Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid offers the best of both worlds
The Ford Escape has long been one of my favorite small SUVs. Ford does a great job producing a crossover that is nimble, fun to drive, and useful. The compact size is convenient for errands, shopping, or commuting. Best of all, Ford makes the Escape available with a selection of drivetrains including two EcoBoost turbocharged engines, a standard hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid.
Our test vehicle this week was the plug-in hybrid, and that's always a treat. To make sure we're all on the same page, a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) has a large enough battery to operate as an electric vehicle for a short range, and then kicks in the gasoline engine and runs like a standard hybrid. You still get the increased fuel economy of a hybrid, but most plug-ins offer enough electric range to get you to work and back without using any gas at all.
That's the case with the Escape. Fully charged, the Escape Plug-in Hybrid showed me 28 miles of range. The EPA says it will potentially go up to 37 miles, given optimal conditions. But even with the 28 miles available in the middle of winter, that's enough to get most people to and from work on electricity. Only once in my week with the Escape did I use any gasoline, and that was coming back from a neighboring town. If you want to save money on gas without worrying about total range, a plug-in is the way to go. The Escape will travel up to 520 miles on a full charge and a full tank.
Driving the Escape is just like driving any other car. You can ignore the hybrid system if you want; it will do its work without your intervention. You can just plug it in to a standard 120V household outlet at night, or a 240V charging system if you have one. I ran an extension cord out of the garage into the driveway and it worked perfectly.
On the road, the Escape Plug-in Hybrid has adequate power. It's not a race car, but it's not slow, either. Handling is good for its class, and it gives you a pleasantly smooth ride. One thing that's very nice is the quiet when the Escape is running on electricity. One other thing to know is that the Ford PHEV is a front-wheel-drive vehicle only. Consider this an urban vehicle rather than an off-road contender.
The Escape PHEV comes in the SEL and Titanium trims, which are the top trims for the model. So the interior is very luxurious, with Ford's ActiveX synthetic upholstery over heated front seats. Leather is an option, but really the ActiveX is just as good. An eight-inch touchscreen handles navigation and infotainment, while the driver's display is presented on a 12.3-inch screen. A head-up display is optional.
The Escape Titanium comes with a full set of advanced safety features encompassed in Ford's Co-Pilot 360 package. This set of features includes adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance steering assist, speed limit sign recognition, and onboard GPS navigation.
The biggest fault I could find with the Escape Plug-In Hybrid was its price. With the high trim level and the plug-in hybrid driveline, sticker price on this little crossover is $43,395. Now, admittedly, up to $10,000 of that price may be reimbursed with Federal and Oregon tax credits.
However, if I was going to lay out that much money to begin with, I'd be tempted to get a full EV like the Chevrolet Bolt EUV with a 247-mile range or something comparable to the Escape like the Kia Niro PHEV. Both of those are about $5,000 less expensive than the Escape, and both are eligible for the same tax credits. You could even get Ford's hot new all-electric Mustang Mach-E for about $2,000 more than the Escape, if you kept to the base specification.
Still, if you've been tempted to go electric, but range and charging has you worried, the Ford Escape PHEV should absolutely be on your test-drive list. 2022 is bringing us more electrified options, so take your time and consider the best selection for your particular lifestyle.
2022 Ford Escape Titanium Plug-In Hybrid
Base price: $39,185
Price as tested: $43,395
Type: Compact crossover SUV
Engine: 2.5-liter hybrid (200 total system hp)
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission
EPA estimated mileage: 105 MPGe
Overall length: 180.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,870 pounds
Final assembly: Louisville, Kentucky
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