Tested: 2021 Ford Escape PHEV

Compact crossovers account for 25% of all new vehicle sales in this country. As Canadians swap cars for utility vehicles, manufacturers are scrambling to catch up to demand.

The Escape is the second-best selling Ford in the company’s extensive arsenal behind the almighty F150.

 

2021 Ford Escape PHEV (Photo: Garry Sowerby)

 

Putting current demand and future plans together, Ford has produced a plug-in version of the Escape hybrid.

A recent study by KPMG indicates a majority of shoppers are considering an electrified vehicle for their next purchase.

For many, a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is the perfect bridge between a combustion-powered vehicle and a pure electric one. Hybrids provide the efficiency and ‘green’ advantages of electric motivation. As a rule, PHEV take that to a different level, with more power and range.

Both have a ‘regular’ engine that comes into play, eliminating worries about limited range and the ever-present fear of running out of power with no charging station within reach.

 

2021 Ford Escape PHEV (Photo: Lisa Calvi)

 

Ford Escape PHEV offers up to 60 kilometres of pure electric driving before gasoline engine takes over

The 2021 Ford Escape PHEV has a 96 kWh electric motor, powered by a 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It is capable of powering the Escape for up to 60 kilometres at all legal speeds before running short of juice.

I managed 42 – 45 kilometres in a mix of suburban and highway miles in winter conditions. But, instead of finding a charging station or having to pull to the side of the road lifeless, the 165-horsepower gasoline engine took over seamlessly. Instantly I was provided with several hundred additional kilometres of fuel-sipping range.

 

2021 Ford Escape PHEV (Photo: Lisa Calvi)

 

At all times, the Escape PHEV has the ability to combine the output of the electric motor and gasoline engine for a total of 221 horsepower. When faced with severe grades, passing situations etc., the engine comes into play.

 

The best of both worlds? More accurately, a good compromise.

Pure electric vehicles are more expensive. They provide a great deal more power and a much longer range on battery power. Combustion-powered vehicles are lighter and less expensive. But they cannot top the efficiency of a hybrid, PHEV or electric vehicle.

The tester carried an NRCan rating of 2.2 (electric) and 5.8 (gasoline). The electric rating is a metric used by NRCan to compare the energy used by alternative-fueled vehicles compared to gas-powered conventional ones.

 

2021 Ford Escape PHEV (Photo: Lisa Calvi)

 

During a week of mixed used driving, I was able to travel more than 40 km on a fully charged battery with no consumption of gasoline. With the engine alone providing power, the Escape averaged 6.9 litres per 100 km.

 

If your average daily commute was less than 40 kilometres or so, it would be possible to avoid fuel costs.

Plug it in every night – 10-11 hours on a Level 1 (110-volt) or 3.5 hours on Level 2 (240-volt) charger – and you’d never have a fuel bill. Unlike a pure-electric vehicle, though, if the battery runs dry, you can continue with the gasoline engine.

So far, so good.

 

2021 Ford Escape PHEV (Photo: Lisa Calvi)

 

No all-wheel drive in the Escape PHEV could be a deal breaker for Canadians

But the Escape PHEV is front-wheel-drive only. Power, from battery and/or engine is sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission. The lack of AWD will be a critical factor for many Canadians, especially when the competition makes such all-weather security either as standard equipment, or available.

The Escape PHEV comes in three trim levels – SE ($37,849) SEL ($40,649) and Titanium ($42,949).

 

2021 Ford Escape PHEV- Titanium interior (Photo: Lisa Calvi)

 

A Federal rebate of $2,500 plus another $2,000 from the Nova Scotia government helps close the price gap between conventional vehicles and hybrids/PHEVs.

The tester was a range-topping Titanium model complete with a full array of features, including LED headlights, 10-speaker B&O audio system, heated steering wheel and front seats, adaptive cruise control, wireless charging, and a foot-operated power liftgate – I can never get these things to work, relying instead on the simple push of a button.

 

Highest safety rating for the top-trim-only LED headlights on the Ford Escape PHEV

A special mention to those LED headlights. Safety rating agencies now include headlights in their testing. Only the Titanium version of the Escape PHEV, with its LED headlights earns a coveted Five Star rating from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Administration) and a Top Pick from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

The interior included lots of plastic, including piano black and obviously-fake wood trim.

 

2021 Ford Escape PHEV (Photo: Lisa Calvi)

 

The Titanium trim gets a 31-centimetre infotainment screen, the other two get a 20-cm display. In all cases, Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system is a paragon of efficiency.

The fourth generation of the Ford Escape is available with pure-electric driving and the option of plug-in charging. This makes for an excellent urban commuter with the ability to drive well away from the city without worrying about charging facilities.

 

2021 Ford Escape PHEV (Photo: Lisa Calvi)

 

FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Ford Escape Titanium PHEV FWD

 

PRICE

Base: $43,749

As tested: $49,194 including freight

 

SAFETY

LED headlights, blind spot information system with cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, pre-collision system with automatic emergency braking, reverse sensing system, rear park sensors

 

STANDARD EQUIPMENT

Foot-activated hands-free liftgate, LED headlights, heated power mirrors, 10-speaker B & O Audio system, satellite radio, power heated front seats, tilt/telescope steering wheel, universal garage door opener, dual zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel, navigation system, remote keyless entry, Sync 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 18-inch aluminum wheels

 

SIGNIFICANT OPTIONS

Rapid red metallic paint, $450; Class II trailer tow package, $600; Titanium premium package, $2,300 (wireless charging, panoramic sunroof

 

MECHANICAL

DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.5-litre inline-4, 165 hp, 96 kWh electric motor, 220-horsepower combined, 14.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, continuously variable automatic transmission, front-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km)  2.2 electric / 5.8 gasoline

 

DIMENSIONS

Length, 4,585 mm; width, 2,174 mm; wheelbase, 2,710 mm; weight, 1,762 kg

 

COMPETITION

Hyundai Tucson Plug-in hybrid, Jeep Wrangler 4xe, Toyota RAV4 Prime

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