Ford enters the electric vehicle market

By Ewan Kennedy, Motoring Brand

Our most recent test drive was a Ford Escape SUV plug-in hybrid, which is usually labeled as a PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle). It is the first Ford vehicle to be sold in Australia with any form of electrification.

Ford is working hard to reduce future vehicle emissions in several ways. These will include the addition of electric power to all models, in the form of standard and plug-in petrol/electric hybrids as well as pure electric vehicles.

Escape PHEV is only available in the ST-Line specification level, priced at $53,440 plus on-road costs. Gas-only ST-Line sells for $38,490

STYLING

The Ford Escape has a sensible shape that looks attractive without wasting interior space and luggage by having a semi-cut shape at the rear. This makes it relatively unusual in this class.

The front end is big and bold with a large grille and headlights that run almost halfway up the windshield. The bottom edge of the window line rises to meet the bottom of the top edge.

INTERIOR

The seats in our Escape ST-Line test were a soft black color with red stitching that gives a real premium feel.

Versatility is good since the second row of seats can be moved forward or backward to juggle legroom and trunk space.

INFOTAINMENT

Wireless charging is standard in all Escapes, so compatible devices are ready to go at any time.

The advanced 575-watt 10-speaker configuration was specially developed and fine-tuned for the Escape ST-Line Plug-In Hybrid & Escape Vignale by B&O sound engineers.

A powerful setup lets you hear music the way it’s meant to be heard. We certainly enjoyed that during our 447-mile week in the Escape Plug-In Hybrid.

However, there is the common problem of signal loss on the radio when the landscape and buildings come between you and a live signal.

POWERTRAIN

The Escape PHEV is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre 165kW petrol engine driving what Ford calls an eCVT automatic. There is also a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor. These combine to drive the front wheels. When driven in EV mode only, you can expect a range of around 50 to 55 kilometers.

SECURITY

Every Escape model is equipped with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection. Always at the front, it alerts the driver of potential collisions and applies the brakes if an unexpected danger appears in front of the car.

The SYNC3 system works if you’re in a crash that activates the airbags or shuts off the fuel pump, Emergency Assistance uses your paired smartphone to call emergency services and provide them with your GPS location.

CONDUCT

The Escape PHEV can be driven as pure electric (EV Now) or as a conventional gasoline/electric hybrid (EV Auto).

The Ford Escape comes with five selectable drive modes to suit different conditions: normal, eco, sport, slippery deep snow/sand and trail.

The head-up display projects key information into the driver’s field of vision, so they can keep their eyes on the road with minimal head movement.

The Escape’s system is much better than many other brands because you don’t have to turn your head if you’re wearing polarized sunglasses.

The 12.3-inch digital cluster reduces distractions by displaying only the information you need. You can switch between unique color themes depending on the drive mode you have selected.

The new platform, labeled C2, means the latest Ford Focus is up to 90kg lighter than the previous model. The platform offers increased rigidity as well as improvements in noise, vibration and harshness.

ABSTRACT

The Ford Escape PHEV is an impressive piece of modern automotive technology. It’s fun to ride, even more so with the instant action when you use the throttle. The price is a killer and the sooner our various Australian governments do something to help buyers, the better.

IN ONE LOOK

MODEL RANGE

Ford Escape TA (P)

2.0 TA Escape: $36,490

2.0 ST-Line AT: $38,490

2.5 ST-Line PHEV AT: $53,440

2.0 Vignale AT: $47,090

2.0 ST-Line AWD: $41,490

2.0 Vignale AWD: $50,090

Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Ford Dealer for drive-thru pricing.

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