Part II: Driving the Escape Hybrid
1. Relearning to drive?
Many people assume (incorrectly) that hybrids are a magic bullet to fantastic fuel economy. This is false. While you will automatically receive better fuel economy in a hybrid than their conventional counterpart, if you take the time to relearn how to drive, you can make the hybrid technology really work for you, and your pocketbook.
2. How do I get better MPGs?
Plan your trip and your route. It sounds simple, almost remedial, but as I've been driving, I've learned that the slope of the road, the traffic flow, and other elements can play a big part in your mileage. Chose routes where you won't have to vary your speed much, and you're going downhill or over level roads as much as possible.
Don't dilly dally. When you start your car, put it into motion. Don't start the engine, then load her up, go back into the house, etc. Start up the engine and get driving. Couple as many of your errands together as possible, rather than going to three places on three different days, try to go to all three places in one day.
Don't be a leadfoot. Rabbit starting from a stop can eat away at the MPGs and squander a good opportunity for the battery to do some of the "heavy lifting" the engine does.
Donít be a speed demon, going much above 65 tend to eat away at those MPGs.
Don't try to be an electric vehicle. EV mode is great, and it'll give you great MPGs, but that's then. That energy needs to be replenished, and it's most likely going to use the ICE to do it, causing you to get some terrible MPGs later. Use it wisely, and not excessively. It's a hybrid, and that's what makes it effective, when it's in hybrid mode. Now, that's not to say don't use EV mode, quite the contrary, you want to use it, in stop and go traffic, in parking lots, coming home, but don't try to do everything in EV mode all the time; youíre not going to plug it in when you get home. Remember, you're a hybrid, that's two power sources, don't be afraid to use gas once in a while.
Follow the two C's: Coasting and Cruising. Try to coast as much as possible. When you see a red light ahead, let off the pedal and coast all the way in, things like that. (Don't worry about the battery, it charges when you're really driving about, so lay off the brakes unless you need them, allow yourself to coast.) When you start off from a dead stop, use the EV to get you rolling (I generally get to 10-20 mph
before the ICE comes on), and then use the hybrid drive to get you up to cruising speed; don't floor it and don't mosey, then do what you can to stay at that speed for as long as possible.
Don't rush to a red light. If you know the traffic pattern, and you know that you can't hit the next light red, why bother wasting all the fuel and energy rushing up to that stop? Take your time, and save your fuel.
Don't be afraid to be passed by traffic. When you're coasting up to a red light, you'll probably be passed. When you're letting EV mode to get you started, you'll probably be passed. If you're on an expressway, you'll probably want to use a right lane. You'll still get there, and you'll be a lot more fuel efficient getting there.
Use Cruise Control on level surfaces, and manually control your speed in hilly areas. Ford engineers were unable to beat the FE that the Cruise Control in tests on flat roads, but were better off taking control themselves when it came to steep hills, as the CC demands more power than needed. Some people have noticed that L gear and CC isnít as effective as D gear and CC.
If you have the A/N system, use it. Watch your MPGs when you're driving about, and the Energy diagram when you're in stop and go traffic to monitor your battery.
Avoid the Reds. The red dials on your climate controls (AC, Defroster) require the engine to be on at all times. Strangely enough, even at 65 MPH
, youíre more fuel efficient with the windows down and the AC off than the AC on and the windows up.
Minimize braking pressures. Stop slowly as often as you can, it maximizes regnerative braking, saves your breaks, and allows more time for you to slow down and have your engine off.
Keep your tires inflated. 35 PSI.
Some people have even noticed a slight performance boost after getting an oil change.
3. How do I get great MPGs?
Thereís some debate, and some skill involved so one technique may not work for you in your situation.
Over inflate your tires. Many people have noticed improvements when they put even more air in their tires, 40, 45 PSI. (More if you so desire)
in D, you can get the engine to go off (once warmed up) on demand under 40 MPH by using the double tap, or hitting your brakes twice in succession. I have found that I can always get the engine off in D; It's not quite a double tap though as two seperate taps, instead, put some pressure on the brakes, let off some, then reapply the pressure. In other words, if the brakes had a meter, from 0-100, with 0 being no brakes, and 100 being all the way down, press down to 20 or so, let off to 5, then go back to 20. Engines off, EV cruising you go. Now, the double tap will probably take practice, to find what combination works for you and your vehicle to get it ICE off.
The L gear advantage. Shifting from N/D/L positions does not harm the vehicle, the changes are software, not mechanical. L gear can be a tremendous benefit, particularly to city drivers. Essentially itís D with automatic light braking, when you lift your foot off the pedal, youíll slow down immediately. Additionally, the software is more aggressive, when you allow the vehicle to slow down below 40 MPH
, with your foot off the pedal, youíll find the engine goes off almost immediately. With some practice, you can see greater ICE off periods, and use less brakes.
Fake Speed Shifting. A trick to keep your RPMs down (which means better FE) is to use Fake shifts, or letting your foot off the accelerator to allow the engine to rev down for a moment, as if you wanted the vehicle to shift gears. With practice, and careful timing, you can keep the RPMs down and increase your performance.
