After a delayed start in the market due to minor battery issues, the 2021 Ford Escape PHEV is now on sale, hoping to take some of the spotlight away from the Toyota RAV4 Prime. Our latest video covers the plug-in Escape in-depth and demonstrates how it just doesn’t measure up to its main competitor.
Despite this, the Ford Escape PHEV has two very important things going for it: efficiency and price. Our week-long test of the car showed a combined MPG figure of over 80 miles per gallon when we tried to mimic a short work commute. That number was achieved with nightly charging, which allowed the Escape to do roughly 35-37 miles of EV range before relying solely on the gas engine. That efficiency comes at an affordable price, too. In California, for example, our test car costs just over $33,000 with incentives baked in.
Those are two big wins for the Escape, and arguably the two most important points that it needs to nail. Unfortunately, it does little to compel beyond that. The crux of the problem is an underwhelming design that feels downmarket from other small SUVs in this price range. This was an issue when we first drove the Escape in 2019, and it remains true in the plug-in version years later.
Where the platform-sharing Bronco Sport delights with fun material choices and interesting shapes, the Escape is chock-full of dull, dark plastic. Compared to the RAV4 Prime the Ford is down on some comfort features like ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, while it also loses out on overall cargo room. There, the Toyota wins with 3.0 cubic-feet more space behind the rear bench.
On the road, the Escape is a pleasant daily commuter, with well-damped suspension that handles bumps with grace. On the highway, there is little to report in the way of excessive noise, apart from the gas engine, which makes its presence known when it fires up.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder is good for 165 horsepower on its own, but total system output is 200 hp. For an SUV that weighs just shy of 4,000 pounds that power is sufficient, but it’s notably slower than the RAV4 Prime and its 302 hp. However, we appreciate the Escape has several drive modes to pick from, including EV-only and one that lets the engine recharge the battery like a generator.
To get our full impressions on the Escape PHEV, give the above video a watch. And if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to our YouTube channel to ensure that you don’t miss any of our weekly content.
Gallery: 2021 Ford Escape PHEV: Video Review
2021 Ford Escape PHEV SEL