on Monday that Ford was putting the final touches on its next generation Escape
Hybrid for the 2006 L.A. Auto Show. Ford has now officially announced the
compact SUV along with its conventional gasoline-engined brothers.
Overall, the Escape is mostly a "refresh" instead
of a substantial revamp. The vehicle still rides on the same platform as before
(featuring the same 103" wheelbase), but now has a thoroughly modern
interior, reductions to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) and new
speed-sensitive Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS).
Sadly, Ford didn't make many improvements in the powertrain.
The 2.3 liter inline-4 and 3.0 liter V6 carryover intact as does the hybrid
system. The only changes made to the hybrid system include some software tweaks
to make the transition between electric and gasoline modes more transparent.
The Escape Hybrid is a "full hybrid" meaning that
it can run on full electric power or in tandem with the gasoline engine. The
vehicle's 133HP gasoline engine is paired with a 70 kw electric motor which
helps boost city fuel economy by 75% over the V6 powered model. Power is routed
through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).