By on August 28, 2017

2018 ford expedition fx4, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Despite festooning its large utility vehicles with the latest and greatest fuel-saving technologies — turbocharging, dual injection, 10-speed automatics — Ford isn’t finished reducing the thirst of its big SUVs.

According to sources with knowledge of the automaker’s product plans, the push for better MPGs includes giving those gas-fueled engines a break once in awhile. Care for an extra motor in your Expedition or Navigator?

Those sources told Automotive News that Ford is planning hybrid variants of those hulking range-toppers. Both Expedition and Navigator receive a long-awaited revamp for 2018, boasting upgraded looks and internals when they go on sale this fall.

The stock Navigator sources its power from a 450-horsepower, 500 lb-ft version of Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, mated to a 10-speed, while all but the highest-trim Expeditions make do with 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque (Expedition Platinums generate 400 hp and 480 lb-ft). Now we’re hearing hybrid variants of both models will arrive sometime in 2019.

That’s not the only segment where Ford plans to go greener. The defunct Escape Hybrid is due to reappear in 2019, the sources claim, along with a gas-electric version of its Lincoln MKC platform mate. Ford broke new ground over a decade ago with the introduction of the Escape Hybrid, then the only gas-electric crossover on the market. It discontinued the model in 2012.

Fast-forward five years and the Escape faces no shortage of hybrid competition in the small crossover class — the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid being the top seller. Nissan recently fielded a hybrid variant of its popular Rogue, and Honda is rumoured to add a gas-electric version of its CR-V to America for 2019. Clearly, coming up short in a niche subset of a red-hot segment isn’t acceptable to Dearborn brass.

The push for a greener utility fleet is all part of the Blue Oval’s expenditure of another type of green — $4.5 billion in electrification development cash. A total of 13 electrified models, including a fuel-sipping Mustang and F-150, should arrive within five years, the company claims. There’s also two “Model E” vehicles on the way. The vehicles, rumored to be a small car and compact crossover, should arrive in 2019 with about 200 miles of electric driving range.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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27 Comments on “Ford’s Planning to Make Its Largest SUVs Greener (and Its Smallest a Lot Greener): Report...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I’m honestly surprised it took this long. Hybrid crossovers seem like a no brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Absolutely. A 20%-30% improvement to fuel economy in a crossover or SUV is far more valuable than a similar improvement in a small car (due to the improvement in total consumption).

      Although I still LOL every time I see a Hybrid Tahoe. It literally has 7 “Hybrid” badges on it. Up to 4 are visible at the same time, depending on where you see the vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The 10′ tall Hybrid across the doors was actually an option and it wasn’t too cheap either. But you needed badges visible from every angle when this came out so that everyone knew you were saving the planet by driving a hybrid and not killing the planet by driving a large SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      All the automakers were fixated on achieving maximum MPGs, which required smaller, more aerodynamic cars, not crossovers. Now no one wants cars, so the automakers are struggling to meet their fleet average fuel economy mandates, so we finally get the hybrid crossovers.

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        True. This is one of the unintended consequences of aiming for maximum mpgs in a 4-passenger car, when the majority of real, immediate environmental benefit would be gained through doing it in larger cars. But it’s less a headline to say “30mpg Expedition!” than it is to say “50mpg Fiesta!” (for example).

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I think a hybrid for the SuperDuty has some potential.

          I mean, for turning “in-town” from 9MPG to 12MPG, say; wouldn’t do much on the freeway, or be any use in an “EV mode”.

          That and the Transit; for work trucks and vans, fuel’s a huge cost, and city driving is horrible on fuel economy.

          Enough hybrid to ease starts and regenerate on braking might be surprisingly cost-effective.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          This is exactly why we should be measuring fuel economy in gallons per 100 miles (just like everyone else in the world does with liters/100 km). The marketing benefit would line up much better with the real-world benefit.

          If your Prius already can do just 2 gal/100 mi (50 mpg), it’s not much of an improvement to get it down to 1.7 (60 mpg). But if your Expedition now requires 6.5 g/100 m (15 mpg), it’s a huge deal to get it all the way down to 4.5 g/100 mi (22 mpg).

    • 0 avatar
      Petra

      It didn’t. Lexus has been building one for a decade or so.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    We’ve been set, for a while, on getting a 4Runner Limited next year (with TRD wheels). But the desire for that Expedition FX4 is getting stronger…regardless of the price (only $20k more than the 4R).

    Back on topic, Ford should have kept the hybrid Escape going. Not that I would have bought one, I mostly preferred the 1st and 2nd generation Escape styling and interior capacity.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I wholeheartedly agree. It should never have left the market. That was lack of foresight by Ford – there is certainly a market for them. Subaru should be on that wagon as well….

