Second, Value: <BR> 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid2. VALUE: ESCAPE Option packages include the Energy, Audiophile and Navigation system package for $1,850, which features an Audiophile audio system, CD-based satellite navigation and a display on the nav system. The same inflation that afflicts the Prius also hampers the 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid. Simply put, it’s hard to talk about value when people are waiting for months to drive home their beauties -– and paying thousands over sticker to do so. Even with that, however, the Escape Hybrid is a solid value -- once a little air is released from the hybrid market –- because it is the only hybrid SUV available for purchase. That will change when the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and its third-row seat shows up in June, but even then –- count on a starting price north of $30,000 for Toyota’s hybrid SUV. That’s a lot of green for seven-passenger seating, and the Ford Escape Hybrid will continue to serve as a solid buy after the debut of the Toyota, depending on what you put in the thing. At its base level, the 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid with front-wheel drive comes in at $26,380, and with all-wheel-drive at $28,005. It comes in one trim level, with options such as leather seating, upgraded stereo, side-curtain airbags, and a navigation system. That’s not far off the $26,365 it costs for the non-hybrid, all-wheel-drive Escape. Standard equipment is the same as that of a regular Escape, including four-wheel antilock brakes, cruise control, carpeted floor mats, front dual vanity mirrors, and rear heating ducts. On the exterior, standard equipment includes molded-in-color front and rear fascias and body side cladding, halogen headlights and step-up bumper, front foglights, and a roof rack with 100-lb. capacity. Other standard equipment includes power windows with driver one-touch down, cloth seats, six-way front driver's seat, manual air conditioning, flip-up liftgate window, front variable intermittent windshield wipers, intermittent rear window wiper/washer, rear window defroster, and tilt steering wheel.
Option packages include the Energy, Audiophile and Navigation system package for $1,850, which features an Audiophile audio system, CD-based satellite navigation and a display on the nav system that shows fuel economy, and how the hybrid powertrain manages the power. There’s also a safety package for $595 that includes side-curtain airbags covering front and rear seating areas. There’s a leather comfort package for $575, an appearance package for $625 (front and side fascias), a MACH audio with 6-disc changer for $565, a 110-volt AC power outlet at $110, a retractable rear cargo cover for $75 and rear carpeted floor mats for $25. Must-have options for the Ford Escape Hybrid include the Energy package for $1,850 and the safety package for $595. That’s an additional $2,445 dollars tacked onto the sticker – making the front-wheel Escape Hybrid’s cost close to $29,000, around $6,000 more than the Prius with side curtain airbags and much better fuel economy. Where the Escape Hybrid is really penalized, however, is in the construction of the vehicle. Exposed screws, clumsy switches and a general level of refinement lacked the sophistication of the Prius and the Accord.