Ford trucks began going green for the first time on a large-scale basis (never mind a few previous prototypes) in 2005. New this year was a gas/electric hybrid version of the Ford Escape compact SUV. Its drivetrain coupled a four-cylinder engine with an electric motor, and the vehicle would run on a combination of the two or on either source alone depending on conditions. Fuel economy was impressive, with EPA ratings (33 city/29 highway) that bested the regular four-cylinder model by a substantial margin.
Also new this year was a car/SUV "crossover" called the Ford Freestyle. Larger than the Escape, less trucklike than the Explorer, it could seat up to seven and featured Ford's first Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
Dropped at the end of the 2005 model year was the big Excursion sport-utility vehicle. Its demise coincided with soaring gas prices but wasn't decided by them; Ford's determination to drop it had been made long before, as sales had been sagging for some years.
Although delayed by some two years, the 2005 Escape Hybrid was still in time to give Ford the first hybrid SUV. A special 2.3-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine and a battery-powered electric motor were combined with a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The vehicle could run on either or both power sources, depending on driving needs. The CVT helped optimize the maximum 155 horsepower for performance roughly between that of the regular four-cylinder and V-6 Escapes. Sales were strong from day one.
Freestyle was Ford's new 2005 entry in the fast-growing market for car-based "crossover" SUVs. Offered with front- or all-wheel drive, the Freestyles came with a 3.0-liter V-6 and new continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Three rows of seats could accommodate up to seven passengers. Front side airbags and curtain side airbags were optional, as were power adjustable pedals, rear-seat DVD entertainment, and rear obstacle detection.
The Ford Excursion also got a fresh face for what would turn out to be its swan-song year. Sales of the gargantuan SUV had been sliding in the face of higher gas prices.
The luxury King Ranch edition returned to Ford's F-150 truck line for 2005 after a one-year hiatus.
Middleweight Ford F-450 and F-550 Super Dutys were restyled for 2005 with Ford's signature "nostril" truck grille.
The Ford Ranger truck and Explorer SUV get updated looks in 2006, but another SUV says goodbye. Find out which one on the next page.
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