This is the successor to the Ford Escape currently being sold in our market, but it hasn’t been introduced here yet of course. Still, it would be interesting to look at what new SUVs in the 130 to 160k price ranges might come here, since we have no new SUV models here save for the 2007 Honda CR-V. The X-Trail has just been facelifted again so the replacement second generation X-Trail is nowhere in sight.

Anyway, on to the 2008 Ford Escape after the jump.

The new Escape is once again based on a car platform instead of a truck platform, so that should do well for it’s ride and handling. But a proper truck-like exterior styling is used for that Built Tough image. Trucks should look like trucks. It has a higher beltline now, giving it a buff appearance. On the technical side, it now comes with a speed-sensitive Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPS), which varies assistance according to vehicle speed. This tightens up the steering at highway speeds so the Escape can be controlled better, while assistance is increased at slow speeds to help with parking and other maneuvers.

Like the new Ranger, Ford has put alot of effort in improving the NVH of the new Ford Escape over the old model. The new 2008 Ford Escape is now 12% more quiet on the highway (30.8 sones to 27 sones at 130 kph in the wind tunnel) and 20% more quiet in high velocity crosswinds.

Under the hood there are two gasoline choices – a 2.3 litre inline-4 Duratec and a 3.0 litre V6 Duratec. The 2.3 litre produces 153 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 206Nm of torque at 4,250 rpm. This is paired to either a 4-speed auto or a 5-speed manual. It’s a bit sad that the auto is a 4-speed instead of a 5-speed, as even the Ranger has a 5-speed now. Then again, we don’t know if our region will receive a 5-speed slushbox unit or not. The 3.0 litre V6 Duratec makes 200 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 261Nm of torque at 4,850 rpm, also with a 4-speed auto or 5-speed manual.

The 2008 Ford Escape also has a hybrid variant called the Ford Escape Hybrid. It features a permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor, producing 70 kW at 5,000 rpm and 330V maximum voltage. It’s combustion engine partner is an Atkinson-cycle version of the 2.3 litre inline-4 Duratec, making 133 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 168Nm of torque at 4,250 rpm. This provides for a combined 155 horsepower. At low speeds of up to 40km/h, the Escape Hybrid runs on electric motor only. Like most hybrids, the Ford Escape Hybrid uses a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) gearbox.