DEARBORN, MI – The 2009 Ford Escape and 2009 Mercury Mariner are rolling out a new set of tires for improved fuel economy. These two fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly SUVs boast a projected 1 mpg fuel economy improvement for both four- and six-cylinder models, thanks in part to a new set of 16-inch Michelin Latitude Tour low-rolling-resistance tires.

Ford and Michelin collaborated to optimize the tires' mold design and implement a new-generation tread stock for the new Latitude Tour tire. Low-rolling-resistance tires are part of a multifaceted Ford approach to improving fuel economy. Other initiatives include the introduction of energy-efficient, six-speed automatic transmissions, and more fuel-efficient engine technologies.

The P235/70R16 tires are standard for all Escape and Mariner models, including hybrids.

Also, the Escape and Mariner receive aerodynamic refinements on top of powertrain upgrades that contribute to an overall estimated 1 mpg improvement in fuel economy for the four- and six-cylinder models. For the 2009 Escape and Mariner, engineers redesigned the front bumper spoiler and added rear tire spoilers for better airflow management.

The 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner offer a new, 171-hp, 2.5L four-cylinder engine with intake variable cam timing (i-VCT) for enhanced fuel economy and performance. The new engine is expected to gain 1 mpg in both city and highway fuel economy when equipped with the new six-speed transmission, as compared to the previous model's smaller-displacement 2.3L engine and four-speed automatic.

The new engine offers an 11 percent increase in power output versus the 2.3-liter (153 hp). This gives Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner a 1.7-second improvement in 0-60 mph acceleration.

The front spoiler was extended further over the wheels to diminish drag and was lowered by 40 mm to redirect air flow. The rear tire spoilers help reduce the aerodynamic drag of the rear wheels and tires. From underbody shields to door sealing and new mirror designs, the Ford team spent hours in a wind tunnel and with sophisticated computer modeling to analyze airflow patterns and measure drag data.

Escape and Mariner for 2009 also introduce Easy Fuel capless refueling, ambient lighting, and standard cruise control. Standard on all Escape and Mariner models are an anti-lock braking system and Ford's exclusive AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control). The only available electronic stability control system with two gyroscopic effect sensors, AdvanceTrac with RSC measures vehicle motion about both the yaw and roll axes. The system automatically engages counter measures to help the driver maintain maximum control and reduce the risk of rollover.

The Escape Hybrid and Mariner Hybrid for 2009 bring an array of new features and technologies to strengthen their claim as America's most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly SUVs.

For 2009, the Hybrid models will use the new 2.5L I-4 designed to run on the Atkinson combustion cycle. A new engine processor enables nearly imperceptible transitions between gas and electric vehicle mode. The hybrid models also feature a new powertrain damping system to reduce vibrations and feedback to the driver and other vehicle occupants.