For This Ford Hybrid, 300,000 Miles Is Just a Starting Point

2012 Ford Escape Hybrid | Ford

Everyone wants to know which cars last the longest, and we have plenty of data to help answer the question. Over the past 8-9 years, we’ve seen most models clocking 200,000 miles or more belonging to the large SUV category.

However, you could safely assume owners kept them on the road because of their high purchase price. Unless they kept driving them for a decade, they would never get real value from them. When you look at the vehicles that topped 1 million miles, you see a mix of Honda Accords, pickup trucks, and German luxury cars.

That all makes sense on various levels. But we also need to look at the cars that jolt back and forth all day long in city traffic, racking up wear and tear yet continuing to start every morning. Several Toyota Prius Hybrids have been known for their stunning durability as taxis in this sort of driving.

Out on the mean streets of New York, America’s first hybrid has been the one dominating the high-mileage charts. If you ask taxi drivers there driving second-generation (2009-12) Ford Escape Hybrids, they’ll quote you — and show you — some of the most eye-popping numbers you’ll ever see on an odometer.

Over the past several years, we’ve made a point of hailing Escape Hybrids whenever taking a taxi. It’s quite clear that 300,000 miles is only a starting point for this vehicle.

The mile counts: From extraordinary to unbelievable

As we noted above, we’ve been playing “Ask the Driver the Mileage” for years in dozens of Escape Hybrids. Most cabbies are happy to oblige, and pull up the digital odometer to show us on the display.

The idea occurred to us because Ford ended production of this vehicle in 2012, yet this limited-edition model continues roaming the streets. After at least five years on the road accumulating the sort of miles taxis log, we figured the numbers would be extraordinary.

In fact, it was that way from the very beginning of the Escape Hybrid experiment. Back in 2007, about two years after the first models debuted in New York City taxi fleets, Ford gave an update on their status. They said all 288 models had logged 175,000 miles already — with “no major mechanical problems.”

Three Ford Escape hybrid taxicabs donated by Yahoo! in front of New York's City Hall, 22 May 2007, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city's taxi fleet will be fully hybrid by 2012. The Taxi and Limousine Commission will implement new emissions and mileage standards phased in over the next four years for the more than 13,000 yellow taxicabs in New York.
2008 Ford Escape Hybrid taxis in front of New York’s City Hall | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

By 2016, the Escape Hybrids still in the fleet were mostly from 2009 and on. In these cases, we found numbers like 350,000-420,000 to be the standard. In August 2018, when we asked two Escape Hybrid drivers how many miles theirs had, the first (435,000) was mind-boggling enough.

However, the second driver we asked knew he had a live one on his hands. “You’ll never guess,” he said. “Go ahead and try.” I answered with the biggest number I could think of: 550,000 miles.

“Much higher,” he said. “618,000 miles.” It turned out he had a 2010 model, and it was being retired at the end of 2018. “[Ford] made a mistake,” he told us. “They never imagined they could make such a good car.”

Ford Escape hybrid specs

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 10: Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford leans against a Ford Escape Hybrid taxicab which was unveiled today as one of the first six hybrid taxis in the city November 10, 2005 in New York City. The Escape Hybrid taxis run on a combination of gasoline and electricity and achieve 36 miles per gallon in city driving, close to 500 miles per tank of gas.
Not even Bill Ford could have had any idea how durable the Escape Hybrid would be. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

The 618,000-mile Escape Hybrid driver said he was getting 25 mpg combined these days. After eight years on the road, you have to expect a decline in this department. For used car shoppers considering picking one up and seeing how long you can run it, it’s worth checking the original specs.

  • 2005-08 Escape Hybrid: 2.3-liter 4-cylinder, automatic transmission, 29 mpg combined
  • 2009-12 Escape Hybrid: 2.5 cylinder 4-cylinder, automatic transmission, 32 mpg combined

Before you go after one , we’d suggest looking for a mechanic that can help you keep such an old hybrid going. (Garages that service taxis would be the place to check.)

If you find one that’s been well-maintained, you might have yourself a car that can last the next decade. We didn’t believe it until we saw it — over and over again.