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2009 Ford Escape Hybrid
Price: $29,305 - $33,385

The 2009 Ford Escape doesn't look much different from the outside. Actually, it doesn't look any different. But there are some important differences are underneath the body.

Both V6 and 4-cylinder Escape engines will get more power and slightly better fuel economy.

Escape Hybrid buyers will get the most crucial benefit, though. Up until now, Escape Hybrids haven't been available with Electronic Stability Control, a computerized system that helps drivers maintain control in abrupt emergency maneuvers. Systems like this have been shown to reduce fatal crashes by about a third.

ESC will be standard equipment on 2009 Escapes Hybrids just as it is now on the non-hybrid versions.

Escape Hybrids are in short supply and demand is high so, even for 2008 models, Ford is spending practically nothing on incentives, according to Edmunds.com. (To be more precise, Ford is spending $43 per SUV.)

Given that, and given the lifesaving importance of ESC, it's more than worth waiting for the 2009 model.

These changes also apply to Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute hybrid SUVs which, for practical purposes, are the same vehicle.

NEXT: 2009 Honda Fit

Last updated August 28 2008: 9:42 AM ET
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