Ford's 2020 Escape plug-in hybrid takes aim at Toyota RAV4 Prime

2020 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid has an estimated 37-mile electric range and a 100 MPGe.
2020 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid has an estimated 37-mile electric range and a 100 MPGe.
Kirsten Korosec

The 2020 Ford Escape plug-in hybrid — a first for the SUV — comes with an EPA-estimated 37 miles of all-electric driving range and 100 miles per gallon equivalent, stats that will put the redesigned model into competition with the new Toyota RAV4 Prime.

The Toyota RAV4 Prime has an estimated 42-mile EV range and 94 MPGe. Toyota unveiled the first plug-in hybrid version of the model at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2019. The vehicle is expected to hit dealerships in the U.S. this summer.

The Escape beats the Toyota RAV4 Prime on price. The Toyota RAV4 Prime starts at $39,220 (destination charge included, while Ford says the Escape will have a listed base price of $34,285, including destination charge. But Toyota's plug-in hybrid has more get up and go at 302 horsepower with an ability to do 0-60 mph in a projected 5.7 seconds versus the Escape PHEV's 209 hp. The RAV4 Prime is actually the most powerful four-door vehicle in Toyota's portfolio.

The 37 miles of EV-only driving range in the Escape illustrates the progress Ford has made with its hybrid technology. The smaller Ford Fusion Energi plug-in gets 11 miles less than the new Escape PHEV.

"The original Ford Escape was the world's first hybrid SUV and the all-new Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid represents how far we've come in technology and efficiency," Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product development and purchasing officer, said in a statement.

The Escape PHEV is part of Ford's $11.5 billion plan to electrify its portfolio.

The Escape PHEV comes with a fourth-generation hybrid propulsion system that includes a 2.5-liter cycle hybrid engine and a 14.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery

The Ford Escape PHEV has four modes that will allow drivers to choose how they want to use that electric power. Drivers who don't want to think about which option is best can opt for Auto EV mode, which lets the vehicle decide whether to run on gas or electric power.  The EV Now mode puts the vehicle on all-electric power, EV Later mode lets drivers switch to full gas-hybrid driving to conserve electric miles for later and EV Charge mode will charge the battery while driving and generate electric-only miles to use later.

This is a plug-in hybrid and so it comes with an AC charging port. Drivers can use a 110-volt Level 1 charger, an option that takes 10 to 11 hours to power up the battery, or use a 240-volt Level 2 charger, which has a shorter, estimated 3.5-hour charging time.

The Escape PHEV comes standard with advanced driver assistance system features such as adaptive cruise control and lane centering, evasive steering assist and a voice-activated navigation system.

The plug-in hybrid system is available on every Escape trim level except S and SE Sport, according to Ford.

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