Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

Hybrid SUVs

ford_escape_hybrid_2005.jpg We’re thinking about buying a hybrid SUV.

Sometime this year we’re planning to replace our 1992 Ford Taurus with another vehicle. I’d like something that’s safe (ABS, front and side airbags) and a little bigger than our other car (a 1998 Toyota Camry). A compact SUV seems like the right thing for us, but the mileage is typically only about 22-24 mpg. Luckily, three car manufacturers have announced hybrid SUVs.

Our options seem to be to get the Ford Escape Hybrid which comes out this summer, or wait for the Toyota Highlander Hybrid or the Lexus RX 400h, both due out later this year or early next year.

We test drove a regular gas (non-Hybrid) 2005 Escape yesterday, and much to my chagrin we both really liked it. Even though Ford hasn’t been the most reliable car manufacturer historically, the Escape has good enough reliability so Consumer Reports actually recommends it (subscription required). Based on my past experience with the Taurus, I’m very hesitant to buy a Ford. But we both liked the Escape more than the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V.

My gut says to wait for the hybrid Higlander, since Toyota has been making hybrid cars for a few years now, Toyota is #1 overall for reliability, and the fact that we’ve been so satisfied with our Camry. But if the 9-month waitlist for the Prius is any indication, we might not be able to get our hands on a Highlander for quite some time. Do I really want to keep pumping money into the Taurus for another year?