3rd Leg: 2013 Ford Escape SE 4WD 1.6L EcoBoost

Discounting the two not-for-sale prototypes that were included in AJAC’s Eco-Run, the 2013 Ford Escape was the newest vehicle there.  With less than 1,000 km on its odometer, the Escape was not fully broken in yet and fuel economy suffered for it.  Not yet officially rated by the Government of Canada, the Ford Escape achieved a mediocre 7.9 L/100 km in my time with it.  In talking with a few other AJAC members that drove the Escape, none achieved much better than that figure.

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All new for 2013, the Ford Escape features two new turbocharged engines joining the carryover 2.5L naturally aspirated unit.  The vehicle driven for the Eco-Run was the SE 4WD Escape equipped with the all-new 1.6L 178-hp turbocharged four-cylinder unit.  Paired to a six-speed automatic, the 1,657 kg Escape SE sends power to all four wheels, which hurt the observed fuel economy to a degree.

Inside the new Escape, the interior is squarer then the curvaceous new exterior lets on, which is a good thing as many consumers appreciated the old Escape’s boxy shape.  The front seats are comfortable but I found the radio and HVAC controls took some getting used to.  Although a point of controversy, I quite like the two-tone interior and found it to be refreshing as opposed to infuriating.

When merging onto Highway 401 I had to get on throttle momentarily and found there to be good power.  It is noticeably more powerful than the Mazda CX-5 GS I drove even with the extra weight of the all-wheel-drive system.

4th Leg: 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid

During my two-plus-hour drive in the Panamera S Hybrid, I felt like someone who had been locked in a cage and was starving to death while a nice juicy hamburger sat mere inches away from me just out of my reach.  You see, I had the Panamera S Hybrid during the dreaded East Toronto–to–Oakville run using the painfully congested Dundas Street exclusively.  When all was said and done, I obtained a pedestrian 20 km/h average speed and achieved 9.7 L/100 km in the hybrid Porsche, which on the surface may seem poor since the Panamera achieves 7.1 L/100 km in the combined European cycle.  However, on two separate runs that did not include extensive crawling through traffic, the Panamera achieved an astounding 6.8 L/100 km.  Remember, this is a 1,980-kg sport sedan that features a powertrain equipped with both a supercharger and an electric motor.

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At the heart of this behemoth Porsche lies the 3.0L supercharged V6 found in a range of Audi products like the S4 and A6. Unlike in the Audi, this engine is fused together with an electric motor that brings total output to 380 hp and a whopping 580 lb-ft of torque.  All of this power is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic.  At one intersection I did find myself in the wrong lane and had to give a squirt of throttle to merge over in time.  The way the power comes on is more akin to thrust then throttle; in a quick whoosh I was hustling through the intersection at arrest-me speeds.

Inside, the front seats nicely hug you, but do not feature the usual luxury-car array of electric adjustments.  The gauge cluster looks great and the interior has an overall aura of feeling expensive.  It is not all good news inside the Panamera, though, as the stereo is infuriating.  To use a USB or Bluetooth audio source, you need to access the Disc (CD) screen.  But the Disc screen cannot be accessed without a CD in the CD player.  If someone disables these inputs, you are out of luck without a CD.  If I want to listen to Bluetooth audio, why would I have a CD with me?  Oh well.

The biggest surprise for me in this plus-sized Porsche though is how early and how often it will shut down the gasoline engine.  Lift off the gas and the engine will shut down immediately.  Gently reapply the gas and you can cruise on battery power for long periods of time.  In the 2 hours I was driving the vehicle I would wager I spent 30 minutes in pure EV mode and another 30 minutes with the engine off while sitting at red lights.  If you need a super sedan as much as you care for the environment, here is your ride.

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