2022 Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid
The Ford Escape has been a good seller in the midsize SUV market but was never able to grab the top spot in the US. The execs in Dearborn were clever to add a hybrid powertrain again; they were the first ones to put it in a midsize SUV back in 2004. The Ford Escape Hybrid won the North American Truck of the Year award in 2005! Ford decided to phase out the hybrid variant in 2012 to focus on the then-new Ecoboost engines for the third generation. The hybrid is back; there is even a plug-in hybrid version, which we got to test for this review. Our test model has an MSRP of $51,249 and is manufactured at the Louisville, KY, plant.
The Escape has adopted in this latest generation a more friendly-looking approach. That headlights are great, and the running lights shaped like a boomerang, although far from revolutionary, help to mitigate the smiley-looking grille. The 18-inch wheels look great, especially with the colour on our test model. In the back, a less divisive look, with LED brake lights and black cladding on the lower parts of the vehicle. Ford has two midsize SUVs in its lineup, and the Bronco Sport was designed to be more rugged, thus making the Escape more urban-like and appealing to different buyers.
When you step inside the Escape, it has a few colours to distinguish itself from other models in the same category. The wood panels on the dashboard and the doors help create a warmer experience. The two-tone seats also contribute, they offer decent back support, but the cushion is somewhat small for taller drivers. The interior room is quite good for a compact SUV; adults can sit front and back, and the cargo space is also large enough to carry all sorts of objects, whatever your favourite activities are. The large 12.3-inch fully digital instrument screen is in the driver’s seat. The speed and the power from both the electric and combustion engine are displayed prominently on the sides; the only part of this screen you can modify is in the center with the trip information, media and basic navigation info. We wish it would be a little bit more configurable. The central infotainment screen is also good enough; it does everything you need. Unfortunately, there is no wireless Apple Carplay or Android Auto; besides this, it’s quick to respond, and the menus are always easily accessible. The biggest highlight here is the Bang&Olufsen (B&O) 10-speaker sound system which is an excellent addition for all types of music.
The rest of the center console is pretty straightforward. The climate controls are all buttons; thank you very much! We found it curious that the heated steering button was placed next to the passenger’s side heated seat control, but this is a tiny detail. Then you’ll find the rotary gear shift dial, a shifter used on many other Ford models for years at this point. Moving on to the safety aspect, the Ford Escape PHEV is equipped with the Ford Co-pilot 360 Assist +, which is adaptive cruise control with lane centring assist and a speed sign recognition that is always useful. You also get Pre-collision warning and Blind Spot Monitoring, all the driver’s technology needed to keep you as safe as possible. A quick word on car seats, the ISOFIX ports are accessible in the back seats, and the rear anchor is also within range. Kids can step in and out of the Escape like grownups since the vehicle isn’t too high.
Now for the driving portion, let’s start, as always, with the numbers. The Ford Escape has three engine choices: a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.5L engine (181hp), a turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0L engine (250hp) and a four-cylinder 2.5L Atkinson-cycle engine combined with two electric motors. In a pure hybrid setup, the vehicle has a 1.1kWh battery (200hp) or, like our test model, a 14.4 kWh battery (221hp). Both gasoline engines are coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and both hybrid models are equipped with an eCVT for enhanced fuel economy. As for power, as mentioned earlier, the PHEV model produces a total of 221hp and 155lb-ft of torque. The 0-100kph time is estimated to be around 9.2 seconds, which is relatively slow yet, seems snippier in real life.
The acceleration is pretty sharp up to 70-80kph, then it will start to fade away, thus explaining the abysmal number. But don’t kid yourself; this vehicle never had any sporty ambition; you want to drive in electric mode as much as possible. Steering isn’t overly assisted, enough to park quickly and feel connected to the road. The suspension is tuned to be softer due to the increased weight of the battery, there’s plenty of body roll, and you may feel the balance shifting to the front when braking, although nothing alarming. While you can order gasoline or pure hybrid cars with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the PHEV models are limited to front-wheel drive only. That’s a shame since the competition offers both; we tested it in the snow, which is tricky from a standstill position. The Stability control was quick to respond and move the vehicle, it’s a little annoying, but you get used to it quickly. Ford passed the all-wheel drive version to Lincoln, their luxury division. A model we also tested, so keep following, as you will get an update soon.
A quick word on charging, range and fuel efficiency: the electric range is estimated to be around 61km in battery mode. In freezing temperatures, we averaged 50km, which is impressive considering that we turned the heating on the whole time. Charging takes about 3,5 hours on a level 2 and about 12 hours on a household-style outlet. As for fuel efficiency, when the battery is empty, you can expect to average about 5.8L/100km, precisely what Ford announced on its website. The Escape PHEV is an excellent vehicle in that aspect.
In other words, the Ford Escape PHEV is a great all-around vehicle with an excellent electric range, decent interior room and good fuel economy. While it may not be the best design or driving dynamics, it remains a great option to impact the environment and save money on gas. We had the Titanium trim level, and if you opt for the SE or even the SEL, you will save even more money.
Ford has lent us this vehicle as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Ford Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion.