The Ford Escape plug-in hybrid is a quality eco-friendly SUV option – The Oakland Press

Among automakers, it’s a bit of a race right now to see who can best adapt to the future of the electric vehicle.

Ford is starting to step up that fight, as it recently announced it will invest $22 billion in electric vehicles (and $7 billion in self-driving vehicles) through 2025. And it’s already selling new vehicle offerings. electric vehicles such as the Mustang Mach-E and F.-150 Lightning.

A step up from a full EV is a plug-in hybrid (or PHEV), and I recently had the chance to test a Ford offering in this area: the Ford Escape PHEV. This type of vehicle is a good stopover for people who aren’t quite ready to rely on a fully electric vehicle, but want something other than a traditional ICE ride – either for environmental reasons or just to make a break from the yo-yo gas prices we see so often.

I tested a 2021 Escape PHEV, but it continues through the 2022 model year pretty much as is, except for some new paint options.

  • Courtesy of Ford

  • Courtesy of Ford

  • Courtesy of Ford

  • Courtesy of Ford

  • Courtesy of Ford

  • Courtesy of Ford

  • 2021 Ford Escape

for your information

Vehicle: Ford Escape PHEV (plug-in hybrid)
Price as tested: $40,130 (starts around $34,000)
Best Feature: Fuel economy, green credentials; smooth ride, sharp design
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Who wants this vehicle?: SUV buyers looking for a well-designed and comfortable ride that will keep them away from gas pumps

LOOKS

Last redesigned for the 2020 model year, the Escape retains a low, sporty and attractive exterior redesign that grabs your attention but isn’t too flashy.

Starting with the exterior, wheel options range from 17-inch steel wheels to 19-inch nickel-painted aluminum, depending on trim level and packages chosen. Many clean-looking options are available and all-season tires are included with all models. It also comes with LED lighting all around, from headlights to taillights, as well as rain-sensing wipers and a hands-free tailgate.

Inside, there’s enough seating capacity for five adults in the Escape. The interior design featured quality materials (ActiveX seats, leather steering wheel) and the seats were comfortable and impressive for a non-luxury compact SUV.

If you’re trying to get people and/or goods into the Escape PHEV, you’re in luck.

On the people side, there’s about 40 inches of headroom for front and rear passengers. And there’s a total of 60.8 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats folded down. And a wireless charger for your mobile phone is also available.

HOW IS THE ROAD?

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and full hybrid (FHEV) versions of the Escape run on a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine and electronic continuously variable transmission, which deliver a maximum of 221 horsepower and 155 lb-ft . of torque.

Only front-wheel drive is offered on the PHEV version of the Escape, but other versions of the Escape also offer all-wheel drive.

The Escape features anti-lock braking and a regenerative braking system which, when used properly, replenishes the vehicle’s electrical energy while you drive.

The ride in the Escape PHEV is smooth and extremely quiet. It’s not for fans of power-focused rides (most hybrids aren’t), but families who want a nice, responsive ride experience will still love it.

The Escape PHEV isn’t a rocket from a standing position by any standard (0-60 time is nearly 9 seconds), but it can still get the job done when you need to move quickly, in situations like merging on the freeway or switching lanes on a busy road.

If you like the Escape but don’t want a hybrid engine, non-hybrid engine options include:

  • A 1.5-liter EcoBoost I-3 engine delivering 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque
  • A 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 engine delivering 250 horsepower and 208 lb-ft of torque

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system in the Escape had strong overall design and functionality, both via voice commands and touch controls.

The only hiccup I found was that voice commands weren’t always recognized on my first attempt at navigation, especially for POIs, but otherwise the system easily understood my commands. There are also helpful on-screen controls that suggest the best thing to say, as you master the learning curve of the system, which features an 8-inch touchscreen with a clean, user-friendly setup.

The Escape also featured an impressive 10-speaker audio system, intelligent adaptive cruise control, push-button start, pedestrian horn, rear-view camera, a reversing detection system and exciting new technologies such as the optional Active Park Assist 2.0.

On the safety side, the highlight is the Escape’s Ford Co-Pilot 360 features, which include: automatic high beams; Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert; Lane Keeping System (includes Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Keeping Alert and Driver Alert); Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (includes Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Assist); Collision braking and hill start assist.

The Escape also includes the usual multitude of airbags found in today’s vehicles, covering those in the car from the front, sides and even a driver’s knee airbag. The Escape’s safety ratings are near perfect, as it’s one of the IIHS’ top safety picks.

MPG

With a plug-in hybrid, fuel economy is obviously one of the biggest selling points. And the Escape PHEV delivers in that area.

The official figures are 40 MPG gas only and 104 MPGe (electric and gas combined). My real-world tests were a few miles per gallon lower, but those are still great numbers for the segment.

A fully charged battery will get you up to 38 miles per gallon of power. It takes about three hours to charge with a 240V outlet and 10.6 hours to charge with a 120V outlet. So the power source upgrade is definitely worth it for a plug-in hybrid owner.

If you mostly drive short distances and refuel at night, you’ll almost never need to fill up at the pump, which is becoming increasingly important with fluctuating gas prices weighing on your people’s wallets these days.

Fuel economy ratings for the standard (non-plug-in) hybrid version of the Escape are: 44 city/37 highway/41 combined (FWD); or 43/37/40 (AWD)

THE PRICE

The Escape PHEV I tested was at the premium titanium trim level and had a final price of just over $40,000. If you opt for the base version of the PHEV, you’ll pay around $34,000, while the non-hybrid Escape starts at around $27,000.

Trim levels offered are S, SE, SEL and Titanium.

In terms of price compared to the competition, there are plenty of SUVs out there, but most don’t offer a plug-in hybrid. An example that does, the Toyota RAV4 Prime, is a little more expensive, starting at around $40,000.

The Escape comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile Bumper to Bumper warranty, plus 5-year roadside assistance and an 8-year/100,000-mile hybrid warranty.

LOWER RESULT

Ford buyers looking to take that first step toward an all-electric vehicle, without taking the full plunge, have a solid middle-of-the-road option with the Escape plug-in hybrid.

It has great looks, strong technical and safety features, impressive mileage and a solid overall driving experience. If you’re considering getting a hybrid SUV, this is definitely the one to consider.

Matt Myftiu can be contacted by email at [email protected] Its past reviews can all be viewed online at autotechreviews.com.

Norma A. Roth