What, no PHEV? Ford Escape launches in NZ with petrol power only… for now
Search Driven for Ford for sale
Ford Escape ST-Line FWD
- Fast for a family SUV
- Comfortable ride
- Impressive standard equipment
- Bland from the outside
- FWD model can struggle for traction
- Where's our Escape plug-in?
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can rest easy for a little while yet. Ford New Zealand has launched its all-new Escape medium SUV sans the much-talked-about Plug-in Hybrid Electric (PHEV) version.
To be fair, it was never scheduled to arrive at the same time as the rest of the range. Demand in Europe (20,000 sold already, a waiting list of 10,000) meant it wasn’t going to get to Kiwi showrooms until January.
But there are now further delays following battery overheating issues in Europe, production is on hold and current customer cars have been recalled. Other manufacturers using the same lithium-ion cells, including BMW, have also been affected.
So don’t expect to see the Escape PHEV, which offers 50km of pure-electric running, in Kiwi showrooms until the second half of 2021. It’ll cost $60,990-$66,990 depending on specification.
For now, we have the new Escape in base, ST-Line and snazzed-up ST-Line X forms, all powered by a 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine making an impressive 184kW/387Nm. The $42,990 base car is FWD, the $47,990 ST-Line can be ordered with FWD or AWD (add $3k), while the top $55,990 ST-Line X is AWD only.
All 2.0l petrol models have an 8-speed automatic gearbox with love-it-or-hate-it rotary shift dial. The 2.5l Atkinson cycle PHEV employs an eCVT.
Escape arrives at the same time as the Puma compact SUV, but they’re very different models. If the Puma is very European in execution, the Escape is more American: lower and wider than the outgoing model, equal parts 4x4, station wagon and people carrier.
If you think it’s conservative on the outside, it’ll get your attention the first time you put your foot down. Escape has always been a brisk medium SUV and this one continues the tradition, deploying that 184kW effectively when exiting corners or overtaking. The numbers on the speedometer might even catch you by surprise sometimes.
Despite the straight-line go, the chassis is compliant – another way in which Escape feels quite American. The base car is softer than the ST-Line versions, but all err on the side of comfort.
It’s actually a pretty good compromise for Kiwi driving: lots of grunt for getting past those motorhomes on narrow roads, but nicely controlled body movement through those bumpy corners.
Even if you don’t think you need it, the AWD is handy for taming that power. We’ve had preview drives in the FWD ST-Line (above, in blue) and the AWD ST-Line X (below, in red) and the former definitely had some trouble getting that grunt down under duress.
Escape is well kitted-up across the range, including tech like adaptive cruise with stop/go, and intelligent speed assist.
It’s definitely family sized on the inside as well. The boot is 556 litres and load length can be increased by sliding the rear seat forward. The cargo cover is cleverly integrated into the tailgate, keeping it out of the way when loading.
The flagship ST-Line earns its “X” with “dynamic bending” headlights, power tailgate, 19in wheels, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with heating/memory for the front chairs, partial leather upholstery, panoramic roof, B&O audio and full self-parking ability.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic, FWD or AWD
ECONOMY: 8.6 litres per 100km