.

On AWD Escape Hybrid models, a third electric motor steps in to drive the rear wheels when extra acceleration or traction is needed. It's not a true AWD system, though, so buyers needing a serious snow vehicle will be better served by the regular gasoline-powered Escape.

The front-wheel-drive Escape Hybrid posts impressive mileage ratings of 34 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. The AWD version is rated at 29/27/28.


Antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags with a rollover sensor are standard.

In government crash testing, the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid scored four stars for the driver and five for the passenger (out of five) in frontal crash tests. In side-impact crash tests, the Escape Hybrid scored a perfect five stars for front and rear occupants. In frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the '09 Escape received an "Acceptable" rating (the second-highest on a scale of four). In that agency's side-impact testing, it received a "Good" rating (the highest).

Interior Design and Special Features

The climate and stereo controls have a tidy layout and the instrumentation has an upscale and modern appearance, thanks partly to cool ice-blue nighttime illumination. The Limited model takes it further with chrome and piano-black accents, along with choose-your-color ambient lighting. The available Sync system allows voice commands to your Bluetooth-compatible cell phone, the audio system and the navigation system. Additionally, the Sirius Satellite Link allows you to find current gas prices in the vicinity at the touch of a button.

A new feature this year is the Economy setting for the air-conditioner, which allows the auto-shutoff feature for the gas engine even while the A/C is on (such as when coming up to a red light or when driving in stop-and-go traffic). But unlike a few other hybrids out there, Ford's system won't allow the A/C compressor to run with the gas engine off, so you might have to endure an increase of a degree or two in cabin temperature while waiting at a light.

Even without the Sync system, you'll find the various functions and features easy to use, thanks to intuitive and well-placed controls. The optional large display screen can show the navigation, audio and fuel-economy functions at the same time, without appearing cluttered. The front seats will accommodate adults of all sizes, while the backseat is roomy enough for adults and children, even if its cushions are a bit flat. Note that the standard cloth upholstery is made out of 100 percent recycled material.

There are 28 cubic feet of cargo space behind the 60/40-split rear seats, and you can fold them down to open up 65 cubic feet of capacity, a decent figure for this class. Be forewarned that it's not a one-step process; you must first remove the headrests and flip up the seat bottoms before flipping down the seatbacks.

Driving Impressions

Although the gasoline engine can get noisy during hard acceleration, the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid feels like it's powered by a sprightly V6, while returning outstanding fuel mileage. Ride quality is fine for this class, but handling is a bit of a letdown. With an extra 300 pounds of curb weight compared to a regular Escape, the Hybrid model exhibits more body roll around turns and generally feels less agile than most small SUVs.

The Escape Hybrid's regenerative brakes feel solid enough in everyday driving, but we have to question Ford's decision to fit them with rear drums. In a simulated panic stop from 60 mph, the last Ford Escape we tested with these brakes recorded a dangerously long 154-foot stopping distance -- a good 25 feet longer than expected -- and that was without the Hybrid's added weight.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

09' awd escape hybrid base

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Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

All in all it has been a solid vehicle. No major repairs. Bought used from a dealer 2.5yrs ago w/ 40K. I drive 50K miles/yr for work. In the summer I avg 28-31MPG. In the winter 26-27mpg. Not sure how much cold weather affects mileage, because I let the car warm up in the driveway regulary. Recently my wife started driving and avgs 23-25MPG. Thought something wrong, so I reset the mpg. It went up to 30. I believe the driver has the most impact on MPG.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

108k and still going strong

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Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I purchased my 2009 escape hybrid from my company fleet department. It was driven by a colleague of mine for 99K. I took it to Ford for the 100k service, all it needed was spark plugs, cabin filters and Oil Change! Are you kidding me? She said the hybrids have less wear and tear than a normal ICE (Internal Combustion Engine). Yeah the handling and performance is not of a BMW X5, but how about that reliability! and 33-35MPG that I get consistently. Oh and the 100k service $400 bucks at the dealer. Not bad

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

37 mpg! & great for

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Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I purchase mine used in Nov 2010 and it had 32k miles on it. It was a fleet vehicle which probably means car rental which concerned me a bit, however aside from buying new, used versions are difficult to find. I'm 6'6"and few cars/trucks fit me. For being a compact SUV, this one is just right! At temperatures above 50 deg, I'm averaging around 37mpg in mixed driving. To get to the level I learned to maximize the battery when driving under 40mph as the engine can shutoff and drive under all electric power for a short time. You really have to learn the thresholds as to when the engine will kick in driving under 40 then try to maximize the battery. This will yield higher MPGs.

Disappointing, especially in cold weather

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Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I've had the car for almost three years, and am disappointed. The mileage numbers have never come close to the advertised numbers, and when it's really cold (i.e., less than 0), the MPG plummets to 14 or 15. This is hardly better than our 1997 Ford Explorer. Friends who own Toyota Priuses have also reported lower MPG in the cold, but theirs go down to 30 MPG, from 40. Even when the temperature is "normal," meaning 60 to 70, and I'm doing highway driving the best mileage I've ever gotten out of the car is 27 MPG. In retrospect, I wish I'd bought a non-hybrid and spent a lot less $$.

Why is my gas mileage

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Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I recently purchased a used 2009 escape hybrid 2wd with 42000 miles on it. I think it was probably a fleet car. It's in good shape but I'm only getting 25 miles to the gallon with combined city/hwy driving. And, the gas tank only seems to take 11 gallons when I believe it has a 15 gallon tank. I know it's hot and the aircon has to be on but isn't that still pretty low mileage? Kind of wishing I had bought a new non-hybrid for the same money now. Any info/suggestions would be helpful in making me feel like I made a decent purchase. thanks

Too many issues

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Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I've had too many issues: 1. Steering locking up while driving, had entire column replaced under warranty 2. Rear window leak 3. Missing wiring for heated mirror 4. Busted A/C blend actuator within a year 5. Brakes and rotors needed at 30k, even though the car uses regenerative braking that doesn't even use the pads and rotors above 5mph. 6. Jerky transition to mechanical brakes in rainy weather. Too loose a transition to mechanical brakes in hot/dry weather. 7. Grinding / Rubbing noise when turning sharp left that no one has been able to fix. Just too many issues.

Talk About The 2009 Escape Hybrid

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid Discussions See all Started By

@blackpearlfeh said: Can someone please tell me the status of the intermittent steering lock up on the Escape hybrid? I have a 2008 and it has locked up twice. On mine it occurs when I need to turn...

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid (FEH) and 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid Limited (FEHL)...

I looked it up, and the 2010 Escape hybrid has a 15 gallon tank. The 2010 ICE Escape has a 17.5 gallon tank....

Read more about the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

Gas Mileage


  • 34
  • cty
  • 31
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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