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Ford Escape Hybrid - Driving Tips & Tricks

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,860
This is the place to share drving tips for getting the most out of your Escape hybrid.

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  • We bought a Escape Hybrid about a month ago and have about 700 miles on it so far. But here's the deal: we're getting about 24 mpg overall.

     

    In highway driving, we get close to 40 mpg, but around town, we're only averaging about 15 mpg.

     

    The engine, which is supposed to run on electric until about 25 mph, always kicks in right away - no matter how slowly we accellerate.

     

    We took it into the dealership, and they claim there's nothing wrong - the batteries just need a "break in period."

     

    Is anyone else having this problem? It kind of defeats the purpose of buying a hybrid if we're only going to get 24 mpg.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    quote copyboy1-"The engine, which is supposed to run on electric until about 25 mph, always kicks in right away - no matter how slowly we accellerate."-end quote

     

    If that is true, then you have a problem you can show the dealer. Take it to them and show them that the battery is not kicking in at low MPH like it should. Here are some reviews that mention the "electric only" feature:

     

    "In fact, the Ford Escape Hybrid will be able to go as fast as 25 mph without burning a drop of fuel, albeit for short distances."

     

    "The Escape Hybrid can be driven up to 25 miles on electric power alone, thus using no gasoline and causing no emissions."

     

    One caveat: The "electric only at slow speeds" MIGHT only happen after the truck is warmed up. I do not know that for sure, but I do know that in the Civic Hybrid, the "autostop" feature will not kick in until the engine is warmed up.
  • xcelxcel Posts: 1,025
    Hi Cowboy:

     

    ___To go along with what larsb said, if it is to cold outside, EV mode may not be available either. Autostop in the IMA equipped Honda’s in non-existent below 40 degrees F without some tricks and IIRC, the Prius II didn’t like EV mode much in 32 degree F temps when I test drove one of those almost a year ago. Hopefully a Prius II or Escape HEV owner can add a bit to your troubles if it is indeed trouble.

     

    ___With that, where do you live and in what type of temperatures are you driving in? What the dealership said about the pack needing to be broken in is complete and total BS.

     

    ___Good Luck

     

    ___Wayne R. Gerdes
  • I live in Berkeley, CA, so the temp rarely gets below 40. I don't think that's the problem.

     

    The users guide says that when using max AC, the engine might not go into EV mode, and we have noticed that keeping the heat completely off lets us run on EV mode up to about 15 mph.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,785
    Is there a light that comes on when the AC compressor is engaged? The defrost setting will engage the AC automatically, and would account for the problem.
  • With the AC/Defrost on even the lowest setting, it won't go into EV mode at all. And with the AC/Defrost completely off, we might be able to get it up to 15 mph (accellerating incredibly slowly) before the engine kicks in.
  • cdoldcdold Posts: 34
    "The engine, which is supposed to run on electric until about 25 mph, always kicks in right away - no matter how slowly we accelerate. "

     

    My wife can't accelerate away from a stop without the engine starting. I can. I have gotten up to about 30 before the engine starts, consistently on one stretch of road. Anything resembling an upslope causes the engine to start.

     

    My son was annoyed with my attempts to drive electric only, because it requires a rather slow start. The most sensitive point seems to be about five feet away from dead stop, where the engine normally starts.

     

    I imagine that there's an electric power burst from dead start that is "allowed", and then there is a decision made whether to start the engine or not. Maybe pressing the pedal for a second or two, and then backing off for a moment, letting inertia keep you rolling, and then slowly applying the "gas" will let you stay on electric.

     

    If you can get to 5mph, you can probably get to 25mph, but it's almost worthless on a city street. It works pretty well in a parking lot, wandering around, looking for a space, except that you sneak up on pedestrians while you are in stealth mode.
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    "The engine, which is supposed to run on electric until about 25 mph, always kicks in right away - no matter how slowly we accelerate. "

     

    Part of the problem here is how Ford has publicised this. They oversimplified how the hybrid system works for the digestion of the "enthusiast press" by saying "the vehicle can run electric only up to about 25mph".

     

    A more correct statement would have been something like "Depending on conditions the vehicle will shut down the gasoline engine and run in electric only mode when it is possible for the electric motor to provide the required torque, but it will also take into account other factors, for instance whether the A/C is on, whether the engine is fully warmed up, or whether the battery is sufficiently charged." The reality is for typical driving the gas engine is going to start shortly after you start moving. Don't worry about it. You get a large portion of the energy savings from having the engine not idling at the red light. You should be able, OTOH, to coast down most hills without the engine starting (or at least without it consuming much or any fuel), especially if you are using light braking (helps charge the battery).