Double Tapping. In D (Or in L), a way to get the ICE off to go off sooner is by using the double tap. With some practice, by pressing the brakes down under 40 MPH
(Or with the second tap under 40 MPH
) by using the double tap, or hitting your brakes twice. I found that I can always get the engine off in D; It's not quite a double tap though as two separate taps, instead, put some pressure on the brakes, let off some, then reapply the pressure. In other words, if the brakes had a meter, from 0-100, with 0 being no brakes, and 100 being all the way down, press down to 20 or so, let off to 5, then go back to 20, to see ICE off sooner. Additionally, when the battery needs to be recharged, a combination of multple fake shifts causes recharge to occur much faster, meaning you spend less time recharging (and thus avoiding longer periods of poor MPGs)
Actual Shifting. By mixing your gears, some people have seen some great performances by using D to drive, and L to slow down/stop, combining the best of both worlds.
Drafting. Donít do it, itís dangerous. That said, getting behind another vehicle, especially a truck with a large (tall) trailer can shield you from the wind resistance, which is where about 20% of your fuel goes to fighting. A good draft can mean 50/60 MPGs at 60/65 MPH
Forced Auto Stop. See xcel (Wayne) /discuss/members/xcel/
for info about FAS.
4. Why wonít my engine go off?
There may be a number of reasons why your engine wonít go off.
A. Engine has just started up. Regardless of everything, the engine always comes on when you turn the key to start up.
B. You're using a "red". Using a setting that's red on the climate controls, Max AC, Defroster, etc. will keep the engine on.
C. The engine area is cold and/or wet. The ICE will come on to warm the engine components/transfer/converters up to maintain performance and keep damage from occurring.
D. Because the battery is charged and you're spilling off energy. This isn't true, while the Tachometer will show spinning, no fuel is in use, the ICE technically isn't on.
E. Because you pressed down on the pedal. When it determines you need more power from the engine, it will turn it on.
F. Some other reason.
5. How long does it take to warm up/cool down?
Once again, this varies. During the summer it can be 2 minutes or less, while during the winter, as much as 10 minutes. Warmed up, (from driving) it can take 30 seconds or so for ICE off to occur.
It generally takes around 2 hours to cool down back to cold starting.
Keep in mind, once you've got it warmed up, you want to do as much of your driving as possible in this state, because you've got the systems to their efficient temperatures for a great performance. In other words, the longer the trip, the better (or trips, hence the combining of errands tip), while the shorter the trip, the worse your performance may be.
6. How long does it take to break in?
Most people see an increase at about 3000 miles, and some having been seeing further increases at 5000 to 8000 miles. Remember, both the vehicle and you have to break in, so give yourself time.
7. Why does it hiss when I unlock/open a door or a few minutes after?
That's the brakes pressurizing/depressurizing. This is normal.
8. There's this weird noise coming from the back?
If it's a hot day, chances are it's the air conditioner, not yours, but the one for the battery. It likes to be at the same temperature we do, so it has it's own heater/air conditioner. You can see the vents for it in the rear drivers side window.
9. Why is it after it rains, my brakes get all grabby?
Short answer, because you're not using them. Most of your deceleration, outside of stepping hard on the brakes isn't actually braking, it's the regeneration system taking your motion and turning it back into energy to use, which means that your wet brakes don't get a chance to friction dry when you apply light braking pressure (like in a conventional vehicle), which means your brakes are still wet when they are used when stopping. Wet brakes grab hard, hence the grabbyness.
10. I'm slowing down, but my tach is reving up!
This is normal, more or less. This can be as a bleedoff from the battery, as it likes to be 50% charged, and tries to bleedoff energy stored beyond 75% by spinning the engine to use up excess energy. This could also be because it's cold, or some other factor.
11. I've only driven a few miles, why is my tank gauge so far down?
Unlike some other vehicles, the tank gauge (Which is highly inaccurate) goes down fast at first, and then eats up the remainder very slowly. Don't worry, you're not doing anything wrong.
12. Okay, I got the A/N system, where's the 6 CD player? Can I listen to a music CD and use the Nav system?
Under the passenger seat.
Yes, place the nav CD in the dashboard, and place your music CDs in the 6 CD changer under the passenger seat.
13. What can take a bite out of my performance?
Winter can take a 20% performance bite out, AC (And probably Defroster) at low speeds are a 25% decrease, while at 60, are only a 10% decrease, and accessory usage can have an impact as well.
Having flags, or other material outside of the vehicle increases drag, and since about 20% of your fuel goes to fighting wind resistance, that percentage only increases.
Weight can be another factor that decreases performance.
Having low pressure in your tires can also negatively impact the vehicles performance.
If the battery has been depleted, the ICE recharges the battery, resulting in power going to both moving the vehicle and the battery, lowering performance and MPGs.
Heavy accessory usage can also impact performance. Using the headlights, fog lights, windshield wipers, A/N system, the fan on the highest setting, and all three accessory power plugs at once will lower your MPGs. (Don't worry about using them, but don't be surprised if using all them lowers your performance.)
Idling at a stop (or at any time when the ICE would normally be off) with the climate controls at a red setting (Note, climate controls, not heat) will keep the ICE on at that stop, resulting in 0 MPG for as long as you're stopped, eating away at your performance and one of the big hybrid advantages.
Short trips tend to eat away at your performance, as you spend most of your commute just getting the technology warmed up to peak efficiency and little to no time enjoying that peak performance. (However, if you combine lots of short trips, you can overcome this. While stop 1 and 2 may be with a cold engine, stops 3 and beyond are at that efficient warmed up period, which can even out, and increase your overall performance.)