Ford’s Escape has been a top selling compact SUV for the carmaker, and the 2023 model will surely maintain this momentum.
The 2023 Escape received updated styling lines that take on a coupe-like look. It also received added high-tech features, and for those not sold on EV’s, the Escape is offered as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that provides the best of both worlds. This, in addition to a hybrid version that increases its overall attractiveness.
Escape is offered with four engine options and seven trim models of Base, Active, ST-Line, ST-Line Select, Platinum, ST-Line Elite and tested PHEV.
Aside from its classy exterior, Escapes’ interior is equally as attractive with its quilted and supportive Sport leather front seats and a 13.2-inch display. The infotainment display serves multiple systems including audio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity, Ford Pass Connec (that includes vehicle locate, vehicle health alerts, 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot capability), HVAC functions, nav and a rearview camera with overhead and close-up views. It’s a vivid screen, but it does take the eyes off the road momentarily when making selections when compared to traditional knobs and push switches that can be used by feel after an acclimation period. And when displaying the HVAC/Climate screen, it only stays on for 12 seconds, then reverts back to the home screen. Be nice if it would stay on, unless that’s an option I wasn’t aware of.
The nicely designed console houses a rotary transmission gear selector that more carmakers are switching to, and it’s actually easier to use than a steering or console mounted shifter.
Sharing the console is a wireless phone charger with receptacles for wired charging and HVAC controls that are located on the touchscreen.
Over on the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, it serves a multitude of features, functions and alerts. And it’s customizable to the owners’ preferences.
As for the rear seat, it’s not only comfy with good leg room and head room, but of special significance is that they slide fore and aft to increase leg room, or increase cargo space, or a spot in-between.
Back in the spacious cargo area, and with the rear seats upright, there’s 34.4 cubic feet of space that measures 34 inches deep, 42 wide and 30.5 high. Flip the rear seatbacks and cargo loading depth expands to 65 inches. And with a 27-inch lift-over into the cargo area, this low height makes loading heavy, bulky items easier.
Powertrain wise, the PHEV test car came with a CVT transmission and a 2.5-liter, Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder that in combination with the electric system, puts out 221-hp and 155 lb/ft of torque for a combined 105 MPGe mileage economy, or 40 mpg in gas-electric mode. It has an EV-only range of 37 miles. And it had loads of gusto.
My first long trip with the Escape PHEV was from Allentown to King of Prussia Mall and back and it only used an impressive quarter tank of gas. Had we taken my wife’s SUV or my pickup truck, it would have been at least a half tank of petrol.
Escape was also a pleasure to drive and ride in on Michelin 18-inch tires. It parked easily, was nimble and was stable in sharp turns and stiff crosswinds. There was some discernible wind noise at max turnpike speed coming from the driver’s side window, but ceased during around town driving.
The Escape PHEV came with a host of safety features such as cross traffic alert, lane keeping assist, pedestrian alert, post-crash alert system, reverse brake assist (which is a great accident preventer when backing up and another vehicle or pedestrian crosses), tire pressure monitoring and more. Included too was Park Assist that can automatically park the Escape.
Price wise, Escape’s base price came in at $38,500. Added to that was the White Metallic Tri-Coat paint ($995), PHEV Premium package ($4,500) that included a long list of features and safety functions, Panoramic sunroof ($1,595) along with delivery ($1,495) took the bottom line to $47,115.
To its credit, Escape received government five-star safety ratings of four stars for driver frontal crash, five for passenger; five each for front/rear seat side crash.
Escape is covered by a 3 year/36K mile basic warranty, 5/60K powertrain, and an 8/100K all hybrid component coverage.
The only way Escape PHEV could be better is if it could be available with AWD instead of FWD. But that’s only offered with the non-PHEV models.
All in all, Escape PHEV is a great alternative to an EV SUV as it provides excellent economy, utility and a spacious interior for four adults. It deserves serious consideration.