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Put a 1.8 liter triple-turbo charged mill in all the SUVs and Pickups.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m not sure why the Ford Escape Hybrid disappeared—well, more than likely it had to do with engineering constraints—but it was a damned good idea. Furthermore, with the demise of the Escape Hybrid as well as the Saturn VUE Hybrid, whose reincarnation as the Chevy Captiva Sport did *not* spawn a hybrid variant…the compact hybrid market was empty until the RAV4 Hybrid debuted a little while ago. There was also the short-lived subcompact Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid.

    Furthermore, I also think technology may have evolved enough to where a full-sized hybrid BOF SUV could have some real potential again. The previous attempts, which included the Escalade, Tahoe, Yukon, Durango and Aspen, were underwhelming.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Unusual for a Ford, the Escape Hybrid actually had a pretty good reputation for long-term ownership experience. I suppose one might argue it was Mazda-based, like all the decent Fords of the past few decades. Still, they might as well have tried to capitalize on its reputation instead of replacing it with the C-Max, which never had the opportunity of building a following by being a badge-engineered Mazda.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        “I suppose one might argue it was Mazda-based, like all the decent Fords of the past few decades.”

        Yeah, that Mazda-based F-Series really saved their @$$.

        Just goes to show ya, the only good Ford is not a Ford.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Tritons were the worst engines foisted on the public since the Vega, and the Ecoboosts are hardly likely to return the sort of indestructibility that makes for truck immortality. Just look at the oil pans.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            I highly doubt immortality of any subsystem, is highly prioritized in any half ton these days. Everything is shaved to the absolute bone, in the name of mpg driven lightweighting, and light/no load “car like” ride and handling.

            3/4ers are closer to what older half tons used to be, as far as thickness of sections and sheets, operational headroom of subsystems, and general suitability for owner accomplished “upfits” and general “messing around with your truck” is concerned. 3/4ers main downside, is they’re stuck with engines and drive trains shared with ever more over the top powered 1 ton duallies.

            Nissan definitely had the right idea with the XD. There is an ever widening gap between hyper optimized and engineered tin can half tons, and the duallies designed to drag race up mountains while hooked up to class 8 loads. Nissan’s execution, or perhaps just timing, may have been a bit off, but with everyone else vacating that very traditionally popular zone, there is bound to be a market for a more traditionally beefed up half ton.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          F-150 excepted, I’d have to agree Mazda did more for Ford than visa versa.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I never understood why there wasn’t a second-generation Escape Hybrid. The first was a d4mn good product, and all the pieces for another one were already in the parts bin.

      Toyota can’t make enough RAV4 hybrids to meet demand, and I’m guessing that helped Ford see its mistake.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The first thing I thought when the RAV-4 Hybrid hit the market was that it would hopefully encourage Ford to bring the Escape Hybrid back. They just alienated too many buyers who wanted a high MPG SUV and not a Hybrid wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Escape Hybrid died because of the C-Max partially due to the fact that for some people their hybrid needs to be a stand alone model for virtue signally purposes. They can’t rely on a little badge to tell the world that they are saving the planet, they need a car that is only available as a Hybrid to ensure that no one misses their good deed. The problem is that the C-Max doesn’t say that I’m an outdoors adventurer like a true SUV so they lost all of those customers.

      Personally I really like our Escape Hybrid and an happy that one will return.

  • avatar
    gasser

    These escape hybrid’s were hugely popular in New York City as taxi cabs. They had two pluses: 1)the mileage was excellent and 2) they held up very well. I have ridden in several of them with 300,000 miles on the original batteries. I would imagine they also helped reduce smog.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    No big surprise to me. We knew the F150 Hybrid was on its way so it was a no brainer to slip those components into the Expedition and Navigator.

    The Escape Hybrid return is also unsurprising, the C-Max just didn’t appeal to those who were primarily looking for a small SUV with good gas mileage, not to virtue signal with a dedicated Hybrid vehicle. The only question is will they find a way to integrate the battery into the passenger compartment like they did with the original Escape. The big lump of a battery in the back of the C-Max, particularly the plug in version killed what little interest I had in the C-Max. Our Escape Hybrid ends up with a nice flat and low cargo area when the seats are folded. I do think about what I’m putting on the battery though, definitely not a place to put something too heavy.

  • avatar
    schild1987

    Awesome. We replaced our ’08 Mariner Hybrid with a ’13 Escape a few months ago. Love the new Escape but really miss the gas mileage the Mariner got. Looking forward to have an option of another hybrid Escape when its time to upgrade.

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