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Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Offers Interesting Alternative to Bolt EUV

Those who are looking for an affordable EV crossover with a cost in the mid-$30Ks should check out Ford’s Escape PHEV Titanium.

The options for electrified vehicles continue to expand. This year Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 and other battery-electric vehicles enter to give ID.4 and Mustang Mach-E shoppers some alternatives. However, look at the prices of anything but the base trims and you will find that a budget in the low $40Ks is the real starting point after incentives. Vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle are outselling these affordable battery-only electric crossovers and for many good reasons beyond just cost.

Related Story: 5 Plug-in Hybrid EV Myths Battery-Electric Purists Wish Were True

Escape PHEV Titanium Price
The Escape PHEV we tested had a sticker price of $43,025, meaning that after federal and state incentives it would have a cost to a consumer in EV-friendly Massachusetts of around $35K. Most recent Ford Mustang Mach-E shoppers we polled report having paid MSRP or less before incentives, so there is a good chance that by using a Ford purchase program or by shopping around you might also do so when buying this electrified model.

Energy savings are an important factor when considering a PHEV. The EPA estimates the Escape PHEV will have an annual energy cost of about $850. By contrast, the base Escape will cost its owner about $1,700 for gas. Over fifteen years of ownership, the Escape PHEV will save its owner $12,750 by comparison to the gas-only Escape. Now how does that $35K initial cost estimate look? Why anyone would shop for a vehicle without a plug in 2022 is a mystery to us.

Escape PHEV Titanium - The Drive
The most remarkable thing about the Escape PHEV when driven is its refinement, quiet operation, and smoothness. The vehicle has a very chill vibe and you will find that is a relaxing car in which to drive like an adult. Looking for big torque and a sporty demeanor? Ford has you covered. Just ask for that Mustang Mach-E when you visit your dealer and add 30% to your budget.

We found that the Escape PHEV accelerates quite acceptably in around-town driving. We drove almost exclusively in EV Mode except for highway stretches, where it makes sense to use either “normal” hybrid mode, or save the battery for later when it is more enjoyable and efficient to do so.

Image of Ford Escape PHEV charging by John GorehamEscape PHEV Titanium - EV Range and Hybrid Fuel Economy
During a week of testing, we used approximately a gallon of gasoline to travel roughly 200 miles. Only one trip used that gas, even though we drove the car every day. This is typical for most PHEV owners. Temps ranged from single digits to about 30 F during our week of testing. A full charge of the battery yielded a 29 mile estimated range. However, in our actual driving, it was longer than that. We know because we would mark our starting miles with a zeroed trip odometer and then drive longer than the miles estimated by the computer. In other words, don’t panic if you don't see the 37-mile range the EPA estimates. It’s real. Just not every day, and the conservative range estimator doesn’t want to lie to you. Better to under-promise and over-deliver.

Image of Ford Escape PHEV EV range by John Goreham

About 30 to 35 miles of EV range is more than enough to do almost everything most Americans do in a vehicle on a daily basis. When the EV battery ran out, we observed a 37 MPG highway fuel economy. Quite good, and about 25% better than a conventional crossover this size. You are reducing gas usage and emissions in every scenario with the Escape PHEV. Sometimes it is a zero-local-emissions EV, sometimes a very efficient hybrid.

Related: Truth Unplugged - Data Helps Disprove Critics’ Main Complaint About Plug-In Hybrids

In my normal daily use around town, shuttling a ten-year-old to her various activities, shopping, going to the gym, and one trip to a home improvement store, we were 100% electric. I have a level 2 charger in my house that cost just $199 and it can charge a vehicle like the Escape PHEV up very quickly. For example, it can easily charge the vehicle from zero to 100% battery capacity overnight. More often, I was parking it between trips and charging from about 25% to 100% state of charge in about ninety minutes. As you can see in the image, charging is super simple. My charger is located next to the driver's door in my garage. Ford has a one-touch opening system for the charger port, so even while carrying something in one hand, it's easy to pop open the charger port, grab the handle, and plug in.

Escape PHEV Titanium - Best Features
Features we liked in our Titanium trimmed Escape PHEV included heated seats and steering wheel, and Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. There is a perfect phone holder and the interior is very well laid out. Like every modern Ford, the infotainment system is excellent.

Ford Escape PHEV no spare image by John GorehamEscape PHEV Titanium - What Is Missing
Missing features we would want begin with all-wheel-drive. Ford does not offer the Escape PHEV with it. Also, we would have preferred phone mirroring to be wireless. Last, there is no spare in the Escape PHEV. You can get a spare and AWD in the Toyota RAV4 Prime should you wish to consider a more expensive model with similar interior volume. The pricey Jeep Wrangler 4xe PHEV comes with a matching full-size spare.

Escape PHEV Titanium vs. Chevy Bolt EUV
So why did we put “Bolt EUV” in the title? The reason is that it is a similarly-priced 2WD electrified vehicle and one of our favorites. The Bolt EUV checks off all the boxes we would look for in an around-town EV. However, Chevy is not returning it to market at any certain point. We checked this week and it is still off the market. Were we shopping for an EV in this cost range, the Bolt EUV and Escape PHEV would top our list. Since the Bolt is missing in action, we’d start with the Ford Escape PHEV and consider as alternatives the Toyota RAV4 Prime if we had another $5k in our budget.

Top of page image of Ford Escape PHEV by Ford. Other images by John Goreham.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

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