The Ford Escape Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid features a powertrain well proven, an evolution of hardware that has been in production for nearly a decade powering Ford Fusion and C-Max Hybrid models just to name a few.

In the Escape Hybrids are a 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine, named recently as one of Wards Ten Best Engines. Originally developed with Mazda and now built by Ford in Chihuahua, Mexico, this variant of the engine features an Atkinson Cycle. It operates slightly different from an Otto-cycle with intake valves staying open longer improving efficiency up to 10%.

With an aluminum block and head it has a relatively high compression ratio of 12.3:1 yet due to its tuning is rated to operate on 87 octane fuel. It has a conventional port fuel injection system, variable cam timing and is rated at 166 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque.

It’s mated to the Ford designed and built HF-45 hybrid transmission which has two motors, a main drive traction motor and a motor generator, along with a planetary gearset which allows for continuously variable power output. The Lithium-Ion high-voltage battery mounted under the passenger compartment.

Under the hood you will find a generous helping of bright orange high-voltage wiring which should only be handled by trained technicians as it carries 450-plus volts – high enough to kill you instantly. The wiring travels to the transmission and the hybrid control unit near the top of the transmission. It also travels to and powers the electric AC compressor mounted low on the front of the engine.

Following the airflow, the intake charge begins at the top of the radiator coming in through a snorkel and then down into a compact air filter box. From there it travels immediately into a drive-by-wire throttle body and into a composite plastic intake manifold at the front of the engine.

Looking at the top of the engine you can spot the fuel rail and injection system for its port injection and atop the head the four coil packs for its spark plugs. After combustion, spent exhaust air then exits at the rear of the engine and directly into the catalyst system.

DIY maintenance on the Escape Hybrids is relatively straight forward in spite of the complexities. Windshield washer fluid is found at the passenger side near the fender visible by its bright blue cap.
Next to that are the two coolant reservoirs.

The smaller one to the rear is for the low temperature coolant circuit that includes the hybrid battery, control units and the motor drive unit. The larger one to the front is the main engine coolant reservoir. They both use the same coolant type and can be checked and topped off in the same manner.

Checking the oil is done at the top front of the engine at the bright yellow dipstick, the oil fill cap is nearby at the top of the valve cover. Accessing the oil filter is done from the bottom of the vehicle.

The brake fluid reservoir is at the expected location at the driver side firewall, sitting atop an electronic brake motor control unit in lieu of a conventional master cylinder and booster. To the right of it is the main hybrid system control unit which is liquid cooled.

There are two fuse boxes, one under the hood which handles most of the engine and control systems circuits – a bit of a chore to access but as owners we aren’t likely to need to much. Most of the “consumer grade” fuses that owners may need to access are at the second fuse box located under the passenger side dash, below the glove box behind an easily removable cover.

Also in the passenger compartment is the 12V battery as there was no room for it under the hood due to the hybrid control hardware being in its normal spot. You will find it under the cargo floor in the rear where a spare tire might be normally expected to be. The 12V battery handles all of the lighting, interior accessories, and powering the computers.

So yes, missing under the hood is a 12V battery but you also won’t find a power steering pump as it is an electrically assisted system. There is also no dipstick for the transmission as it is not considered user serviceable.