Even if you know what type of new vehicle you’re after, the profusion of choices is enough to make your head spin. Fortunately, models such as the 2022 Ford Escape PHEV stand out.
At first glance, Ford’s entry into the compact hybrid crossover segment may look unremarkable. Get past its low-key styling, however, and the best qualities of the top Titanium trim level I drove become apparent.
The main difference between this and other Escape models is a hybrid powertrain built around a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine ably assisted by a pair of electric motors for a total output of 221 horsepower. A continuously variable automatic transmission and front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is an option) help maximize fuel mileage.
The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) aspect of this powertrain adds to its ability to stretch a gallon of gas. Recharge its battery every night, and you’ll get up to 37 miles of all-electric operation before the gasoline-powered engine ever kicks on.
Besides the excellent fuel economy—EPA estimates for the PHEV are 105 miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (MPGe)—this setup delivers zippy performance.
The precise steering makes it feel responsive and easy to maneuver in tight parking lots, while the suspension feels ideally calibrated for confident handling and soaking up unpleasant road imperfections for a smooth ride. The interior’s low noise levels add to the pleasure of driving.
The comfortable cabin offers a heated steering wheel and front seats. Adult-size rear seats slide fore and aft to maximize legroom or cargo space. Out back, a 60.8-cubic-foot cargo hold and a power liftgate make that space easier to access.
My test Escape’s standard 10-speaker audio system included Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The touch-screen navigation system was intuitive and presented clear graphics and directions.
This family-oriented model offers all the expected advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking, along with high marks in government crash tests.
All these positives make the Ford Escape PHEV a small crossover that’s more impressive than it looks.
- Charging the battery pack nightly decreases your use of fuel.
- Nimble handling
- Relatively bland styling
- This new Ford is more impressive than it appears.
- NHTSA overall: 5 Stars (out of 5)
FUEL ECONOMY (MPGe)
- Base Price: $35,455
- Price As Tested: $41,780