     

    Ambient temperatures make a big difference here. Because Ford decided to cool the battery using outside air (Prius and I think Honda get cooling air from the passenger cabin) the Escape may have to start the A/C compressor (and thus the engine) just to keep the battery pack within acceptable temperature range. The system also works hard to keep the catalytic converter up to operating temperature, because when the cat is not hot it doesn't do nearly as good a job of cleaning up the exhaust.

     

    It is certainly possible to stay electric only in a typical urban stop-and-go gridlock type situation where speeds seldom get over 10 mph. My observation is that trip length also plays a major role in the fuel efficiency. With my commute (approx 25-30 minutes) I can get about 27MPG pretty consistently, even with a big hill between me and work. When I go on longer trips, whether they are city or highway driving, the mileage goes up. Shorter, it drops. This should not be a surprise based upon the constraints listed above.
  • xcelxcel Posts: 1,025
    Hi All:

     

    ___The Escape HEV will easily receive 40 mpg with the right driver, conditions, and proper setup. This non-hybrid Ranger XLT is close to the 40 mpg mark in 20 to 30 degree F temps and the Escape HEV is worth even more … In 65 - 85 degree temps, 45 mpg is a slam dunk in either. With the right pilot of course ;-)

     

    http://www.greenhybrid.com/compare/mileage/details.php?cid=380

     

    ___Good Luck

     

    ___Wayne R. Gerdes
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    This goes to the "how do you define your MPG" question. I'm talking about mixed driving over the course of a full tank of fuel. Certainly there are conditions where you can well exceed the EPA but most people's transportation requirements do not stay within the limits that would permit that on a constant basis. For example, when driving my Prius from the gas station to our house I have had the mileage up as high as 70MPG. That's because it's almost completely flat terrain, 35MPH with few stop signs. It's also only a little over a mile, and since the car is already warmed up the engine shuts off for most of the trip. I have yet to manage the same trick in our FEH but I'm still trying :-)
  • xcelxcel Posts: 1,025
    Hi Stevewa:

     

    ___You will have to change something in the setup, technique, or simply slowing down but place that Ranger XLT in your sights and it won’t be long. If you keep trying, you will learn all the tips and tricks as well as use this ability in whatever else you drive ;-)

     

    ___Good Luck

     

    ___Wayne R. Gerdes
  • anng2anng2 Posts: 1
    I have about 2500 miles on my 4 WD Escape Hybrid.

    My mpg has not gone above 24.6 not matter what combination of city/highway driving I have done.

    My dealer contacted Ford about this situation and I was told I had to wait until around 10,000 miles for the engine to "break in". I am going to try to get something in writing from Ford since I paid thousands of extra dollars for this feature. I am only getting 3 mpg more than my 1986 Volvo 240 DL wagon. At this rate, it will take over 40 years for me to realize the savings in gas mileage...

    I can get up to 39 miles per hour going downhill and braking and keep it on the battery. At 40 mph, it kicks into gas.

    My road slows from 55 to 35. I can keep in in electric going up to 35 mph if I slow down to it from a higher speed and I use a very, very light touch on the gas. I find if I accelerate the speed I can't keep it electric past around 10-15 mph.

    My dealer said an engineer drove with an egg under the accelerator pedal and got 50 mpg. He didn't say how many rear end collisions this caused.

    At any rate, I still can get my milege up and I am really trying...
  • The car really is fun to drive around town.

     

    First, I am impressed with the ECV transmission. It is hard to describe. The only word I can think of is "smooth." There is no sense of a shift whatsoever so the car maintains a smooth pull from 0 mph to whatever speed.

     

    Also, you will notice the the near instantaneous torque that you get from an electric engine -- it really feels different from any straight gas car I've driven. And it's not just at low speeds. The electric motor provides some nice kick even on the highway. If you're at 50 mph and want to go to 70, the car will respond instantly with the first response coming from the elctric engine. The gas engine will take some time to rev up and then will jump in after the accleration has started.

     

    Finally -- and this is really cool -- when you release the gas pedal, you will notice in the power meter that the car instantly switches to "regeneration mode" in order to capture the energy from the excess RPMs that a gas engine produces as it slows down.

     

    The power management algorithym (sp?) seems very intelligent - Ford I'm very impressed.
  • zadscmczadscmc Posts: 5
    I have both an Escape hybrid and a Honda Civic Hybrid (HCH) with mt.

    I cannot get used to the CVT on the Escape, it seems like I am always in "passing gear" revving the motor in excess when trying to accelerate. I can get the vehicle to 33-36 mpg in normal traffic but as soon as I need to accelerate modestly I hear the gas slurping out of the tank. (Boy I wish this thing had a bigger gas tank, too.)

    I am by no means a lead foot, does anyone else have this problem?

    -C...
  • stevewastevewa Posts: 203
    It's doing what it's designed to do. When you accelerate it's revving up to its best efficiency and using any extra energy to recharge your battery.

    The Ford and Toyota systems have a completely different design philosophy from Honda.

    My advice is "don't worry just drive and be happy". If you look at your overall efficiency it's unlikely that the higher RPMs are having a sigificant negative impact.
  • cdoldcdold Posts: 34
    " have both an Escape hybrid and a Honda Civic Hybrid (HCH) with mt.

    I cannot get used to the CVT on the Escape, it seems like I am always in "passing gear" "

    I have 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid CVT, and a 2005 Escape Hybrid 4wd.
    Even after having the Honda as a introduction to CVT, the Escape did seem like it was revving too easily. I have 8000 miles on the Escape now, and I have just gotten used to it. I let the computer do the work, based on my "throttle" input.
    (blip the throttle... nada).
    My overall mileage has gone up. I was getting 26.8, and it's now 27.5. No particular change in driving habits or location.
  • I have a 12 month old Escape Hybrid with 13,000 and in November it was like someone flipped a switch. I went from 30+MPG to almost 24 MPG. I asked my local dealer and they haven't a clue. So I emailed Ford Motor Company Customer Relationship Center. They don't seem to know or care. They responded back with a politically correct version of we don't know and go to your local dealer. St Louis is not nearly as cold as you have it. 25F to 55F has been our winter temp. I also noticed that the breaks are not charging the battery until the car warms up. Maybe this has some effect on the MPG.

    Does anyone know where to get real answers about the HEV?
  • I have a 2006 FEH, bought on January 3rd. I'm in Delaware and the ave temp has been between 30-45 most days. I find that until it warms up (I've seen someone write about the catalytic converter warming up), the hybrid drive won't kick on. I've been averaging 27-29 city and even better on highway. But due to the short trips I make, I don't anticipate getting better 'city' mileage until the spring/summer. Is your's the 4wd version? Mine is fwd.

    The brakes don't seem to have anything to do with whether its warmed up or not. It will charge if it is below 50%. The user's manual wrote that the battery likes to stay around 50%. The brakes do depend on how hard you brake. If you brake hard, it bypasses the 'wire' mode and goes into the hydraulic backup, where it doesn't recharge the batteries at all.

    Remember not to keep your air settings on any of the orange defrost or max ac settings or your engine will be always on. Those are engine demand settings. Use them while your engine is warming up and you are driving, them turn them down, the escape cabin warms up very quickly...

    Hope this helps,

    Marcus
  • Hey Marcus,
    Thanks for the response.
    2 weeks ago the Little Green Sprout, I bought the Titianum Green with Appearance Package, came to a complete stop in the Shopping Center parking lot.
    Into the Dealer he went and the trouble codes revealed that the PCM software needed to be updated.
    Several Technical bullitens had come out identifying the problems.
    All went well for a week and now the issues have started again.
    The Electric Motor is to be governed at 1500 RPM when going from electric to gas and mine now jumps back to 2500 even after it has warmed up after 30 kms, which is about 18 miles or so.
    So back to the Dealer he goes on Tuesday next week and we'll see what they have to say about it.
    I never run the interior controls in the "Red" Zone but that's great advice.
    I'll keep everyone posted but anyone else has had the similar type of issues please let me know.

    Cheers from Canada! :shades:
  • I purchased a 2007 Escape Hybrid two weeks ago. I have not gotten over 26 mpg in primarily city driving. When I start off in the morning the hybrid engine seems to be working great. At a stop it is running completely off the electric and is assisting well as we accelerate.

    After about 20 minutes the engine no longer switches to the full electric mode when idling and does not assist the gasoline engine when accelerating from the stop. The usually lasts the rest of the day.

    We have taken it into the dealership several times but they have very little experience with the Hybrid and don't know what if anything is wrong with it. They don't even know if this is normal or not.

    Is anyone else experiencing similar performance from their hybrid?
  • peraltaperalta Posts: 94
    If you are using the aircon or the windshield defogger, then the A/C compressor is running which require power directly from the engine. Honda's and toyota's have electric motor driven A/C's.

    Make sure the AC or the fan is turned off and if things changed.
  • I believe the reason the engine runs when first started is to warm the oil to about 160'F. After that threshold has been reached you are more likely to be able to operate on pure electic motor, provided the AC is not ON, and yur foot is a size 5.
  • bubkisbubkis Posts: 10
    I am very interested in the 2008 FEH. They are in limited supply in the Denver area and I have not been able to test drive one yet. Ultimately I will test drive one. I wanted to know if anyone can comment on the acceleration on steep inclines with the FEH.

    Also, can anyone comment on snow/ice driving with FWD vs AWD assuming I put Snow tires on the the vehicle. The Mileage seems to be considerable better with the FWD. (ie. do I really need AWD??)
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,785
    I just got my FEH last week, 2008 AWD, no nav, no sunroof, most of the other options.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: I always consider traffic behind me when I am doing my "tricks". I do not advocate holding up the normal drivers because I'm trying to squeeze out an extra 1 MPG. I think that we as hybrid owners should consider NOT impeding traffic as part of the "parameters" within which we try to maximize MPG.

