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Sticker Shock: The 2024 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid FWD

2023 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid front 3/4 view

Ford gave its small Escape SUV a makeover for 2023---a cleaner, fresher, look inside and out.

2023 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid rear 3/4 view

The last time I drove an Escape was just about two years ago. It, like this one, was a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and was also last year's model---a 2021 vehicle in early 2022. The car you see here is a '23, but I'll update the pricing for a 2024 model at the end of the review.

2023 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid hood up

2024 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid powerplant

The mechanicals haven't changed. The Escape PHEV has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor. With a total system output of 210 horsepower, it's in between the base Escape gasoline engine at 181 hp and the 2.0-liter EcoBoost at 250. Figure on 0-60 times in the eight-second range.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV eco information display

The amount of pure electric range available per charge remains at 37 miles. What I found is that if someone else has driven the car before you and they've driven...well, may not believe that. The first two charges, the car insisted that a 100% charge was only good for 27 miles.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV driving coach

It had to learn my driving style. That included setting the driving mode to "Eco", sticking to the speed limit and remembering the old fuel crisis advice of driving like there's an egg between your shoe and the accelerator.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV brake coach

I also braked early and steadily up to stop lights and stop signs, maximizing regenerative braking. After two cycles of charging and driving like that, the Escape was forecasting 37 miles on pure electricity before the hybrid kicked in, and it delivered.

Because it's a small battery, even 110V household current is adequate for overnight charging. Which I did.

As a result, I never dipped into the gasoline during the week I had it, until I drove it one-way back to San Francisco to swap it for another vehicle (I was attending an automotive event in San Jose that day and it just made sense).

Here's the final result:

2023 Ford Escape PHEV trip computer

Of 182.7 miles driven, 123.3 were on pure electric power. That meant that my effective miles per gallon of gasoline were 80.1. And even having driven 59.4 miles using gasoline, I still had 371 miles of hybrid (gas/electric) range remaining.

That's what makes PHEVs so useful. Charge it religiously at home and you might go weeks without using a drop of gasoline or putting a particle of pollution in the air. A tank of gas could last months. But---if you need to go long distances, not only can you do that, but the fuel economy is stellar.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV rear liftgate open

There's generous cargo room behind the rear seats---34.4 cubic feet. Fold the second row down and it's 60.8.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV rear seat

Rear seat legroom is a strong suit of the Escape PHEV, as well, at 40.7 inches.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV front seats

2023 Ford Escape PHEV instrument panel

And here's where we get to the headline---"Sticker Shock".

The 2021 Escape PHEV we tested was an SE trim. Base price, including destination, was $34,320. Part of Ford's 2023 revision of the Escape was to make it available only as a top trim level, with a "PHEV Premium Package" available at extra cost beyond that.

The 2023 Escape PHEV you see here has a base price (including destination) of $39,995 (a $250 hike in the destination fee accounts for some of that).

And a 2024 Escape PHEV starts at $41,995 (again including destination).

The '21 Escape PHEV that I called "a really good deal"...well, I can't really say that now.

There is a strong list of standard equipment for that money---dual exhuasts with chrome tips, an electric fuel door release, LED foglamps and taillamps, privacy glass for the rear doors, a rear intermittent wiper, rear spoiler, roof-rack side rails, a center console with armrest, illuminated vanity mirrors in the visors, dual-zone automatic climate control, illuminated entry system, heated and wrapped steering wheel, both USB A and C ports, and a comprehensive suite of active safety features.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV steering wheel and instrument display

2023 Ford Escape PHEV center console

2023 Ford Escape PHEV center stack

Our test vehicle had extra-cost options, too---the aforementioned Premium Package (reverse brake assist, memory package, active park assist, 360-degree camera with split view, wireless charging, head-up display and a 10-way power driver seat) for $4,530, a panoramic vista roof for $1,595, and carpeted floor mats for $200. The only thing on our 2023 you can't get in 2024 is the Cinnabar Red Metallic paint, so swap in the extra cost paint color of your choice for $495 and the as-tested price of a 2024 Ford Escape PHEV is $48,815. That's $13,510 more than the bottom line on the '21's window sticker of $35,305.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV front view

2023 Ford Escape PHEV side view

That's perliously close to $50,000, money that will get you a Toyota RAV4 Prime with 42 miles of pure electric range per charge and 302 horsepower. Or the Hyundai Tucson Limited PHEV, with AWD and a higher base price, but everything except floormats standard, resulting in a lower number on the window sticker.

Small SUVs are a tough segment, and small plug-in hybrid SUVs tougher still. What the lower-spec Escape PHEV of the previous generation had going for it was a price advantage that's no longer there.


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