Add another model to the fuel-efficient SUV roster. Ford redesigned its Escape for the 2020 model year but it was introduced, three of its four powertrain options were available. Now, the fourth option is making its way to market – a plug-in hybrid electric system.
The 2020 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid delivers best-in-class EPA-estimated all-electric fuel economy rating of 100 MPGe combined and an EPA-estimated 37 miles of all-electric driving range. When running on strictly gasoline, the SUV gets 41 mpg.
MPGe, or miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent, is an Environmental Protection Agency metric to compare the amount of energy consumed by alternative fuel vehicles to what traditional gas-powered vehicles consume.
The Escape Plug-In Hybrid’s closest competition is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime. It’s a PHEV model that achieves 94 MPGe and gets 42 miles of all-electric rage.
The SUV looks the same as every other new Escape, except for its unique badging and power plug door, located on note driver’s side near the hood.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company
“The original Ford Escape was the world’s first hybrid SUV and the all-new Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid represents how far we’ve come in technology and efficiency,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer. “The all-new Escape plug-in has more power and more passenger space than the Fusion Energi plug-in, as well as up to four times the cargo volume behind its second-row seats.”
This Escape is powered by a new 2.5-liter hybrid engine and electronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Its liquid-cooled, 14.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery is positioned below the second-row seats.
The Escape Plug-In Hybrid has a Level 1/Level 2 AC charging port. Using a 110-volt Level 1 charger, the estimated time to fully charge the battery is 10 to 11 hours. Using a 240-volt Level 2 charger, charge time drops to roughly 3.5 hours.
The SUV’s battery is located under the rear seats so that it doesn’t disrupt cargo room in the model.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Hybrid models feature four drive modes: Auto EV, EV Snow, EV Later, and EV Charge. In Auto EV mode, the vehicle decides whether to run on gas or electric power. Using EV Now mode, drivers can operate on all-electric power. In EV Later mode, drivers can switch to full gas-hybrid driving to conserve electric miles for later. Ford’s new EV Charge mode allows drivers to continue to charge the battery while driving and generate electric-only miles to use later.
Every Escape comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360, a suite of driver assist and safety technology that includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go and lane centering. Active Park Assist is also available.
Buyers can get the PHEV powertrain on every Escape trim level except S and SE Sport. The Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid has a starting MSRP under $35,000.
That MSRP is lower than the RAV4 Prime, but the Toyota model’s over $38,000 starting price is reflective of the fact that it features mid-grade and higher features and equipment right off the bat.
Other engine options
AutomotiveMap has already reviewed the Escape’s other three powertrains as part of a larger 2020 Ford Escape review.
The 2020 Escape’s base engine is a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder (S, SE, SEL trim levels) that achieves 180 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque.
The available 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder (SEL, Titanium trim levels) is significant peppier getting 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
Both of those engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Escape Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder, which is paired with an electronic continuously variable transmission.
Looking for a fuel-efficient SUV that isn’t a plug-in? Check out AutomtoiveMap’s list of 20 SUVs with the best gas mileage here.