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FORD ESCAPE earns 5-STARS, tops TOYOTA and HONDA combined safety and fuel efficiency ratings


* 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner earn government’s top 5-star ratings for front- and side-impact tests - adding to Ford’s leading number of five-star vehicles.

* This fall, Escape and Mariner add a new 171-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with enhanced performance and fuel economy better or equal to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4.

* Escape Hybrid and Mariner Hybrid also achieve five-star crash ratings.

* Ford plans to double hybrid sales in 2009 on the strength of safety ratings that out-perform Toyota Prius.

DEARBORN, Mich.- The 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner compact sport utility vehicles added to Ford’s leading number of top-safety-rated vehicles by earning five stars in each of the government’s crash-worthiness tests. The results top the Toyota RAV-4 and, with the 2009 Escape’s improved fuel efficiency, offer better combined safety and fuel efficiency ratings than the Honda CR-V.

2009 Escape Hybrid and Mariner Hybrid also achieved five-star ratings, the highest possible scores, in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests to outpace the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Toyota Prius. The Escape Hybrid arrived in 2005 as the world’s only hybrid sport utility vehicle and today remains the only sport utility to offer at least 30 mpg city and highway ratings.

“Ford is a leader in safety and fuel economy - not even Toyota or Honda can match the new Escape’s safety and fuel efficiency ratings,” said Susan Cischke, Ford’s senior vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “Ford has more five-star-rated vehicles than any other automaker, and we’ve committed to lead or be at the top of every segment in which we compete in terms of fuel efficiency.”

The 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner feature safety and fuel efficiency upgrades to compete and win in the hotly contested compact sport utility market.

Both models, which went on sale this summer, feature a full array of standard safety equipment, including dual front airbags, headliner mounted side curtain airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, Ford-exclusive AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™) and tire pressure monitoring system.

Ford and Mercury compact SUVs get some of their core strength from selective use of high strength steel in the body structure. The use of high-strength steel in the B-pillars to help protect passengers in front and side impacts is only part of their robust safety profile. The gas and hybrid electric versions share identical safety architecture.

“We’ve devoted many hours to analyzing and developing the body structure, safety belts and air bags of Escape and Mariner for better performance in front and side impact crashes,” said Steve Kozak, chief engineer for safety systems, Ford Motor Company. “We’ve taken our compact SUVs to the next level of safety and have achieved better ratings than fierce competitors such as Toyota.”

Even More Technology Works in Customers’ Favor

Escape and Mariner also can help drivers avoid problems on the road.

The new available SIRIUS® Travel Link™ feature, praised for helping motorists find the cheapest gas, also can help route them around congested, potentially dangerous conditions using the vehicle’s navigation system with real-time traffic information, available in select markets.

SYNC®, Ford’s available hands-free connectivity system for Bluetooth®-enabled phones and digital music players, helps drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel to reduce distractions.

The 2009 Ford and Lincoln Mercury lineup, including the new Escape and Mariner, continues the company’s strong safety record, introducing even more standard safety features to customers.

Key Ford safety technologies include:

* The Safety Canopy® side-curtain air bag rollover protection system is a Ford exclusive feature that helps protect front and rear outboard passengers in both rollovers and side-impact crashes. It is designed to stay inflated for several seconds, as rollover crashes often last much longer than side-impact crashes.

* AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control is the industry’s only electronic stability control system that uses a unique gyroscopic sensor to monitor and help the driver prevent both side-to-side “yaw” and roll motions that may lead to rollovers.

* Personal Safety System®, a suite of seven safety technologies, including dual-stage front air bags for the driver and front-seat passenger, and a front-passenger sensing system. Together, the system helps customize front air-bag deployment levels based on driver seating location, passenger weight and safety belt usage.

* Tire Pressure Monitoring System alerts drivers when tire pressure is low. Properly inflated tires are not only important for safety -- they can also help save gas.

* LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system for installation of child safety seats in vehicles consists of built-in straps and hooks on the safety seat and mating anchor hardware in rear seating positions.

“Safety is a top purchase consideration, second only to fuel efficiency, so Escape’s five-star crash safety ratings and best-in-class highway fuel economy (I-4 manual) are a winning combination,” said Tedros Mengiste, Escape and Mariner marketing manager, Ford Motor Company.

New 2.5-liter I-4 Engine Debuts

The 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner offer a new, 171-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with intake variable cam timing (i-VCT) for enhanced fuel economy and performance.

The 2009 Escape and Mariner’s new engine delivers 20 mpg (city) and 28 mpg (highway) in fuel economy when equipped with the new six-speed transmission, as compared to the previous model’s smaller-displacement 2.3-liter engine and four-speed automatic.

Escape Hybrid and Mercury Hybrid also will feature a version of the new engine that uses the fuel-efficient Atkinson Cycle for combustion.


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