Ford Hybrids Get Points for Green SUVs

By dancurranjr On June 4th, 2009

Mercury Mariner Hybrid 'Presidential Edition'Billed by Ford Motor Co. as the world’s most fuel-efficient sport-utility vehicles, the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid offer a way to “drive green” and save gas without giving up interior space and versatility, says a representative of a local dealership.

“The Mariner and Escape hybrids have all the advantages people expect of SUVs — a high driving position, excellent outward visibility, plenty of cargo room — but their fuel economy is better than you get with many smaller vehicles,” said Barry Almonrode, sales consultant at Bill McCoy Ford Lincoln Mercury of Muncie.

While most cars achieve their best gas mileage on the highway, the Escape and Mariner hybrids get their best economy in the city, so they are most beneficial to those who run many errands in town or commute in traffic, he said.

“Even if you drive a small car, your fuel economy can drop to the low 20s if most of your trips are in stop-and-go conditions,” Almonrode explained. “In comparison, the Mariner and Escape hybrids are rated at 34 miles per gallon in the city.”

While Ford’s hybrid SUVs include several technologies not used on conventional vehicles, such as two-mode, gas/electric powertrains and regenerative brakes, these hybrid functions are controlled automatically, so there’s nothing special the driver needs to do, the company says.

“Orchestrating many of the functions is the job of the Vehicle System Controller,” Ford says on its Web site. “Among other things, it shuts the engine down during coasting and at stoplights to save fuel, converts the electric motor to a generator during braking to help recharge the battery pack, and helps manage powertrain-related functions.”

To test the ability of its hybrid SUVs to save gas and perform reliably under severe conditions, Ford has supplied Escape Hybrids to several New York City taxicab operators.

“With hundreds of thousands of miles accumulated over the past two years in New York City, there has been an estimated fuel savings of $250,000 for the initial fleet of 18 Escape Hybrid taxis,” the company said in a news release. “Now there are 288 Escape Hybrids in taxi service throughout the city, and drivers are reporting that the hybrids are delivering on the durability requirements and fuel-saving advantages that make them a great choice for taxi use.”

The Mariner and Escape hybrids both have 153-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines, 94-horsepower electric motors, 330-volt batteries and electronically controlled, continuously variable transmissions.

Other standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, Sirius satellite radio and Ford’s “SYNC” system, which provides for hands-free control of the audio system and a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone.

Many people who buy an Escape Hybrid or Mariner Hybrid on or before September 30, 2009, will qualify for a $1,500 federal tax credit, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site (

Because the tax credit is scheduled to phase out as manufacturers sell more of each hybrid model, the credit on the Escape and Mariner hybrids will drop to $750 on October 1, 2009, the agency reports.

SOURCE: Star Press

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