2005 Ford Escape Hybrid Fwd 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I thought I was going to buy a Toyota Highlander, but after comparing the two wound up with the Escape. This is my first American vehicle and I've been surprisingly happy with it considering how much I've hated some US-made rental cars. The interior controls are comfortingly similar to the Mazda I gave up (probably due to the fact that Escape was originally a joint Ford-Mazda project). The shift between gas and electric is imperceptible unless you're looking at the tach. The CVT and regenerative brakes give the car a slightly different feel than other cars, but not in a bad way. I do a lot of highway driving (24,000 miles a year) and have 6,000 miles in 3 months.
Gas mileage: I get around 30/31 mpg with minimal stop and go driving, 29 mpg on highway road trips. Stop and go driving makes the mileage go up. Traffic jams can be fun! Cargo space: smaller than the Toyota Highlander, but flatter and better for my purposes (traveling with a couple of large dogs).
As mentioned on other reviews, the drivers side seat belt could use a stronger recoil. The interior dome light needs to be further forward for easier access from the front seats. The ignition switch should have a courtesy light. Otherwise it's got all the conveniences that I expect.
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