    I have noticed a couple of things about how the FEH uses the electric motor.

    1. Upon starting up in the morning, the FEH will run the engine until it is warm. However, if you notice, the vehicle is actually running ONLY on electric propulsion initially. You can tell because while the vehicle is moving, the RPM is steady at around 1400. When the gas engine is propelling the FEH, the RPM guage goes up and down based on useage. The other clue is that the power guage moves over to "assist". The third indication is that I can hear the electric motor whine (very faintly).

    In practice I have found that I can go up to about a mile and 35 MPH without the RPMs increasing. I have found that if I subsequently stop (at a light or anything), the gas engine will then kick in to supply propulsion when I start back up.

    If you stomp on the accelerator (perhaps thinking that the gas engine is running anyway), the RPMs will go up and the vehicle will not be propelled by electric motors.

    2. The FEH is programmed to turn off the engine when the system goes to "Charge" under a set speed (I think around 40 MPH). You can use this knowledge to enhance MPG by lightly tapping on the brake for about 1 second when you are approaching a red light and below 40 MPH. The RPM guage will hover for 1/2 second at 1000, then the motor will quit and the RPM guage will go to "EV". So long as you don't accelerate too hard, the FEH will stay in EV mode. This technique is useful when you would be slowing down anyway, so as to avoid "rushing to a red light".

    The same thing will happen if you simply let off of the accelerator when approaching a red light, but it takes longer for the computer to figure out that you are not going to use the gas pedal again. Basically, it appears to be tied to the "charge" setting - once the computer decides to charge the batteries (because there is no load on the gas engine), it will shut down the gas engine.

    3. On my daily commute, I choose a route that goes down an almost deserted residential street for about a mile, rather than the busy main road (the distances are the same, though the main road is 40 MPH and the residential street is 30). Then I take it easy on the accelerator and can get up to the speed limit of 30 MPH on all electric mode - no engine at all.

    4. I always try and keep my instant MPG meter at 6 bars. I have found that the FEH goes to 2 bars under gas acceleration initially (ZERO bars if you really hit the pedal), but I can get that back to 4 bars above 25 MPH by easing off of the accelerator briefly, and then lightly applying pressure. From that point I can accelerate on up to 40 MPH at 5 or 6 bars. Once at speed I am almost always at 6 bars.

    So far I am getting around 31 City and 30 highway, per the guages. I'm still on my initial "dealer supplied" tank of gas.
  • dhuang2dhuang2 Posts: 15
    The other EASY and QUICK way to improve mpg is use "L" (low gear) instead of "D" as often as possible. I gained 1MPG by using of "L". The drawback of this trick is you have to accommodate the feeling of "dragging" when the gas paddle is released, which is OK with me. And, I found it is easier to stop FEH, too. I personally feel the FEH has weaker braking.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,785
    "The other EASY and QUICK way to improve mpg is use "L" (low gear) instead of "D" as often as possible. "

    Yes, I've read similar comments. I may give it a shot for one tank. However for the moment I'm in the "break-in" period, so I'm just keeping it on D.

    One of my tricks is to release the pedal to cause the instant MPG to go to 6 bars. I'm not sure how well that would work with "L".
  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    A lot of what you have posted was documented by the "early adopters" that bought the FEH in late 2004 early 2005 when it first came out. It is most thoroughly documented on cleanmpg.com. [lots and lots of reference material to read posted there] :D

    It will be interesting to see what changes are observed later this summer as the 2009's hit the street.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,785
    "A lot of what you have posted was documented by the "early adopters" that bought the FEH in late 2004 early 2005 when it first came out."

    Well, a lot of new people don't read that far back, and I think that a validation that the 2008 still works the same has some value...

    I have gone to several other "green" sites, and seen some of these techniques (after I found them myself), but I don't write about anything I haven't tried myself. So far I have not been tempted to try the extreme "tricks". :)
  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    Yeah, some of those tricks are rather extreme. The one that has an almost immediate impact is keeping the tires inflated to approx 40 psi. (but not in the winter when it is not safe). :D
  • I have a 2008 FEH with about 8900 miles.
    Over the last several fillups my RPM indicator never show EV Mode.
    My mileage ranges from 26 (local)-29(highway).
    My concern is I do not appear to be in EV Mode ever. I think my Mileage seems to reflect this.
    Why do I appear to be running on IC engine 100% of the time (even when stopped at lights).
    On only several fillups when my mileage was about 5000 did I get the confidence from the RPM indicator that I was in total EV mode.
    Any thoughts? I haven'y discussed this yet with the dealer & maintenance people.
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