The Ford Escape is a deservedly popular crossover SUV. It’s been around for more than 20 years through four generations, and it hits an important market niche for affordable compact SUVs. The current generation shares its platform with the popular Bronco Sport SUV and the Maverick compact pickup.
The Ford Escape PHEV is a compact crossover SUV with a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle gas engine and an electric motor. According to the EPA, the Escape PHEV carries enough battery to travel up to 38 miles on electricity, which will cover most daily driving for the vast majority of Americans. Generally, the Escape is available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The PHEV trim is exclusively delivered with front-wheel drive.
Like most compact crossovers, the Escape is not intended for serious off-road use, the related Bronco Sport fills that niche. The Escape is a vehicle for urban and suburban singles, couples and young families. The Escape provides up to 37.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity and seats four adults comfortably.
The Escape PHEV is a nice-enough looking SUV, but like most vehicles in its class, it’s undistinguished from similar offerings. The Escape is all smooth curves, with plenty of shape to catch the light, at least when it’s new or freshly washed.
If you want something that’s a bit more rugged-looking and unique, there’s that Bronco Sport with the same mechanical underpinnings. The PHEV version doesn’t look different in any way from the standard Escape.
The 2022 Escape PHEV starts with a high trim level, either SEL or Titanium, so it’s much nicer than a base model, but you’re definitely paying for the better interior. The standard seats are heated and trimmed with partial vinyl and cloth, or you can get the Plug-in Hybrid Premium Package for an additional $4,530 and get perforated leather along with a bunch of other goodies.
Generally speaking, the Escape PHEV is laid out well, as you would expect. There will be no surprises or major reasons to complain, and most importantly, it’s comfortable with easy access getting in and out.
The Escape PHEV starts with a 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle gas engine. That’s not very different from a standard engine, but it uses different valve timing to burn its fuel more efficiently — at the expense of some engine power. That’s OK, though, because the PHEV has the electric motor to make up any power deficit.
The gas engine on its own makes about 165 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque, but with the electric motor helping, you can expect about 200 total system horsepower. Of course, if you’re using the PHEV correctly, you’ll be driving on the electric motor most of the time.
Rather than dwell on statistics, we’ll point out that the Escape in electric or gas mode has power that’s well-matched to the vehicle’s needs. You won’t win any drag races, but it’s a nice drive and you won’t feel like you’re in an underpowered ox cart, either. When the battery is depleted, the gas engine kicks in and the Escape PHEV drives like a hybrid. You won’t notice a power difference when running on gas.
Safety and Technology
Ford equips every Escape with its Co-Pilot 360 suite of advanced safety and driver assistance tech. That includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assistance, blind-spot monitor, auto high beams, and more. The optional Plug-in Hybrid Premium Package adds a 360-degree camera system, active park assistance, front parking sensors, perimeter alarm, reverse brake assist, and a keyless entry keypad.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the 2022 Escape PHEV as having a four-star frontal crash test rating and five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Escape PHEV as a “Top Safety Pick.”
An 8-inch touchscreen handles navigation and infotainment, while the driver’s display is presented on a 12.3-inch screen. A head-up display is optional, as is the upgrade B&O sound system. The infotainment runs Ford’s advanced SYNC voice control system, and that works just fine if you like voice control.
As we mentioned, the Escape PHEV is not one of your fast electrified vehicles, but it’s not bad either. It’s well-balanced and enjoyable. The best thing about running on electric power is the quiet operation. It’s enough to make you think about paying for the nice B&O sound system, since the stereo doesn’t have to compete with engine noise. Handling is similarly well-balanced. This isn’t a sports car, but it’s comfortable.
Part of living with a plug-in hybrid is plugging it in. This is one area where PHEVs have a big advantage over EVs. The Escape PHEV has about 520 miles of range if you start with a full charge and a full tank of gas. Fully charged, the Escape showed me 28 miles of range. The EPA says it will potentially go up to 38 miles, given optimal conditions. But even with the 28 miles available on a cold November day, that’s enough to get most people to and from work on electricity.
One nice thing about a 28-mile range is that you can easily charge up overnight on ordinary 120-Volt household current. You don’t need to have a home 240-Volt charging station installed. I ran an extension cord out of the garage into the driveway and it worked perfectly.
2022 Ford Escape PHEV Specifications
|Dimension||L: 180.5 inches/W: 74.1 inches/H: 66.1 inches/Wheelbase: 106.7 inches|
|Powertrain||2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine w/an electric motor; continuously variable transmission, FWD|
|Fuel Economy||105 MPG-e/40 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||200 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $39,185; As tested: $43,395 including $1,495 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The biggest fault I could find with the Escape Plug-In Hybrid was its price. With the high trim level and the plug-in hybrid driveline, sticker price on this little crossover is $43,395. Now, admittedly, several thousand dollars of that price may be reimbursed with federal and state tax credits. We’ll see how that shakes out next year.
However, if I was going to lay out that much money to begin with, I’d be tempted to get a full EV like the Chevrolet Bolt EUV with a 247-mile range, or something more comparable to the Escape like the Kia Niro PHEV or the Hyundai Tucson PHEV. Each of those alternatives is several thousand dollars less expensive than the Escape, and they may be eligible for the same tax credits. You could even get Ford’s hot new Mustang Mach-E electric for a few thousand dollars more than the Escape, if you kept it to the base specification.
Still, if you’ve been tempted to go electric, but range and charging has you worried, a stop at the Ford dealer to check out the Escape PHEV is worth your time.
2022 Ford Escape PHEV — Frequently Asked Questions
Can I pre-order a 2023 Ford Escape PHEV?
Yes, the order bank is open for 2023 and Ford is accepting orders for the Escape PHEV.
Does the Escape PHEV come with AWD?
No, the PHEV driveline uses FWD exclusively.
Is a plug-in hybrid good for long-distance driving?
Yes, it can handle a long-distance trip with no problems, but if you drive long distances routinely, a standard hybrid is likely a better choice. A plug-in hybrid is optimized for daily driving on electricity.