With the release of their Mustang Mach-E and the early success of the F-150 Lightning, Ford has cemented itself as a power player in the electric vehicle market. The automaker is now turning to plug-in hybrid technology as it continues to make inroads in their electrification initiative.The first model to get this treatment is the popular Ford Escape compact SUV, PHEV.
At first glance the vehicle seems like any other ordinary Ford Escape, which is true design-wise. But the car’s specs overshadow its internal combustion counterpart. The PHEV powertrain delivers a total output of 221 horsepower, which is more powerful than the 181 horsepower base model and the 200 horsepower regular hybrid Escape. Thanks to the contributions of its 165 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, it reaches 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is on par with the traditional hybrid Escape and faster than the 8-second time from the base model. The SUV was not designed as a performance EV but was engineered for efficiency.
The Ford Escape PHEV uses the electric motor to provide an EPA-estimated 37-mile range, thanks to its 11.2 kWh of usable battery, which should be plenty for the average daily commute. Once the battery is depleted, the car achieves a fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon, which is on par with other hybrid Escapes and surpasses the 30 miles per gallon on the gas-only model.
In addition, it has several drive modes that allow for plenty of flexibility between the electric and internal combustion motors. Aside from the default, which will dole out electric and gas power as its software naturally sees fit, there’s a system that conserves battery, a regenerative system that uses the engine to charge the battery, and a pure-EV mode.
The vehicle uses a regenerative braking system with a “brake coach” to tell you what energy percentage you’ve restored to the battery through braking. Without any of those nifty regenerative driving features, the battery charges 100% in about 3.5 hours using a Level 2 port. Unfortunately, the PHEV is unable to use Level 3 fast charging.
The automaker decorated the car’s five-seat interior in practical Ford fashion. All the seats are faux leather and the dashboard is all digital, using a configuration specifically designed for the hybrid. It gives information about the electric and internal combustion engines, which a driver can toggle between using buttons on the steering wheel. The infotainment center has a pleasant spread of buttons that cooperate nicely with the large touchscreen. The center console has a circular shifter, a few cup holders, and storage. Regarding cargo space, the Escape PHEV has a 34.4 cubic feet trunk with the back seats up, about three cubic feet less than the regular Escape. However, with the seats down, the range improves to nearly 61 cubic feet.
The PHEV also enjoys plenty of impressive safety and driver assistance features. There are dual-stage driver, front passenger, side, and driver-knee airbags. The car also has an SOS post-crash alert system. In terms of driver assistance, it includes pre-collision assist, emergency braking, a blind spot sensor, and lane-keeping technology.
The Ford Escape PHEV starts at $35,455, although the car is eligible for a $6,600 federal tax credit after purchase. The plug-in hybrid offers plenty of value as a transition vehicle between internal combustion and EV.
For the value, this compact SUV provides the best of both worlds, using an electric powertrain without worrying about range anxiety.