2023 Ford Escape Hybrid First Look Review: Mustang Mach-E Stepping Stone

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Not ready for Ford's fully electric crossover yet? The Escape Hybrid isn't a bad option.

With a swanky new front fascia and a better infotainment system, the 2023 Ford Escape Hybrid compact crossover is a more enticing prospect in a popular segment. As before, both normal hybrid and plug-in hybrid options are available. They each produce similar horsepower figures, but the PHEV benefits from an EPA-estimated all-electric range of 37 miles. Both sensible and sporty, there is a new ST-Line model with various sporty bits inside and out, while the PHEV continues to battle with more powerful rivals like the Toyota RAV4 Prime. As an efficient and practical option in this segment, the Ford Escape Hybrid deserves a place on your shortlist.


When Is The Ford Escape Hybrid Coming Out?

Available to order now, the release date for the Ford Escape Hybrid is set for early 2023.

2023 Ford Escape Hybrid Price And Competition

Naturally, the hybrids carry a premium over their gas-powered counterparts. The price of the 2023 Ford Escape Hybrid starts at an MSRP of $32,340 for the ST-Line, excluding a destination charge of $1,495. From there, it's $34,040 for the ST-Line Select, $35,965 for the Platinum, and $38,460 for the ST-Line Elite. The PHEV is only available in a single trim that will cost $38,500 in the USA.

Assembled in Louisville, Kentucky, the Escape PHEV is likely to meet the terms of the new Inflation Reduction Act which will enable it to qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500. However, the 2023 model had not yet been added to the list of qualifying vehicles at the time of writing; the 2022 model has.

In this segment, the 2023 Escape Hybrid has a number of strong rivals to worry about, including the two best-selling crossovers in America. That includes the new Honda CR-V Hybrid (starting MRP of $32,450) and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (from $30,225). Toyota also sells the RAV4 Prime PHEV, which justifies its high $41,590 starting price with a powerful 302-hp powertrain that'll leave most of its rivals eating its dust.


New Ford Escape Hybrid Exterior And Colors

Immediately noticeable compared to the pre-facelift model is the Escape Hybrid's new front fascia. With a restyled grille and flashy headlights, the exterior of the new Ford Escape Hybrid crossover resembles its Mustang Mach-E sibling more closely.

Since the hybrid comes in ST-Line trim by default, it gains a mesh black grille and a "coast to coast" LED light bar between the headlights on pricier versions. Along the sides, the ST-Line has stylish 18-inch Rock Metallic painted aluminum wheels, and at the back, there is a special skid plate and a single-wing spoiler. Also standard is a power liftgate, dual chrome exhaust tips, and black roof rack side rails.

The ST-Line Select adds LED fog lights, while the ST-Line Elite comes with 19-inch machined-face wheels. The model that has a more elegant aesthetic is the Platinum; it has a different grille and its own set of 19-inch wheels with dark tarnished painted pockets.

The lone Escape PHEV has a Piano Black grille with a chrome strip and 18-inch machined-face Magnetic alloy wheels with painted pockets. Regardless of the trim, a panoramic vista roof is available as an option.

Various colors are available for the Ford Escape Hybrid are available with minor variations from trim to trim. Starting with the ST-Line hybrid, you can choose from metallics like Agate Black, Rapid Red ($495), Star White ($995), Iconic Silver, Atlas Blue, Carbonized Gray, Cinnabar Red ($495), and Vapor Blue. Oxford White is the only non-metallic color and isn't compatible with the ST-Line Elite or Platinum.


Ford Escape Hybrid Dimensions

The dimensions of the Ford Escape Hybrid are typical for the compact crossover segment, with a length of 180.1 inches for FWD models and 181.2 inches for AWD versions. That's almost identical to the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid which has a base length of 180.9 inches. Without options, every model has a 66.1-inch height, while the width with the mirrors is 85.6 inches. The wheelbase is 106.7 inches.

Despite only being available in FWD configuration, the PHEV is still the heaviest at 3,870 pounds. The regular hybrid weighs 3,534 lbs with FWD and 3,668 lbs with AWD.


Ford Escape Hybrid Engine And Performance

We'll start with the non-PHEV model. This Ford Escape Hybrid has a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine. The four-cylinder unit is tuned for efficiency rather than power, and makes 165 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque on its own. With the electric motor, the combined output is projected to be 210 hp. However, Ford also quotes a separate figure of 200 hp, so its precise output is slightly vague but in that region.

Both FWD and AWD derivatives of the regular hybrid are available, and they use an electronic continuously variable transmission. As per previous independent tests with this powertrain, the Escape Hybrid isn't particularly quick and needs 8.7 seconds to go from 0-60 mph in AWD guise.

The Escape PHEV comes in FWD guise only and shares its 2.5-liter engine with the standard hybrid. With its electric motor, its total output of 221 hp may be higher, but as it is heavier, this limits how quick it is. Independent testing yielded a 7.7-second 0-60 effort for this model. That doesn't come close to the RAV4 Prime, which is around two seconds quicker to 60.

In EV Now mode, the Escape PHEV can be driven for short distances on electric power alone, and it won't awaken the gas engine even if you press the gas pedal to the floor. However, it isn't ideal on the highway as the SUV takes a lot longer to get up to speed. At lower speeds, the EV Now mode is more useful.


Range, Charging, And Battery Life

According to the latest available figures from the EPA, the Escape PHEV can manage 105 MPGe and 40 mpg combined, and Ford is targeting the same 37-mile all-electric range for the 2023 model. Despite the small 11.1-gallon gas tank, a total range of around 520 miles is achievable.

Using a normal Level 1 outlet at 110 volts, the Escape PHEV's lithium-ion battery can be fully recharged in 10 to 11 hours. With a 240-volt Level 2 charge, that time decreases to 3.5 hours.

Based on 2022 EPA specs, the Escape Hybrid with FWD returns 44/37/41 mpg city/highway/combined. If you specify AWD, those figures drop to 43/37/40 mpg. These models have a larger 14.3-gallon gas tank, and if the aforementioned figures are repeated for 2023, expect an excellent range of 586 miles for the FWD variant.


Ford Escape Hybrid Interior And Cargo

Although some cheap materials have let the Ford Escape Hybrid's interior down before, it scores high marks for space utilization, with greater legroom in the second row than in a Toyota Sequoia. The cargo space in the Ford Escape Hybrid is equally generous and measures 34.4 cubic feet behind the second row, or 60.8 cubes behind the first row.

As standard, the Escape Hybrid comes with an eight-inch touchscreen display and an eight-inch digital instrument cluster. Running Ford's Sync 4 software, we've previously enjoyed the speedy responses and logical layout of this system. Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, SiriusXM with 360L, and a six-speaker sound system are all standard.

The Platinum and ST-Line Elite are more generously outfitted with a 13.2-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. On all models besides the base ST-Line, you can upgrade the standard sound system to a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen unit.


The seats in all Ford Escape Hybrid ST-Line models are finished in a combination of vinyl and cloth, with Ebony as the main color and red stitching adding a sporty contrasting effect. An exception here is the Platinum which has Ebony or Space Gray seats in ActiveX upholstery. This upholstery has mini perforations and does a good job of looking like real leather. The PHEV has the same upholstery as the ST-Lines but is available with either the Space Gray trim or leather seats with quilting.

Every Escape Hybrid can be considered a safe vehicle. As standard, all models come with a blind-spot information system, cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, pre-collision assist, pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. Available is Intersection Assist 2.0 that can help to prevent a collision with a pedestrian when making a turn - a potentially life-saving feature. Blind-spot assist with a warning in the mirror, adaptive cruise control, and a 360-degree camera system are also available.


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