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TEST DRIVE TIME!!!!! (part 2)

We went out Saturday and test drove some stuff.

2020 Ford Escape SE Sport Hybrid AWD VS. Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4
2020 Ford Escape SE Sport Hybrid AWD VS. Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4
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First up (and closest to home) was the Ford. We made a plan to drive the models spec’d with the options we wanted (minus color) in the trim levels we could afford (but failed, more on that in a bit) and the local not-my-dealer Ford store had a grey Sport Hybrid in stock.

We pulled up and parked next to a white Escape, and as I walked around it I noticed the HYBRID badge on the back. Funny, their website didn’t show a white one... *looks at window sticker* “Titanium? Only $36k WTF?” The Sport we had come to look at was $33k. I quickly forgot about it.

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Apparently, Ford’s trim levels go S, SE, SE Sport Hybrid, SEL, and Titanium. The Titanium is a HYBRID STANDARD, with a EcoBoost 4 gasser as optional. Well, that’s news to me. The Titanium is a $2000 package I did not think I would need, given it has a single household 110v outlet for rear seat passengers. No 12v, no USB, This is all my kids would get. WTF, Ford?

Illustration for article titled TEST DRIVE TIME!!!!! (part 2)

But then I found out today with the Sport we give up Dual Zone A/C, and the fancy B&O railroad.. I mean sound system. Also it seems to not have a heated steering wheel (?), rain sensing wipers, homelink, memory seats/mirrors and a lot of chrome. I might be able to live with most of that, but I like me a heated steering wheel in my old age.

Even a fully loaded Titanium still has a blank switch. SMH.
Even a fully loaded Titanium still has a blank switch. SMH.
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Anyways, with the little stuff out of the way, the drive was great. We opened the windows (it was nice out) to hear the little song it plays to warn pedestrians when its in full electric mode. Which, to my wife’s amusement (“Is it on?” yes “are you sure?” have you driven an electric or hybrid before? “no” me either but I watch a lot of Doug Demuro videos) we silently backed out of the dealer’s lot and onto a side road before the engine kicked on. And when it did it was smooth and quiet, with just a little rumble from under the hood.

We pulled out on the highway, gave it some beans, and proceeded to test everything out.

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The seats were comfy compared to our Durango, there was room to move around, the ride was nice (didn’t try any city driving though) and quiet, and though we didn’t get to test the adaptive cruise, the lane departure warning is just that. A warning by a slight shake in the wheel, like you’re going over rumble strips. It does not nudge you back into your lane, like the Jeep supposedly does (more on that in a bit as well).

We stopped, perused the cargo area and back seat deeming them adequate for the dogs and kids, respectively. With the front seat where I would have it, I had room behind it in the back. So my lanky 14yo should fit fine.

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The cargo area will fit our two dogs, and there was a aluminum wheel’d compact spare under the floor (not available on the Sport) with a shockingly open 12v battery in there. Drop something metal, or store something metal down there and sparks might fly. There’s also another 12v outlet back there on the side, in case I want to run more phone chargers, who knows.

On the drive back to the dealer, my better half drove and I rode shotgun. I found a TON of room in the passenger footwell, and was even able to move my seat up further until my feet found what felt like a plastic panel against the firewall at about toe height. That had some give to it. “What is this, the passenger side brake, in case you’re driving too fast?” I stabbed at it a couple times with my feet. Not sure what’s under it, but it shouldn’t move when pressed I don’t think.

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Back at the dealer we did some talking, trying to figure out options but no one there really knew so we left, promised they’d send a brochure to my email when they got one. Very low pressure environment, and they seemed to take my “our lease is up in June and we want to start driving options now” story and allow me to do so, and not try to sell us one today.

The Titanium we drove in $595 Star White
The Titanium we drove in $595 Star White
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On to the Jeep dealer....

On second thought, that was a bust. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but they had a High Altitude on the lot with the two packages I want, but couldn’t find locally in the other two cheaper trims: Limited and Trailhawk.

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But since it had the Luxury package (heated wheel, seats, power foot-sensor operated liftgate, slidable second row seats) and Technology package (Lane departure, adaptive cruise, etc) I want but a 4cyl turbo I do not want, we just wanted to drive it to see how all that was.

But, the dealer flat out refused to acknowledge they had it, stuck us in a non-tach and lux Cherokee with a turbo, and though it felt quick I’ve driven several Cherokees at work prior, and A. wanted to drive one with all the goodies and B. wanted the wife to drive it to see if she liked it.

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But, we had a horrible salesperson, the showroom smelled like a gym bag, the wrong car was given to us, and he had to come along with us and try to answer simple questions he did not know the answer to. My wife didn’t like him and didn’t want to drive, she just wanted to leave. So we did.

And I went to work on a Saturday.

There I was given the keys to any V6 Cherokee I wanted (none of ours have both option packages I wanted either, but at least she can drive one) and we were left to go on our way. We even got to drive a Wrangler later so my wife can hate them more than she already did.

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Comparing the Jeep to the Ford was quite the experience. Where the Ford was quiet and comfy, the Jeep was loud and harsh. Except the seats. The front seats in the Jeep were like cuddly supportive pillows compared to the ‘meh’ flat hard seats in the Ford.

The cluster was low tech dials, not the high end flat screen TV the Ford has, understandably. the radio screen built in, versus tacked on the dash in the Ford. The shifter is an old school handle, versus a dial in the Ford. I prefer the Jeep’s, ONLY because its not a CVT so I can row through the (9) gears in patented Autostick fashion.

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The rear seat has similar space, but THREE! power ports. There was a little less headroom in the Jeep (both had panoramic roofs) for me with a hat on, but both had hard flat and short rear seats with no lumbar support. Or heat. Kids are gonna miss the Durango in the winter for that reason alone.

There was slightly less cargo room for... cargo (and dogs) due to the steeper rake of the Cherokee back window, and liftover (i.e. dog’s jumping height) was taller.

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On road the Cherokee was stiffer, bouncier, but then again we drove it in the city, whereas the Escape was all highway. I’m going to see if I can borrow a standard Escape to drive to home/school IF it seems we are going to swing that way.

Illustration for article titled TEST DRIVE TIME!!!!! (part 2)
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Speaking of: The numbers aren’t in yet with the employee discounts, but just with regular incentives (the Jeep has many, the Ford not so much) we’re looking at a $40-$70 a month lease payment difference. For the Titanium versus a Cherokee Limited with the right options we found 300 miles away. That’s not a lot in the long run, especially to get everything the Jeep has, plus more and MUCH newer tech and a hybrid drive. 40mpg vs. 20mpg city seems like a big one though. Using quick math, its a $25 difference in payment away from being an easy choice.

Take the penalty on fancy tech and high MPG for a lower payment, or pay more for the former?

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We’ll see what the numbers come out to be.

Oh, and our current leases end in June so we have PLENTY of time to think all this over... unless they buy us out of them now!

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I will say this, based off looks, preliminary numbers, and the short drive my wife likes the Jeep more. If the numbers come out even, or within the $25 a month MPG penalty, it might make her choose the Ford.

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