The 2023 Ford Escape PHEV (plug-in hybrid) received a facelift with a front design and a new light bar meant to evoke the sportier Ford Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV. A bigger screen and new infotainment software were added to the inside.
Nevertheless, other than a new electrical architecture that allows for over-the-air upgrades and the like, the fundamental core package of the Escape PHEV stayed basically the same, giving a plug-in hybrid engine good for more than 100 MPGe and an amazing 37 miles of all-electric range.
As plug-in vehicles become more common, we’ll see more SUVs like the Ford Escape PHEV. The Escape PHEV, which will be available in 2020, will compete in a burgeoning sector that includes plug-in versions of the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Toyota RAV4. The Escape gets a facelift for 2023, but it lacks rivals’ performance, more luxurious interior, and all-wheel drive.
2023 Ford Escape PHEV Interior
The redesigned snout is primarily influenced by the Ford Edge. There’s a new 13.2-inch touchscreen on the inside. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both wireless, and there are fewer physical buttons, with climate settings incorporated into the screen’s bottom.
Despite the high starting price, most of the goods need the Premium option, which includes a head-up display, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and quilted leather. Regardless of the choice you make, a lot of unsightly hard plastic remains.
The cabin is a pleasant place for both front and back passengers, with reclining rear seats and clear displays, though we wish the major dashboard items were oriented closer toward the driver for simpler access. We also criticize the lack of physical climate controls, since adjusting the temperature one degree at a time feels more bothersome than required while driving.
The new soft-touch dashboard is an upgrade, but the door materials you’ll be touching on a regular basis are flexible and constructed of hard plastic. Although the style is the same across the Ford series, the overall effect of the all-black interior is more melancholy than joyful.
2023 Ford Escape PHEV Performance
The PHEV is also the most powerful Escape available, with a combined 210 horsepower (when the battery is fully charged) from its electric motors and a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder gas engine; it’s enough to drive its 4,000-plus pounds through traffic and provide a 0-60-mph speed of 7.8 seconds.
It’s not sporty, and in hybrid mode, under high throttle input, the system will delay kicking on the gas engine to ask you via the driver display menu to hit “OK” first, which is quite aggravating when you expect—or need!—a surge answer to your foot’s request. There are drive modes that disable this, but it’s perplexing that it’s even present.
On the road, we noticed that the previous model’s heavy feel hadn’t been eliminated, and there was still a lot of body roll in the corners, some shaking over rougher roads, and a lot of tire noise in the cabin. The previously wooden brake feel continues through, as the vehicle struggles to effectively mix the hybrid powertrain’s regenerative function with the physical friction brakes.
Off-road and on slicker terrain, the Escape PHEV exhibits a slight—but still safe and controllable—bias toward oversteer, which adds a little of excitement.
The Escape’s driving modes are committed, with EV mode adhering to EV-only power, while Sport appears to primarily provide increased engine noise. There is no designated off-road mode, which makes sense given that all-wheel drive is not available—a mistake in our opinion, given that so much of the nation experiences four seasons.
The lane-keeping and cruise control systems performed admirably, albeit with a slight tilt toward the correct line on the road, but Ford’s Blue Cruise hands-free driving is regrettably not available on this model.
Several of these are comparable to those made to the standard, non-plug-in hybrid version—but are ultimately insufficient to put it closer to the Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV, which rides better and has AWD. Still, the Escape PHEV has an excellent EV range and reasonable packaging.
It isn’t the best-driving Escape in the series, but its interior technology is user-friendly, and it looks more contemporary than before. But make sure to put the competition through its paces before signing on the dotted line.
The Ford Escape PHEV begins at $41,995, but the Premium package is $48,320 with the freestanding panoramic roof option. The latter has heated and powered front seats, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a head-up display, a digital driver display, quilted leather upholstery, a wireless phone charging pad, HD radio, extra parking sensors, and other features. It’s costly at $4,530, but you get a lot of equipment that our test model lacked.