Last year we drove the fabulous Escape Hybrid and loved it. Ford have since added the PHEV version to their ever expanding electric lineup and we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. Oddly enough, it’s the same colour as last year’s hybrid – Antimatter Blue. What’s the difference between them? Well, the PHEV has a larger battery that you can plug in and charge. Depending on the distance you drive, potentially you’ll only visit the gas station once or twice per year. For longer journeys there’s no ‘range anxiety’ because it runs just like a regular hybrid using gas, with the electric battery helping to save fuel. The PHEV can run on purely electric power for 50 kilometres and up to 80 km/h (we actually got up to 125 km/h on pure battery power!) before the engine kicks in, whereas the hybrid uses the battery to help the gas engine. Either way you’re saving fuel and at today’s prices – that’s important.
Related: 2021 Ford Escape Hybrid
What Is It?
- Small to Mid-size Gas/Electric Plugin Hybrid SUV
- Perfect size for everyday use
- 5 L iVCT Atkinson-Cycle I4 Engine
- E-CVT Transmission
- We’re driving the top-of-the-line Titanium Elite model
How Does It Look?
- The current iteration of Escape has been around for a couple of years now, and I’m still not sure if I like how it looks, certainly don’t love it
- It IS perfectly proportioned and sized – making it just about the perfect for everyday use
What’s It Like Inside?
- It’s VERY quiet! Very noticeable on a windy day, especially at highway speeds – it was impressively silent
- Love the ebony/sandstone leather combo (exclusive to Elite), and even the faux wood accent in the Elite model looks pretty good
- The layout is excellent – it’s simple and everything is easy to understand and use at just a quick glance
- The 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen comes with SYNC 3 that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto + FordPass Connect (Wi-Fi Hotspot)
- The driver gets a customizable 3” digital instrument cluster
- The HUD (Heads Up Display) – available on Elite only) is a nice touch and it’s fully customizable. PLUS you can move the information on the screen around to suit your height – many vehicles either don’t have this option or it’s very limited. Kudos to Ford, this is possibly the best I’ve ever used!
- The Heated (not cooled) front seats are very comfortable
- Titanium offers powered, 3-person memory for the driver seat and both front seats get power lumbar adjustment, while the passenger only has 4-Way manual adjustments
- Heated steering wheel – nice, easily found button, NOT stuck in a menu same place
- Superb B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen (10 Speakers, including Subwoofer)
- Voice-activated touchscreen navigation system with pinch-to-zoom capability comes in the Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package (standard) but you’ll need to keep an eye out for availability of this feature as Ford continues to “optimize” their vehicles due to chip shortages
- Panoramic Vista Roof (optional) is great for making the interior bright, but it also has a power shade – worth every penny
- There’s plenty of knee and legroom for rear passengers with a virtually flat floor
- Hands-free, foot-activated power liftgate – only works if the key is in your pocket
- The cargo area offers plenty of space, and the rear seats move forward and aft by 6″ to give you more cargo room if needed – one of the best features is the Escape’s size
- Cargo volume behind first row – 65.4 cu.ft (1,852 L)
- Cargo volume behind second row – 30.7 – 34.4 cu.ft (869.3 – 974 L)
So How Quick Is It & How Does It Handle?
- When not driving like a maniac, it’s brisk enough, but you’ll never mistake it for a Mach-e. It’s placid and goes just fast enough while still reminding you it’s not meant to be a street racer
- Steering is exceptional, predictable and well balanced – just the perfect weight and feel
- Braking is superb – very easy to balance – it doesn’t feel any different from a traditional vehicle
- In Electric/battery mode there’s a little chiming type noise as you’re driving, at times it sounded like a distant police siren. You only hear it when you turn off the audio system, so it’s quite easy to drown it out if it bothers you
- Switching to Sport mode changed the Escape dramatically – it felt more like a sports car. It also switches to Hybrid mode and growls when you stomp on the go pedal
- Sport Mode is by far the most fun mode you can use in the PHEV, but I wish it didn’t have to be re-set every time you turn the vehicle back on! Ford aren’t alone with this complaint. Its 2022, why can’t I set my preference and it locks in – until I change it?
- Eco, Normal and Sport along with Snow/Sand Assist and Slippery driving modes
- Towing capacity: 1,500 lbs (680 kg) – same as the regular hybrid
Horsepower: 221 @ 6,200 rpm (regular hybrid is 200hp)
Torque: 155 @ 4, 500 rpm (engine only, not combined output)
94 kW/173 lb.-ft. battery peak
Top Speed: 214 km/h / 133 mph (est)
0-60 mph (sec): 8.7 (est)
What Does It Cost? For up-to-date pricing and options visit: www.Ford.ca
Base Price: $43,749
+ Premium Package – $2,300 [front/rear floor mats w/logo; panoramic vista roof; wireless charging]
+ Class II Tow Package – $600
As Tested: $46,749
** Note: the Hybrid tested last year came in at an as tested price of $42,799. It was the SEL model with lots of options added. The PHEV might be an actual bargain – especially when you add in the (up to) $2,500 the Canadian Federal Gvmt is throwing into the mix!
** Check local provincial rebates / Transport Canada site.
- Rated at (L/100 km): City – 0.0/ Combined – 2.2
- Gasoline Only: 5.8 L/100 km combined
- Annual cost to operate (Transport Canada – 20,000 kms / $1.25/litre / $0.13 per kWh): $845
- We averaged a very impressive 2.6 – 6.7 L/100 kms during highway driving at 120-130 km/h
- Over the entire week of driving, we averaged 3.338 L/100km!!!
