Image: Ford Hybrid Escape
Ford Motor Co. via AP
Four-wheeling the American West in the Ford Hybrid Escape
By contributor
updated 9/4/2004 7:16:08 PM ET 2004-09-04T23:16:08

NOTE: The Escape Hybrid for the journey was supplied by Ford

When Lewis and Clark explored the Missouri River 200 years ago they had no choice but to be low-impact in their passage. The walked, rode horses, and paddled, leaving no trace but their etchings and journals. Today, of course, there are many choices when exploring the American West, but in the spirit of Lewis and Clark we chose the world’s first hybrid SUV, the 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid.

The Escape Hybrid combines near-zero emissions and the fuel economy of a full hybrid-electric powertrain with the go-anywhere capability, toughness and cargo capacity of the Ford Escape, America’s best selling compact SUV.

The Escape Hybrid is the world’s cleanest, most fuel-efficient SUV. On highways it delivers 31 mpg. It produces as little as half the amount of carbon dioxide—a primary “greenhouse gas” resulting from the combustion of any type of carbon-based fuel—compared with a conventional compact SUV. It’s hard to fathom, but the Escape Hybrid produces 99.4 percent fewer emissions than my father’s 1963 Oldsmobile. And more than 85 percent of the vehicle’s parts are recyclable.  We’re driving backwards in time towards the era when all expeditions were off-road, and the only particle emissions came from the campfire.

And the Escape Hybrid is quiet… it purrs like a mountain cat. It’s fueled by unleaded gasoline and never needs to be plugged in for charging – the car charges itself, and is smart enough to know when to switch from gasoline to electricity.

Also, since we’ll be traveling the length of the Missouri, America’s longest river, we need a lot of storage capacity to carry all our gear. We have it, with 65.5 cubic feet of cargo room.

We’ll be tracing, in reverse, the same trails and riverbanks that Lewis and Clark traversed, and many miles remain unchanged from the early 19th century. So we need a four-wheel-drive vehicle tough enough to trundle over dirt and rock, to cross rivers, and climb the mountains, and cruise the highway in comfort.

The 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid is the ideal car to re-discover the Missouri River, to re-live the greatest American adventure, and to experience the western wilderness in a way as close to the original explorations as any car in the world today will allow. The 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid is the ultimate vehicle for our Great Escape down the Mighty Mo’.

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