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I just started to notice how well my 08 FEH AWD does at holding its location when stopped at a red light going uphill. We have a few hills - not large ones - and if I'm stopped going uphill - I can take my foot off the brake and the car never rolls backwards. Its held its own on every hill I've tried. My other automatics will hold the car if the hill is slight but not on the ones the escape holds.
What you are experiencing is creep-mode. So that the car feels like a normal car, the electric motors are programmed to ease the car forward at a very slow speed - much like any automatic tranny car would do. But, doing this costs you battery power. If you put the brakes on you turn creep mode off and will save you battery power and thus, gas.
It probably isn't good for the motors either to use them to hold hills.
This creep in mode must have to learn how to work, within the first 100 miles of having my vehicle, I almost rolled backwards into someone on a moderate incline when switching from the brakes to the gas.
I actually went out and tested it for awhile on other inclines because Ford was going to fix this problem. I called the dealer, and they said to wait till the first tank of gas was gone, and then the problem would go away.