Editors of Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com today named the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid – the cleanest and most fuel-efficient SUV on the planet – to its inaugural list of "Top 10 Green Cars."

"Rising gas prices have been particularly troublesome for drivers who've grown accustomed to the raised seating position and added interior flexibility of SUVs," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. "With the Ford Escape Hybrid, those so inclined can have their cake and haul it too."

In compiling its list of "Top 10 Green Cars," Nerad says the kbb.com editors looked at more than just fuel economy and price.

"We also considered factors like comfort, performance, utility and technology," he said. "We wanted to put together a fairly wide-ranging list that would suit the needs of a cross section of the American public."

The versatility of the Escape Hybrid is what makes the vehicle a standout, said David Finnegan, Ford Escape marketing manager.

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"It combines the fuel economy and emissions benefits of a full hybrid with the capability, toughness and spaciousness of the Ford Escape," Finnegan said. "Customers can do a lot more with this vehicle than with other car-based hybrid vehicles."

Nerad says the versatility of the Escape Hybrid is enhanced by its straightforward styling.

"A lot of crossovers are designed with a very fast rear end – meaning a sloping rear window – and that kind of styling affects the functionality of the vehicle," Nerad said. "The Escape Hybrid combines attractive styling with excellent carrying capacity."

When it comes to being green, the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid fits the bill with real-world fuel economy and low emissions.

"The vehicle achieves up to 34 mpg in city driving and can travel more than 500 miles in city driving on a single tank of gasoline," Finnegan said. "It is also an extremely clean vehicle to operate."

The Escape Hybrid is 99.4 percent cleaner on average than an unregulated vehicle. It meets the strict Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV II) and Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards.

"The vehicle is green both inside and out," Finnegan added. "The interior features the industry's first fabric seating surfaces made from 100 percent recycled material."

And the Escape Hybrid is as tough as it is clean. For the past few years, taxi companies from New York to San Francisco have been putting Escape Hybrids to work, proving their durability and reliability after hours – even days – of continuous use.

Most recently, a fleet of Escape Hybrids were put into rigorous service patrolling 31 miles of Southern California coastline as rescue vehicles for the Los Angeles County Lifeguards.

"The technology of the Ford Escape Hybrid is certainly stellar," Nerad said. "It feels and drives like a conventional vehicle, and it does all of the things a conventional Ford Escape can do. There's no penalty at all for the hybrid operation."

Earning a spot on kbb.com's exclusive list of "Top 10 Green Cars" is not the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid's only accolade. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) placed the vehicle on its "Greener Choices 2008" list, and the Escape Hybrid earned a Best Buy rating from Consumers Digest.

Nerad says the Ford Escape Hybrid is even more enhanced for 2009.

"The 2009 model is improved in every way, especially from a drivability standpoint," he said. "The hybrid system is better than ever with very smooth transitions between electric and gasoline power, plus the braking feel is much improved."