Part of the fun of writing about publishing The Garage is that I get to refuel all that automotive passion from driving all sorts of exciting cars. It really is all about the passion, so what the heck are we doing in a Hybrid? After all, Hybrid vehicles aren’t exactly known for their stirring performance. Or are they? Early Hybrid vehicles were generally bought by back to the earth, Jerry Garcia disciples who generally had the social skills of someone who had consumed just a few too many bags of grass in the early days. The cars were untried, had oddball styling and don’t even think about taking your clubs away for the weekend.
With the price of gas in today’s world, something had to be done to bring the cost benefits of the Hybrid vehicle to the masses. For Ford, that means offering the consumer a range of Hybrid vehicles, including our tester last week, the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid. Now the Hybrid vehicle technology isn’t the only part of the vehicle to make the socially conscious happy. The Escape’s seats are covered in a rugged looking fabric that is constructed of 100% recycled materials, which likely means you’ll be sitting on last month’s pop bottles and Twinkie wrappers. The end result is a comfortable fabric that gives the appearance of being quite durable and is likely easy to keep clean. Fortunately, the kids didn’t manage to spill anything this time around so we didn’t have to test out the stain resistance factor.
Designers took a bit of a chance with the center console by creating a vertically stacked command center. That gamble may not have paid off in this case, as several passengers commented on the quantity of buttons. That said, all these buttons are well marked and intuitively laid out. There just seems to be an overwhelming number of controls in there. Atop this cluster is a new eye level display that could benefit from a bit more of a hood, as bright sunlight can make it a bit tough to read. At the base of the cluster are two of the coolest features on board. Firstly, there is the jack for your MP3 player that should be standard equipment on every car in today’s world. Secondly, one of the joys of a Hybrid is an abundance of electricity. Ford sends some of this juice towards a 110 Volt outlet! One would likely use this for a laptop or other such electronic device.
The front seat armrest storage cubby is a unique 3 part affair
Open the lid and there is a small removable shelf for small items.
Below that is a deep, removable storage bin. It actually took me a few days to figure out that it is removable, as it’s quite big.
Below that is a cavernous storage area that is perfect for those discreet border crossings.
Moving rearward, the Escape has enough width in the back seat that kids number 1 & 2 weren’t bothered by number 3’s booster seat. I actually got in the back seat to play photographer and there is a decent amount of room for 2 adults back there. The leg room is even pretty decent.
Even in a small SUV, cargo carrying ability is the prime objective. Otherwise, you’d be looking at a sedan, wouldn’t you? The Escape has a more than decent size cargo area that passed The Garage’s 3 hockey bag test with flying colours. Of course Dad’s hockey stick has to cross over into the back seat. The separate lifting tailgate glass is a nice touch that makes it easier to load in smaller items.
The interior of the 2008 Ford Escape is definitely one that is well suited to an active family, even one with two little kids and a teenager. Later this week, we’ll tell the tale of how the Escape Hybrid fares on the road.
Update: Jeff from Hybridsuv.com wondered what the Navi system looks like in the Escape dash and Debbie Knights from Ford of Canada came to the rescue with this photo of the system. Thanks Deb!