The Ford Escape has taken on many shapes and design themes since it first arrived in 2001 as a true compact crossover SUV. In its second generation it hatched a hybrid version and since then Ford’s compact utility has been known for being “green”.
In its latest generation the Ford Escape shed its tall boxy persona for a more svelte car-like silhouette and more graceful lines. While today offering many trims and powertrains, the plug-in hybrid is the newest and most interesting of the choices.
With the same 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle engine and two-motor hybrid transmission as the standard Escape Hybrid, the Plug-In has a substantially larger battery pack under its floor that can be charged up to allow up to 37 miles of EV only driving, then followed by traditional hybrid operation once the charge is depleted.
This allows for those with a short travel radius from home the capability to treat the Escape Plug-In Hybrid essentially as an EV if they charge it up each day. Even if you bound past that EV only range, the hybrid mode itself with the gasoline engine is very efficient.
It’s rated at 105 MPGe for EV mode and 40 mpg combined for hybrid mode. This might sound like Swiss cheese but basically if you use an amount of EV only driving mixed in with your tanks of gas your mileage could be anything good up to hundreds if you rarely see the engine fire up.
That said, the gasoline engine will start up once in a while even when you have it set on EV mode with a sufficient charge. This is because the electric motor doesn’t by itself have enough power to give you the full acceleration the vehicle is capable of. So if you mash the pedal and ask for fast, the engine may come on briefly. This is also true if temperatures are such that the engine needs to run to keep the 12V battery charged up to keep running your accessories.
In any case, with its total system horsepower of 200 we found power to be more than adequate around town and on the highway. The system is as refined as they come in its transitions from electric to hybrid and back.
Priced at $44,745 for our tester which was a fully loaded Titanium model with options it is on the pricey side but so are the majority of its competitors similarly equipped. One thing it does fall short of in the comparison index is that it’s only available in FWD, where some competitors like the RAV4 Prime come with AWD standard.
Speaking of the RAV4 Prime, it also comes with a healthy 302 horsepower which is a great deal more than the Escape Plug-In offers. It is however less efficient. Each car company seems to come at these plug-in hybrids with a different approach, these two competitors demonstrate that.
We came away from our week with the Escape Plug-In Hybrid for the most part impressed not only with its powertrain but its quality interior trappings. Improvements to be made? Sure. The ride is a bit on the bouncy and bobbing side as it relates to damper tuning to account for its heavy battery. Seating both front and rear while offering much adjustment range, could still use more comfort.