Santa Margarita Ford Let Me Drive a Escape Hybrid

Some of you may know that I’m in producing a new show called “24 in the OC” and cruising all over Orange County with a film crew and all of our gear. Since I usually drive around  a small Honda Civic, it was nice of the folks at Santa Margarita Ford to give me a Ford Escape Hybrid to lug all my stuff around for the week. They asked me to drive it and give them a review. The Ford guys are nice but keep in mind Santa Margarita Ford is where I take my personal vehicle for parts & service and SMF has sponsored one of our Linked OC events. Since they are a local South Orange County dealer trying to set themselves a part from others, I’m sure they’re hoping you read this and some day head on in to the dealership. In any case, I’m not being paid to write this and I’m always honest in my reviews-good or bad.

This isn’t the first time the Ford guys have given me a car to test out. Last month I drove the new Taurus SHO and it blew me away with its power and luxury-in spite of being a Ford. Maybe that’s why this time driving the Escape Hybrid felt a little like a let down. It’s what I’d call an in-between size SUV and it didn’t really do much for me. It had decent room in the cargo area for the cameras and other stuff while I used it for work, but it’s not big enough to pile the kids, their surfboards and all their friends in for a trip to Salt Creek (like I so often do).

The other striking difference that I never got used to was the silent engine. I’m not kidding when I say you could literally escape without being heard if you were sneaking away from somewhere because the Escape is so quiet. I’ll say in advance that I recycle, love the ocean and try to do my part in keeping the earth clean. The Escape is Green and eco-friendly and all, but honestly I didn’t like it very much.

By comparison, when I started up the Taurus SHO I have to admit I really liked the sound of the powerful engine roar. Since this Escape was the Hybrid version it gets pretty good gas mileage but didn’t have any guts. When I went up hills with a full load, I had the gas pinned but nothing happened. It was a little underwhelming.

On a positive note, I have been impressed with what Ford (and their dealers) is trying to do by way of transforming the brand. They are working on improving quality and it shows. Technology and listening to what people actually want seems to be top of mind. I see subtle things like the fact that they are trying to empower their dealers to reach out to the community and do things differently than they’ve done in the past. Is it working? Well, the jury is still out but I personally appreciate their efforts. Because if a local South OC Ford dealer can become progressive, embrace social media and change the way they do marketing…then there is hope for all the others who are still waiting just to get in the game.

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