26 August 2021

Ford Escape PHEV 2021 Car Review

EVs have accelerated onto the market in the last 12 months, and the new Escape PHEV is the latest plug-in we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing.

Ford Escape PHEV 2021
Ford Escape PHEV 2021
Ford Escape PHEV 2021
Ford Escape PHEV 2021
Ford Escape PHEV 2021
Ford Escape PHEV 2021
Ford Escape PHEV 2021

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) offer a low-emission bridge between the long range benefits of ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars and the shorter range, emission-free driving you get from a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

The Escape PHEV is available to order now from $60,990 (+ORC), with the model we reviewed - the Escape PHEV ST-Line X – available from $66,990 (+ORC).

A lot extra for a small price

You get a lot for your money for an additional $6,000 for the top-end model, which offers some great additional extras like sports-tuned suspension, an upgraded sound system, ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof, part-leather heated front seats and a sports steering wheel to name just a few. The driver’s seat is also electronically adjustable.

The ST-Line X also has a sportier look from the outside, with a more pronounced rear spoiler and body kit, 19-inch alloy wheels, glare-free headlamps and LED quad projector dynamic bending headlights.

Inside the cabin, the fit and finish is stylish and uses a mixture of soft touch and textured finishes - the padded headrests and thick spongy steering offer great levels of comfort.

The high-power, 10-speaker infotainment system by Bang & Olufsen creates a superior sound, but the plastic driver’s door pocket in the vehicle we reviewed unfortunately rattled when listening to any music with any bass.

Charging on the go

A great feature in this vehicle is the ability to put a good amount of charge back into the battery to rejuvenate the 59km range, without having to stop at a charge station.

The average fuel economy during our time with the Escape PHEV hovered around 4.4L/100km, but this was due to us not being able to charge the car either at home or at work. The Escape PHEV has a combined fuel efficiency rating of 1.5L/100km and a CO2 efficiency rating of 33g/km. This is impressive, considering the engine is by no means small at 2.5-litres. For owners with a small daily commute, you could quite easily achieve almost zero emissions thanks to an electric-only range of 59km.

Powersplit technology

For longer journeys, the conventional combustion engine is available to ensure you can travel much longer distances without refuelling. ‘Powersplit’ technology helps recharge the hybrid battery as you drive, while energy captured through regenerative braking also helps to extend your electric range even further. It’s expected that you could achieve 748km on a tank of fuel and one full charge.

In the Escape PHEV, you simply switch to ‘Hybrid’ mode when battery power is depleted. This means you never have to worry about range. There are also four EV modes: EV Auto, EV Now, EV later and EV Charge - you can utilise your battery power to best suit your journey.

The new Escape is longer, wider, and lower than the previous model, and it shares its platform with the Ford Focus, which was awarded AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year 2019. The platform allows for great versatility, especially inside thanks to a retractable rear seat which provides even more leg room or luggage space in the cabin.

Expected charge times from a standard mains power socket is around six hours, while a wall-box-type charger reduces this to just three-and-a-half hours. At commercial/public type-2 AC vehicle fast chargers, it would take around two hours.

Another interesting feature that we’re seeing more of in new vehicles is the rotary gear selector, and the Escape PHEV also features an ‘Automatic Return to Park’ function which makes a ‘quick stop’ much less fiddly.

Well connected

Wireless smartphone charging and a 180-degree rear view camera are available on the Escape PHEV St-Line X, and you can now use the FordPass app to lock, unlock and even start the Escape. You can also view the car’s full service history, as well as some key vehicle statistics like fuel levels and your vehicle’s location.

5-star safety

The standard Ford Escape range has received a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating, however, the PHEV model is not included in this rating. In New Zealand, Rightcar has given the Escape a 5-Star rating based on their Vehicle Safety Risk Rating (VSRR) assessment.


We really enjoyed the versatility of the Escape PHEV, and think it’s a great option for drivers looking at reducing their fuel emissions, all while maintaining the ability to drive for long distances. The ST-Line X variant, in particular, comes very well equipped for a vehicle in this class.

Despite great fuel efficiency, using the Ford Escape to tow shouldn’t be an issue – it has a braked tow rating of 1,200kg, making it a great choice for families who like to head out on road trip at the weekend.

A similar choice of vehicle can be found in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV, with the top spec VRX 4WD currently available under special offer from $57,990.

At a glance


Escape PHEV ST-Line X


2.5-litre Duratec Petrol – Parallel PHEV, 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack


From $60,990 (+ORC), $66,990 as tested

ANCAP safety rating

Not yet rated


167kW (Combined)


PowerSplit: eCVT

Fuel economy/CO2

1.5L/100km, 33g/km

Towing capacity

1,200kg (Braked)


2WD (Front)

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

517 litres

Safety systems

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
  • Blind Spot Information System w/ Cross Traffic Alert
  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go Technology
  • LED Headlamps Quad Projector Dynamic Bending – Glare free lights
  • Evasive Steer Assistance
  • Lane Keeping Aid / Lane Departure Warning (Road Edge Detection)
  • Dynamic Brake Support
  • Driver Fatigue/Impairment Detection
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Traffic Jam Assist

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