Buying Tip: Is 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Only a Fair-Weather Friend?

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Ford Escape Hybrid Front Quarter

Ford Escape Hybrid Front Quarter

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A few weeks ago, we got a note from reader Laila Folk asking about air conditioning in hybrid cars, specifically the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid. She wrote:

Can you get an answer from Ford Corporation regarding the inclusion of an electric motor driven air compressor for the A/C unit in the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid?

The use of an engine-driven compressor in the 2009 and older models negates any benefit of the electric motor in the hot areas in the southern half of the United States, because the gas engine will always be running with maximum A/C.  Here in Florida,  you can't live without max A/C in traffic.

Well, Laila, we contacted Ford on your behalf, and you should be pleased to know you're in luck.

As of the 2010 model year, Ford has switched the Escape Hybrid from a belt-driven air conditioning compressor to an electric unit. So, you'll be able to run with AC on and the gasoline engine off. (The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, by the way, uses a similar electric AC unit.)

We just spent four days with a 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, and we can confirm that for the earlier model years of Escape Hybrid (2005-2009), the engine does in fact switch on whenever the air conditioning is on.

But that's been fixed for the 2010s, which should now be arriving at local Ford dealers.

Ford added a few more features to the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid as well, including a 911 Assist function in the optional Sync system, which will call local emergency responders through a linked mobile phone if the airbags deploy in your car. (It can be added to some earlier Sync-equipped models as a software upgrade.)

Note for the technically inclined: Ford's 2.5-liter four, as fitted to the Escape Hybrid, still isn't completely beltless (unlike the 1.8-liter engine in the 2010 Toyota Prius). The one remaining belt drives the water pump, which of course isn't needed when the engine switches off.

Bottom Line: Go forth and buy a Ford Escape Hybrid, but make double sure (triple sure?) that you're getting the 2010 model with the electric AC.

The Ford Escape Hybrid is manufactured alongside its Mercury Mariner Hybrid sibling at Ford’s Kansas City plant

The Ford Escape Hybrid is manufactured alongside its Mercury Mariner Hybrid sibling at Ford’s Kansas City plant

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Comments (3)
  1. The vehicle-to-grid communication technology is helping the battery serve as a storage to prevent the costly blackout standing at about $90 to 100bn per year. That means utilities are shedding cost for additional storage facilities and ratepayers are selling electricity for peak hours so that EVs can make more economic sense, as we know.
    It is also in the best interest of electricity utilities that EVs are going mainstream, thereby they need to put in charge stands where needed around highways, major roads with card readers or cell phone tech.

  2. You're doing a disservice to your readers with this line: "but make double sure (triple sure?) that you're getting the 2010 model with the electric AC."
    Sure, it would be lovely to have an all-electric AC system, but I live in a moderate climate with 10 days or so over 100 degrees F, and I've been driving a 2008 Escape Hybrid for nearly two years. If you leave the A/C off of MAX, and leave the ECON button engaged, the gas motor shuts off at stoplights just like always. The system keeps blowing cool air, even with the engine off, for a reasonable period of time because the system is still cool, even with the AC compressor off for the moment. Many ICE-only cars turn off the compressor when you mash the throttle, and I'm sure few people notice.
    Long story short...when you are in 100+ degree weather and stop-and-go traffic, you might not achieve the same fuel economy in a pre-2010 Escape Hybrid that you do in the 2010. But to rule out what has otherwise been a completely brilliant vehicle, because of this nuance, is misguided. I would have to live in a very hot climate indeed to follow your advice. I still average 28-30 mpg in my 4x4 Escape Hybrid. Even in the summer. With the AC on.

  3. We have a 2009 Escape which is a joy to drive and the fun part is watching the fuel economy readout as you try different driving techniques. Here in Canada we tend to use the settings. Distances are in kilometres and temperatures in Celsius. Unfortunately the fuel economy readout shows only ONE significant digit in mode while in the (aaargh!) mode it shows THREE sig figs. Is there any software upgrade that might overcome this shortcoming? Switching back and forth between the two modes seems to indicate that the calculation is truncated rather than rounded. 34.2 miles per US Gallon should be about 6.9 L/100km but the gauge shows simply 6 L/100km. This is a very minor problem but it detracts from a very well designed vehicle.

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