Updated: Mar 31, 2022
Regular readers know I see the logic in PHEVs---plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. They're a great bridge for someone who wants more than just a typical hybrid that's always using some gasoline and an EV that doesn't have gasoline for moments when range and speed matter.
It's been a couple of years since I last reviewed an Escape (on the old TireKicker site), and that one was a loaded top-of-the-line all-wheel drive unit. This one is a more modestly-equipped example, with a trick up its sleeve---the plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
Under the hood of the 2021 Ford Escape SE PHEV is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor. At 221 horsepower, it's got a bit more oomph than a standard gasoline-powered Escape, which has only 181, but a bit less than the optional Escape engine which puts out 250. None of them are especially fast, and the PHEV's 0-60 time is 8.7 seconds. The upside to the PHEV is the ability to drive a certain number of purely electric miles before the gasoline/electric hybrid kicks in. In the case of the Escape PHEV, that number is 37, which is high as PHEVs go. I was able to drive all but seven miles of my round-trip commute to my day job purely on electricity. If there'd been a charger at work, it could have been all-electric.
No PHEV I've encountered has DC fast-charging capability, so charging, like acceleration, requires some patience. It's 3.3 hours on a Level 2 charger and 11.1 hours on household current. Still, coming home at about 6:45 at night and plugging it in, the car was charged long before I needed to leave for work the next day.
If you remember to plug a PHEV in and use those electric miles before dipping into the gasoline/electric hybrid, the EPA rates the Escape PHEV at 105 MPGe. Forget to plug in, as, tragically, most American PHEV owners tend to do at least some of the time, and you get an even 40 miles per gallon. That's fine, but why leave 65 mpg sitting on the table, why pay for gas you could leave in the tank and why pollute more than you absolutely have to?
Beyond that, we're talking about all the attributes of a Ford Escape. The SE is actually the lowest of three trim levels of Escape PHEV. Base price is $33,075 and standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker audio system, and a full suite of active safety features.
The only extra-cost optional equipment on our test vehicle was $985 for the Convenience Package, which is a power liftgate, leather-wrapped steering wheel and 10-way power driver's seat. So, with $1,245 destination and delivery, the as-tested price of the 2021 Ford Escape SE PHEV is $35,305.
At this moment, in this market, that's a really good deal. If you're in the zone where you're ready for some electrification, but can't quite make the jump to full EV (and I'd argue there's probably a pure EV that would suit your needs just fine...), the Ford Escape SE PHEV is well worth a look.