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2006 Ford Escape

2006 Ford Escape Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

Ford Escape
Ford Escape Interior

Ford's Escape small, front-drive based sport utility launches into 2006 with a heady reminder of its previous year's top honors for going earth friendly. It's sibling Mercury Mariner joins the elite group of gas-electric hybrid vehicles this year.

But with hybrids in short supply as their popularity booms under the weight of escalating gasoline prices, most Escapes and Mariners sold this year are likely to be the traditional gas-powered variety, along with their kissing cousin the gas-only Mazda Tribute.

Following a redesign a year ago, Escape enters 2006 with two new metallic clearcoat exterior paint colors, Titanium Green and Blazing Copper. The upgraded 2.3-liter Duratec engine becomes available for the XLT trim level, one of five along with XLS, XLT Sport and Limited editions. Previous updates include new front and rear fascias, honeycomb grille, new headlamps and fog lamps, and 15-inch or 16-inch aluminium wheels. Among special package amenities: Luxury Comfort with 320-watt Audiophile stereo and six-disc in-dash CD, heated seats, heated side mirrors and reverse sensing on the Limited.

"Green" hybrids get a new Premium package plus Black Clearcoat Metallic as an exterior color choice. Premium adds include: premium leather-trimmed seating, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, a reverse sensing system, nav system and a hybrid energy display, and a 110-volt outlet.

Escapes have been lauded for their roomier interior from the 2005 redo, and dual flip-glass access through the rear lift gate. V-6, 200-horsepower comes standard on XLT Sport and Limited.

Escapes range from about $20 K for a base manual trans gas version to about $28.5 K for the all-wheel-drive hybrid. And unlike regular internal combustion vehicles that coast fuel-wise at higher speeds and burn more during stop and go driving, hybrids are ideal for short-trip, slower city trips where they use and regenerate their electric engines. For someone who decides to bypass traditional and get in line for the hybrid version, it could be worth the wait. Ford says the vehicle can eke out 400 to 500 miles of city driving on a single tank of gas.

Ford Escape at