New Mariner Hybrid: Nice and green

Also sold - in different guises - as the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute, Ford's small hybrid SUVs offer an excellent value.

Stability issues
The Ford Escape offers a tougher, more outdoorsy look at just a slightly lower price than Mariner Hybrid.
2008 Ford Escape Hybrid
Stability issues
Electronic stability control is not available on the hybrid versions of these vehicles. This important safety feature, which helps keep vehicles upright and under control during hard turns and emergency maneuvers, could prevent as much as a third of fatal crashes, according to various studies.

The last-generation Escape, without stability control, tipped up in NHTSA's handling test. Since the new version is entirely different, except for the drivetrain, it's not certain if it will have that problem.

Ford insists they it is working on adding stability control to their hybrid SUVs. The company has publicly committed to having it on all the SUVs it makes by the end of 2009. For now, Ford says, there's a problem in making stability control work with the hybrid vehicle's braking system.

For side-impact protection, side-curtain airbags now come as standard equipment.

Subtle changes

Sound and silence

Easy ride

Inside line

Stability issues

Dollar for dollar
Ford updates two of its classic trucks for 2008. Ford's Escape and the SuperDuty F-450 (more)