Ford Escape PHEV — Electric power for the chores of life

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(February 27, 2022) You are probably aware of all the electric car hype, but aren't ready to consider an EV for a variety of reasons such as price, availability of charging stations in your area, the cost of installing a Level 2 charger, and because you have nothing against the modern internal combustion engine (ICE). Perhaps if you dipped your toe in the electric pool you could get a better handle on electric ownership?

We have a deal for you in the form of a 2022 Ford Escape plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The Escape includes a gas engine — so there's no range anxiety — paired with an electric motor. You won't need to install a special battery charger or put a 240 outlet in your garage because the 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged overnight in about 11 hours on 110 current.

If your have a Level 2 Charger or a 240-volt outlet, the battery can be charged in 3.3 hours. And a full battery will get the Escape 37 miles down the road on electricity only. After that, the car switches to regular hybrid operation. If your daily needs usually fall below 35 miles for grocery shopping, transporting kids to and from school, or commuting to and from work, you may seldom need the gas engine, thereby significantly cutting back on gas station visits.

How much electricity will it use? After just a week and a couple of electric fill-ups, we don't know, but almost certainly less than the equivalent of more-than $3.50-a-gallon-gas. In electric mode only the Escape is rated at 105 MPGe (gas equivalent), and if you don't keep the batteries charged, gas mileage in standard hybrid mode is still a very good 40-miles per gallon on regular gas.

The initial cost may be a factor in your purchase. The Escape plug-in starts at $33,895 in SE trim, jumps to $36,755 in SEL trim and to $39,830 for the top trim Titanium. Our test car with a few options came in at $43,025 including $1,245 destination charge. The standard hybrid starts at $26,800 and tops out at $37,135 in Titanium guise. But the plug-in hybrid is eligible for a federal tax credit of $6,843, which would reduce its cost below that of the standard hybrid.

The Escape plug-in hybrid combines a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine with an electric motor to make a combined 221 horsepower with published 0-to-60 time of 7.7 seconds. We found performance generally satisfying for all driving eventualities. We don't particularly care for the feel of a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is what propels the Escape, but we could live with it. We wish more manufacturers would consider a standard transmission for their hybrid vehicles — like Hyundai, for instance.

Using selectable driving modes, you can opt to use the stored charge right away; run on hybrid and save the charge for when it’s most advantageous; or choose an automatic setting that switches between hybrid or electric depending on driving conditions.
We weren't more than five minutes down the road in our first encounter with the Escape and we had the feeling we were driving a hatchback car rather than a sport utility — that’s how easy it was to drive. We think Ford may have imbued its redesigned crossover with more car-like traits on purpose to win over owners of the Focus and other discontinued car brands to retain those customers who no longer have the option of buying a traditional car at Ford dealerships.

The philosophy in developing the new Escape, which first hit the market as a 2020 model, seemed to be "create something for everyone." There is a model for nearly every taste including a lower-priced turbocharged three-cylinder that starts around 25 grand, the extremely fuel efficient hybrid that promises 40 miles per gallon, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4 making 250 horsepower with 0-to-60 time in the five second range, and new plug-in hybrid that is the subject of this review.

The current Escape offers more interior room than before, especially in the rear seat where two adults can live comfortably on long trips. A sliding second-row seat helps open up a massive 40.7 inches of legroom. Folding the rear seats yields 65.4 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, a useful amount for a two-row crossover.

Highlights of the new Escape include an eight-inch free-standing touchscreen, a head-up display, and a bundle of driver safety aids (rearview camera, automatic emergency braking and blind-spot warning among them) called Ford Co-Pilot360.

A downside to the plug-in hybrid is that it cannot be ordered with all-wheel drive, and that might be a deal breaker for people living in northern climates. You can get all-wheel drive in the Lincoln Corsair, the Escape's upscale sibling, but at a higher price point.

If you opt for the Escape plug-in, we recommend the mid-trim SEL, which has all the bells and whistles we would need including power liftgate, a 12.3-inc digital instrument cluster, and rain-sensing wipers in addition to the standard equipment. And it comes in a couple thousand less than the Titanium.

2022 Ford Escape PHEV


Base price: $33,895; as driven, $43,025
Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, electric motor
Horsepower: combined 221 horsepower
Transmission: Electrically variable-speed automatic
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 106.7 inches
Length: 180.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,884 pounds
Turning circle: NA
Towing capacity: 1,500 pounds
Luggage capacity: 30.7 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 60.8 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 11.2 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 105 MPGe; gas only 40 mpg
0-60: 7.7 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Toyota RAV4 Prime, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Kia Sorento PHEV

The Good
• Roomy, comfortable seating
• Easy to use controls
• 37 miles all-electric range

The Bad
• Cargo space below average for segment

The Ugly
• AWD unavailable