Ford's Planning to Make Its Largest SUVs Greener (and Its Smallest a Lot Greener): Report

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
fords planning to make its largest suvs greener and its smallest a lot greener

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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  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Aug 28, 2017

    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.

  • Schild1987 Schild1987 on Aug 28, 2017

    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.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.