The Ford Escape Hybrid was not only the first U.S.-built hybrid electric vehicle, it was also the first hybrid sport-utility vehicle--or crossover, if you prefer.
It's had a good run, starting in the fall of 2004 and continuing through the 2012 model year. As of the end of September, Ford has sold 110,000 Escape Hybrids, along with 12,000 related vehicles under the Mercury and Mazda badges
But all good things must come to an end, apparently. This will be the last year for the Escape Hybrid; after 2012, it will be replaced with the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, a five-seat small minivan that will not offer an all-wheel drive option as the Escape Hybrid did.
Ford C-Max Hybrid, first revealed at the 2011 Detroit Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
We had a feeling this would be the case in June, when we published a plea for Ford to retain the only mechanical all-wheel drive hybrid on the market (smaller than the full-size truck-based sport utilities from Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac, anyhow).
But for hybrid family hauling, as of next year, it'll be the C-Max or nothing.
So what's the moral of the story? Simple.
If you want a Ford Escape Hybrid, you have only several months left to buy one new. Ford assures us there are 2012 Escape Hybrid models at dealers now, but won't tell us when the new 2013 Ford Escape--which offers several high-MPG options but no hybrid--will go on sale.
The 2013 Ford Escape will be largely based on the Vertrek Concept that the company showed in January at the Detroit Auto Show, and it will continue to offer mechanical all-wheel drive.
2011 Ford Escape HybridEnlarge Photo
So as of 2013, you can have a high-mileage hybrid Ford C-Max or you can have an all-wheel drive Ford Escape. You just can't have both features in the same vehicle.
Buy now, or forever hold your peace.