We drive the Ford Escape ST-Line X PHEV: power supply
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Ford Escape ST-Line X PHEV
- Good electric range
- Good to drive
- Good value for ST-Line X with $5750 rebate
- Not quite as quick as ICE versions
- On the conservative side
- Big premium for entry model PHEV
It’s been a somewhat difficult road for the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) version of Ford’s new Escape SUV.
The EV wasn’t presented as expected when the conventional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) range was launched in New Zealand back in November 2020.
It was originally going to be January for the PHEV, but then battery overheating issues prompted a global recall and eventual halt to production (other makers with the same hardware, including BMW, were also affected).
But now the Escape PHEV is here… almost. Ford NZ has a handful of vehicles in the country for demonstration, with ongoing supply from the third quarter. Short supply, though: an allocation of 30 per month for NZ, with a mix of $60,990 base and fully loaded $66,990 ST-Line X models.
And that’s at the expense of the ICE Escape. Like most of Ford’s European SUVs, it’s supply constrained and affected by everything from Covid-19 to the semiconductor shortage. Puma ST-Line is another that’s struggling.
“We got off to a good start last year with Escape,” says Ford NZ managing director Simon Rutherford. “We sold 404 in the first quarter. But we haven’t had a new car built since January this year, so no new stock since then.
“It’s been a disruptive year. In a funny way it’s the opposite of 2020, where we didn’t have demand, to 2021 where we have demand but can’t build the cars.
“We hope to start making petrol Escapes in August or September again, but we’ve started building PHEVs ahead of that.”
So the PHEV is absolutely The One in the Escape range for now, in many ways.
Prices and specification haven’t changed since the model was announced last year. That means two versions: a base $60,990 model ($18k more than the entry ICE vehicle that you can’t get anyway) and a fully loaded $66,990 ST-Line X that asks a smaller $11k premium over its ICE equivalent. Although it does without the AWD of its ICE sibling, both PHEV models being FWD-only.
The $5750 PHEV rebate applies of course, which shrinks those plug-in premiums back to $12,250 and $5250 respectively. So the ST-Line X in particular is starting to look like pretty good value.
The engine/motor combo is the same for both Escape PHEVs: a 2.5-litre Atkinson Cycle petrol engine combined with a 14.4kWh plug-in battery. Total output is 167kW, so slightly down on the ICE 2.0-litre’s 184kW. But you do get 59km of pure-electric range and Combined fuel consumption of 1.5l/100km in the PHEV.
We’ve had a quick spin in the Escape PHEV and it’s clear the model is intent on mainstreaming PHEV technology – arguably even more so than the popular Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, with which it competes.
You really can just get in and drive, although Ford does give you the ability to manage the power if you want to. It’s done through a single button: the PHEV defaults to EV Auto, where the car makes the decisions about whether electric, petrol or hybrid power is most efficient.
Each time you press that control button the car cycles through the other modes: EV Now (priority to pure-electric), EV Later (the current state of battery charge is held) or EV Charge, where the petrol engine replenishes the battery.
That last mode is also offered in the Outlander and it’s a bit of a head-scratcher to Kiwis. But it’s really aimed at European driving, where it’s important to have pure-electric power available when driving into congestion zones.
We’ve already been pretty impressed with the Escape’s speed, handling and space, and on first impression the PHEV loses little in comparison. It has very similar dynamic and practical qualities – it’s just that it uses vastly less fuel and you have to remember to plug it in at night.
It comes with a standard portable three-pin charger (about six hours plugged in at home), but a Type 2 AC cable is available through Ford’s accessories department for those bring-your-own-plug public stations. On a commercial grade 22kW AC station (common in malls or supermarkets), it can be charged in two hours.
The battery comes with an eight-year, 160,000km warranty.
“For the passenger side of the equation, this is the beginning of a number of EVs that we’ll bring to market,” says Rutherford.
Globally, Ford has invested heavily in pivoting to electrification: an initial $11bn for the likes of the Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning and partnerships with Rivian and Volkswagen (it will have access to the ID platform). But recently it committed another $30bn to electrify “key product icons” over time. Electric everything in other words.
FORD ESCAPE PHEV
ENGINE: 2.5-litre Atkinson Cycle petrol with plug-in battery pack and single electric motor
POWER: 167kW (combined)
GEARBOX: PowerSplit e-CVT, FWD