For 2007, the Ford Escape and Escape Hybrid undergo minor changes. The Escape can be optioned with an XLT Appearance Package of silver metallic fascias, body side cladding and wheel lip mouldings, and 16-inch aluminum wheels; the Hybrid can be customized with a Leather Comfort Group or Premium Package with monochromatic exterior, premium leather-trimmed heated seats, heated mirrors, reverse sensing system, navigation system and hybrid energy flow display with Audiophile stereo, 110-volt power outlet and cargo cover. New Escape exterior colours are Vista Blue, Dune Pearl and Tungsten Grey Metallic.

The Escape is available as the XLS and XLT in front- or all-wheel drive, while the Limited is AWD only; engine choices are a 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine in the XLS, or 3.0-litre V6 in the XLT and Limited. The XLS starts with a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to the four-speed automatic used on the XLT and Limited models. The Hybrid is available as a single trim line in FWD or AWD, and uses the 2.3-litre four-cylinder mated with an electric motor. The sole transmission choice is an electronically-controlled, continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Features on the XLS Manual, which comes only in front-wheel drive, include 15-inch steel wheels, anti-lock brakes, power locks with keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system, 60/40 folding rear seat, CD/MP3 stereo, power windows, tilt column, liftgate with flip-up glass, roof side rails, variable intermittent wipers and two-speed rear wiper.

The XLS with automatic adds 15-inch aluminum wheels and air conditioning.

The XLT adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, premium-grade cloth seats, six-way power driver’s seat, six-CD/MP3 stereo, cruise control, carpeted floor mats, perimeter alarm, fog lamps, privacy glass and roof rail crossbars.

The Limited adds 16-inch bright machined-aluminum wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, leather-trimmed heated seats, leather-wrapped wheel, six-CD/MP3 Audiophile stereo with seven speakers including subwoofer, auto-dimming rearview mirror, cargo cover and storage bin, illuminated vanity mirrors, message centre with compass, keyless entry keypad, power sunroof, and reverse sensing system.

Features on the Hybrid include 16-inch aluminum wheels, electric power-assisted steering, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, cruise control, perimeter alarm, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system, six-way power driver’s seat, premium cloth upholstery, air conditioning, six-CD/MP3 stereo, carpeted floor mats, power windows, fog lamps, privacy glass and black roof side rails.

Named Canada’s best-selling SUV in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005, the Escape is nicely sized, it makes the most of its interior room, and it’s intelligently priced. The four-cylinder tends to be listless and the V6 is a much better choice; the interior is comfortable, if not always up to the fit-and-finish of some of its competitors. The Escape is also sold over at Mazda as the Tribute, but only in gasoline configuration.

The Escape Hybrid is a "full hybrid", meaning that its electric motor teams with a four-cylinder gasoline engine for higher performance, and it’s capable of running on its battery for short periods. Its engine-stop shuts off the gasoline when idling at a light, or when engine load is light enough that the battery is sufficient. It uses regenerative braking to recover and store energy and so doesn’t need to be plugged in. The fuel savings are highest when used in-town, and as with all hybrids, you’ll have to assess your needs and driving habits to decide if the fuel savings will equal the vehicle’s extra purchase price.

The Escape competes in an increasingly crowded market; comparison-shop it to vehicles like the Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox and Kia Sportage.

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