As a comparison, the Hybrid was:
- Rated at (L/100 km): City – 5.5 / Highway – 6.4 / Combined – 5.9
- Annual cost to operate (Transport Canada – 20,000 kms): $1,475
We averaged a very impressive 6.8 L/100 kms in and around town/city – impressive ‘cause we were really stomping on the gas pedal. On longer distances on the highway – 6.0 L/100 kms
Full blow-by-blow details of our week with the Escape PHEV fuel/electric cost etc. are below “the Verdict”
- Basic: 3 years/60,000 km
- Powertrain: 5 years/100,000 km
- Roadside Assistance: 5 years /100,000 km
- USA: Hybrid Component Warranty: 8 years / 100,000 miles – no mention of this on Ford.ca
Hyundai Tucson, Kia Niro, Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota RAV4 Prime
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
• The Good: Phenomenal fuel economy, and really good price-point
• More Good: HUD is perfect, but I’m not sure the price to get it – you have to jump to the Elite Package
• The Bad: Unfortunately every time you switch it off, it defaults to Normal drive mode when you start it
• The Ugly: Turnaround times for hybrids are tending to be longer than their gas-powered counterparts, but this seems to be easing up as chip supplies begin to normalize
What’s The Verdict?
The size is perfect – ingress and egress are great. The driving position is also perfect, however the memory seat was hit and miss for it to remember my settings – numerous times I had to readjust my seat when getting in – might just have been a glitch. Overall it’s comfortable, peppy and fun to drive – even in the fuel saving modes, but it’s a blast to drive in Sport Mode. With the Federal rebate at $2,500 you’re very close to off-set the cost of the Hybrid, but you get the far superior fuel economy and if you have a short commute you might never use any gasoline! To be perfectly honest, this is a very good option until full electric vehicle prices come down from the stratosphere in about 4 or 5 years from now. Oh, and in Ontario you get a green licence plate, so you can drive in the HOV lane as a lone occupant at or below the speed limit like everyone else
Unique EV/PHEV Fuel Economy etc
When we picked up the Escape the battery was fully discharged. Once we got home we recharged the battery from 7pm-7am. Thanks to the FordPass app you can set up charging times, warm/cool (pre-condition) the interior for your desired departure time, lock/unlock the door, start the vehicle, keep an eye on your charge, range fuel consumption etc. as well as many other features.
Full recharge (from empty) in 3.5 hours – 240v or 10-11 hours using 110v outlet
The next morning here’s what we had… [pics]
Ford claims it would be 10 hours at 110v, but obviously after 12 hour 10 minutes we still weren’t fully charged (we’d set it to 95% charge).
Cost: 9 kWh at 11.66¢ (all taxes etc. incl) = $1.05. As I write this gas is at $1.79/litre
Never-the-less, maximum range on the battery is a disappointing 30kms. Numerous outlets claim the battery range is 50+kms and US outlets claim 33-38 miles (53-61 kms) of range, but I found no official claims from Ford. One can only assume the maximum range is achieved using stop and go with the regenerative braking to extend the range over 30 kilometres.
Day 2 – round trip
Trip 1: Total distance travelled – 26.5 kms.
Started with 459 kms in tank + 27 kms electric. Arrived with 434 kms fuel + 21 kms electric
Actual Fuel used: 25 kms (459-434). Trip summery says I did 6.3 L/100 km
Trip 2: Total distance travelled – 27.8kms.
Started with 434 km of fuel + 22 kms in electric. Arrived with 432 kms fuel + 1 km electric
Actual Fuel used: 2 kms (434-432)!!
During trip 2, I put on cruise control and used up 21 kms of electric on the highway at 115-125 km/h. Trip summery says I did 2.6 L/100 km
@ 6,768.5 (0km/h) 21 km e / 434
@ 6,776.5 (124km/h) 10 km e / 434
@ 6,794.0 (125km/h) 1 km e / 432
Day 3 – After using up the entire battery yesterday, we plugged it in overnight and woke to an interesting anomaly… according to the FordApp we had 39 or 40 kms of range (depends on what screen we were looking at on our phone). We still used the same amount of electricity – 9kWh to get to 100%
It came in at 40 kms each morning thereafter – except the final day…which was 43 kms.
Start: 43 km electric / 406 km km till empty / Odo: 6854.8
~ Filled Up – 32 elec / 560 km till empty / Odo: 6863.0 – Switched to Econo Mode
Half Way: 30.5 kms / 29.8 in electric / 0.2 L/100km @116 km/h
Destination: 66.1 total kms / 41.0 electric (0 left) / 2.8 L/100km / 528 till empty
During one week of driving in the city, country highway and freeway here’s the total breakdown…
Starting kilometres: 6,659 ~ Ending kms: 6929 ~ Total distance travelled: 270
Fuel: $20.00 + approximately $4 in electricity / 12.35 Litres Average 4.5574 L/100km
NOTE: the gas tank was obviously not 100% full when we picked it up. The fuel gauge said it was 459 kms till empty, but when we dropped it off it was 528 kms till empty – that’s a 70 kms difference PLUS the 30 kms we’d driven. Doing a quick calculation, the actual number for the week should be 3.338 L/100km!!!
Copyright © 2022 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland