With life as it is right now, many of us have been feeling that our own homes are becoming some strange version of an Escape room. Sure the clues and ways to get out of the house are there, but is the will strong enough? Well Ford NZ’s new addition to their Escape range may well be the key. Not only is it big enough to take the whole family but being a PHEV, its range will ensure you’ll be a long way away before you need to refuel.
Globally, the Ford Motor Company is investing Billions of dollars (30 in fact) in getting their fleet electrified and although the new Escape PHEV is one of the first vehicles off the production line for New Zealand, it’s evidently the tip of a very big iceberg. In saying that, it’s a great start.
To the untrained eye (or even trained for that matter) the PHEV model looks identical to its fossil-fueled counterpart. It’s the same size and shape. Same sharp lines and even has the same ‘go everywhere’ attitude (I’ll get to that in a moment). But look a little closer and you’ll spot an additional fueling flap on the front wing and a few discrete hybrid badges dotted around. This Escape doesn’t boast about being a PHEV, it chooses to do it’s talking on the road.
Behind the scenes is a 14.4kWh battery pack that works in unison with a 2.5L petrol engine. Together they produce 167kW of power and 210Nm of torque, which is more than just fine for most. But it is the small SUV’s range that really impresses, as thanks to a 45L fuel tank and the ability to sip fuel through a microscopic straw (1.5L/100km) it’s able to go 748Km between stops (that’s more than Auckland to Wellington) and only emit 33g of gasses per km!
To add to this feeling of liberty, the Escape PHEV has four EV/Petrol usage modes varying from EV only (which gives you 59Km of battery only range) to using the petrol to recharge the battery level to full – genius.
With regards to charging, the Escape PHEV gives you the option of a trickle charge (which can be done overnight – 6 hours) or you may want to install a wall charger which will more or less half that time – sorry no DC fast charging as yet.
My review model was the (current) top of the line ST-line X and with it came all, and I mean all, the trimmings. From the sunroof on top to the likes of self parking and leather seats on the bottom – and everything in-between, this is a fully optioned vehicle.
As luck would have it, my review time came over the Xmas period which meant a bit of a time extension and of course – plenty of beach time. My wife tends to pack a lot when venturing out of the house but I have to say it all crams neatly into the Escape PHEV’s 517L boot, allowing passengers to breathe easy.
The PHEV is not the quickest off the mark in terms of 0-100km/h (it’s not trying to be a sportscar) but it doesn’t feel sluggish either. On the SH1 it sits nicely at 100km/h with low revs and makes best use of it’s hybridness whenever possible.
I have to say that the EPAS steering feels interesting, there is a constant interaction that reminds me of a playstation wheel, it’s not uncomfortable, just different and noticeable, especially on a straight highway.
Venturing into the curves and bends territory is a different matter though, despite the Escape PHEV tipping the scales at 1,843kg, it has a nice sense of fun about it, and is quick enough for me to be given a stern look from my partner.
The eCVT box is smooth and not overtly CVT like but the ‘dial’ selector is not for everyone I’m sure.
Aside from the ability to vary powertrain delivery, the Escape PHEV also comes with a multitude of driving modes, from Slippery and Wet to Eco and Sport, each coming with a unique display on the instrument cluster, it’s a nice touch.
And on the subject of nice touches, door rim protectors automatically present themselves when you open the door, so as not to chip the paintwork should the wind catch it in a car park.
Even with my extended review time, there was absolutely zero need for me to head to the petrol pumps (which at nearly $3 a litre I was pleased about). Yes plugging in at night is not the ideal way to end a drive but when it adds (in my real world test) around 50+ Km of EV only range, it increases the smugness you feel when driving the Escape PHEV.