There's still a chance to buy a Ford Escape Hybrid, but you'll have to hurry--the 2012 model year will be the last for the gas-electric version of the Escape, which gets a full redesign in the 2013 model year but soldiers on as a gas-only model.
The Escape Hybrid still has much to recommend it for families, starting with its exceptional fuel economy. The combination of a small gas engine with 153 horsepower, and a set of batteries and electric motors, earns the Escape Hybrid an EPA rating of 34/31 mpg, the highest gas mileage of any crossover vehicle currently on sale. Even inside the numbers, the Escape Hybrid has some neat fuel-saving tricks: it can run on battery power alone to speeds of up to 25 mph, and has a theoretical range of 40 miles inside those restrictions. When outfitted with optional all-wheel drive, the Escape Hybrid gets a mechanical link to send power to its four wheels, which gives it a bit better all-weather capability than some other crossover hybrids.
In some other ways, the Escape Hybrid is still ahead of its time. Its features list now includes Ford's SYNC system, which enables Bluetooth to control audio and phone systems via voice commands. The Escape Hybrid also has a rearview camera, and a nifty option for parking assist--the car uses cameras and sensors and electric power steering to guide itself into parallel parking spots, with the driver controlling the speed with the brakes.
In many ways, though, the Escape Hybrid feels its age. The basic platform dates back to 2001, and it reveals that maturity in its trucklike styling--it's a dead ringer for the first, beloved Ford Explorer--and in its plasticky but functional interior. The cabin space is fine for a pair of adults in front and children across the back seat, and the usual safety equipment is all standard, but the Escape Hybrid has received some mixed crash-test scores. Wind and engine noise are noticeable, too.
Still, there's nothing as efficient in the class, as of yet. The 2013 Ford Escape will come with small-displacement engines and turbocharging, and Ford's promising fuel economy that could exceed that of the outgoing Hybrid. Meanwhile, it's also prepping a range of electrified hatchbacks--plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars--under the new C-Max family.For an in-depth look at this hybrid SUV, read our most recent full review of the Ford Escape Hybrid.