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The EscaPHEV – Ford Escape PHEV first drive

Yesterday we were invited to the unveiling of the new Ford Escape PHEV, which in their own words, ‘is the beginning of a number of electric passenger vehicles’ that will soon grace New Zealand’s shores. Not only did we get to hear all about this hybrid powered SUV but also got to take it for a drive around the block for an hour.

Ford Escape PHEV

But before we get to the Escape PHEV itself, let’s bring you up to speed with Ford NZ’s Electric future.

Simon Rutherford said, “the [motoring] industry is having to pivot quickly, so Ford has taken the opportunity to be customer focussed and transparent, careful to be informative about the changing landscape.” 

He said that their [Ford globally] emphasis is on design and innovation and their current $30billion investment is on electrifying their iconic nameplates (for which there are many), creating products that customers truly want.

Locally, there is a huge demand/limited supply issue with production schedules and smei-conductor restraints, but much of their EV vehicle focus for 2021 is on the EV Custom van, the eTransit and of course, the Escape PHEV.

EV Flap

Outwardly, the Escape PHEV is virtually the same as the regular Escape, aside from the additional ‘fueling’ flap on the near side front wing and a hybrid badge at the rear (although our test vehicles did come with PHEV emblazoned down the side).

There are two options available, the PHEV and ST-Line X PHEV, both are front wheel drive and the latter comes with the extra trimmings such as 12-inch instrument cluster, auto park and a head up display.


They are both powered by a 2.5L iVCT Atkinson cycle I-4 plug in hybrid which combined offers 167kW of power and boasts fuel-economy numbers of 1.5L/100km with CO2 emissions of 33g/km.

The 14.4kWh (48Ah) battery is located under the floor for a low centre of gravity and can be charged via a 3-pin wall plug for 6 hours or via a type-2 at 2-3 hours offering upto 59km of EV only range and when combined with the fossil fuel, 748km – range anxiety be gone!

Ford Escape PHEV

Before heading off, we unhooked the Escape PHEV from the charger, it has a nifty feature around the vehicle’s socket that has lights that show the level of charge, ours were at full.

EV button

Upon switch on, the Escape remains silent and just the green ‘ready’ sign in the instrument cluster lets you know you’re ready to go. A twist on the transmission dial (which is an eCVT) and you’re away.

EV modes

Not surprisingly, the Escape PHEV drives like an Escape and it’s very, very easy to get comfortable with. Stamp down hard on the accelerator and the petrol engine immediately cuts in, drive ‘normally’ and it switches back to EV/Petrol. You seriously have to do nothing.


However, should you wish to control the power, there’s a button down in the centre console that offers up four power modes, EV Auto (the easy way to go), EV now, EV later and EV charge (where the SUV uses the engine and regen braking to recharge the battery).

It’s not the quickest EV off the mark but in all honesty you’d be hard pushed to see the difference between the PHEV model or the regular (aside from the silence).

Ford Escape PHEV

I will be taking a closer look at this PHEV model soon, so stay tuned.

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