Ford is to put its new hybrid Escape Hybrid to the test from the morning of April 5 to determine how many miles and how many consecutive hours the SUV can cover on one 15-(US) gallon tank of petrol.

"We are going to drive up, down and across the island of Manhattan in some of the heaviest traffic possible," said Mary Ann Wright, Ford's chief engineer for the hybrid model.

"Escape Hybrid can provide an economical solution to a problem commuters face every day - bumper-to-bumper gridlock that can bleed a normal car's fuel tank dry," Wright said.

Several New York 'celebrities' and journalists will each drive a short leg of the epic "Manhattan On a Tank of Gas" challenge. The drive will start at a hotel on Central Park South, in midtown.

"No other vehicle that can carry five adults along with all their gear could take on this kind of traffic and get very far," Wright said. "Other vehicles might start out with more fuel but they will go through it a lot more quickly."