Ford has now entered the compact SUV/crossover PHEV segment with the Ford Escape. Right off the bat, the EPA rated EV range of 37 miles catches the attention, especially with a just under $34K starting price. The Ford Escape PHEV is also rated to tow, however, its 1,500 lb towing capacity is not so impressive. There is also a key feature that’s missing which is also a bit bizarre, no AWD option?! I also want to discuss the lack of EV power too.
Key Ford Escape PHEV Specs
- Official Towing Capacity – 1,500 lbs
- Availability – Now
- Price – Starting $33,940 (SE) > $39,185 (Titanium)
- EPA – 37 miles pure electric range
- Combined (city/highway) – 105 MPGe and 40 MPG
- Maximum Charge Rate – 3.5kW (Standard) > 7kW (Optional)
Ford Escape PHEV HP & Torque
- FWD: Combined output of 221 HP and unknown torque figure
- 2.5L Gas Engine: 165 HP and 155 lb-ft of torque
- Electric Motor: 118 HP and 129 lb-ft of torque
Ford Escape PHEV Towing Capabilities
While I’m happy that Ford has given the Escape PHEV an official towing capacity (unlike the Mach-E), at just 1,500 lbs its a disappointment really. Especially when you consider it is possible to spec none PHEV versions of the Escape up to a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs (2.0L EcoBoost AWD).
However, some sort of towing capacity is better than no towing capacity at all, but really, you’re very limited to what you can tow at 1,500 lbs, we’re talking small cargo trailers and micro/teardrop campers. But let’s presume for a second that towing capacity is sufficient for your needs and let’s focus on the positives.
The 37 miles of pure EV range as rated by the EPA is pretty respectable for the current compact SUV segment. Granted, its not as good as the RAV4 Prime at 42 miles, but you’ll be paying significantly more for the RAV4, and at the moment they’re as rare as hen’s teeth to order new.
However, I do have a couple of problems with the Ford Escape PHEV, namely the power of its electric motor and the lack of an AWD option. First, let’s discuss the feeble EV motor.
Severely Lacking In Electric Power
Ok, so checking the key specs above you will see that the Ford Escape PHEV has (drum roll please) a single 118 horsepower electric motor. Now, you may state, but its only rated to tow 1,500 lbs, does it need any more than a combined 221 HP when the engine is also running?
Well, personally I think it does, and the reason is not to do with towing, its to do with using the car when not towing. I only want to talk about PHEVs on this site that can achieve above 30 miles in EPA rated EV range, so besides towing, they can run on electrical energy most of the time.
While the Ford Escape has a pretty respectably sized 14.2 kWh battery which provides that practical 37 miles of EV range, will you be able to drive 37 miles without engaging the engine? Well, with only 118 horses on tap from the electric motor in EV mode the Ford Escape PHEV is slow, we are talking a zero to sixty time of around 15 seconds.
Therefore, when you put your foot down in the Ford Escape PHEV in EV mode the dashboard asks you do you want to engage the ICE for more power? With a zero to sixty time of around 15 seconds, I can imagine many people would want to engage the ICE due to frustration with how slow the car is in pure EV mode.
No AWD Option Is A Bizzare Choice By Ford
When it comes to towing, the preference should always be AWD, then RWD and as a last resort FWD. Tyre choice makes a big difference when it comes to traction. Though at the end of the day, more power where the weight is gives the best traction.
Is a FWD drivetrain sufficient for a towing capacity of 1,500 lbs? In dry/mild climates sure, as the Ford Escape is not brimming with power I can see there being relatively few issues with traction while towing a relatively low weight trailer/RV.
However, what about when not towing, and let’s say you live in a climate that gets at least some snowy weather and icy conditions, well AWD is pretty reassuring. Consumers know this, and AWD is a key feature looked for in a crossover/compact SUV.
Therefore, I find the lack of an AWD option with the Ford Escape PHEV really bizarre. Not only as AWD is offered by the direct competition to the Ford Escape PHEV, but also because you can get AWD in the standard hybrid version (HEV) of the Ford Escape?!
Reviews Of The Ford Escape PHEV
I’ve got two reviews of the Ford Escape PHEV that I wanted to reference, the first is by TFL. Nathan does a good job going over the pros and cons of the vehicle. However, I wanted to reference this review as Nathan shows just how slow the Escape PHEV is when in EV mode.
If anyone is looking for a really in-depth review of a vehicle and its capabilities if there is a video available I’ll often direct people over to Alex on Autos. As such below is Alex’s review of the Ford Escape PHEV.
When it comes to the power/speed in EV mode while Alex does discuss the 0-60 time he personally states he didn’t find it an issue. Therefore, if you are really light on your right foot while driving you may be ok with just 118 horsepower from the EV motor.
My Thoughts On The Ford Escape PHEV…
The Escape PHEV has a pretty decent and practical EV range at 37 miles, however, I really do feel the drivetrain is let down by the tiny 118 HP electric motor. Personally, when accelerating I would find that lack of power very frustrating and tempted to engage the gas engine.
That’s not what I’m looking for from a PHEV personally, if it has EV range I want to be able to use that EV range to the best of its ability. Then we come to the 1,500 lb towing capacity with the Ford Escape PHEV.
Part of me is disappointed by its towing capacity. However, I also think its probably right, as with the relatively low power figures and only FWD towing more would really show up the limitations of the powertrain even more.