2021 Ford Escape Hybrid Titanium PHEV Review

Making the commute great again

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Impressive electric-only range is a commuter's dream, roomy cabin, great in-car tech, serious long-distance driving range.
Negatives: No all-wheel drive available, styling is getting boring compared to competitors, a lot of hard plastic in the cabin.
Bottom Line: It's a solid PHEV SUV entrant and does many things well. If you get get past the ho-hum styling, it ticks a lot of boxes and should make for a great commuter vehicle.
The 2021 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid comes late to the party (and late to us). It was originally planned for release in 2020 but arrived in 2021 due to some delays. The PHEV stands apart from the gas and hybrid Escapes in that it delivers 37 miles of all-electric range. That's enough for many commuters, and that's a boon in this high gas price environment without having to go full EV. It goes head-to-head with the Toyota RAV4 Prime and does so with excellent efficiency, a roomy cabin, and less edgy styling. We drove the top Titanium trim for a week. Read our full review ahead.

Driving Experience



The Escape PHEV is fun, but it has its limits when it comes to the driving experience. There's some wheelspin on launch (it is FWD only), but the presence of good steering, handling, and decent braking make it better than many in the segment.

Ride Quality: The ride is a good balance of firm and comfortable, and the suspension feels compliant.

Acceleration: 0-60 comes in about 8.7 seconds, which is about the same as the hybrid version. It's not nearly as quick as the Toyota RAV4 Prime.

Braking: The regenerative brakes have decent feel and stopping power, unlike most regen brake systems.

Steering: Steering is light, but It's responsive, and turn-in is pretty good. There is no feedback coming through, though.

Handling: The Escape PHEV is actually pretty good in the turns and body roll is controlled and predictable.




The Escape's in-car tech is solid. The SYNC3 system continues to be one of the best, and the in-car Wi-Fi can handle a whopping 10 devices, which seems like overkill since you can only fit five people in the vehicle. One demerit is its lack of the right number of USB ports. Let the fighting begin.

Infotainment System: The 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Ford's great SYNC3 is vivid and crisp with great responsiveness. Instead of sitting in the dash, it floats like a tablet and responds well to inputs.

Controls: Unlike a lot of Ford products, the buttons and knobs have good separation and make operation easier while driving. Audio knobs are just below the display screen, and the HVAC vents sit lower, just above the climate controls. The rotary gearshift knob actuates well, and it can even be operated by feel alone.




What looked quite good initially in terms of styling is growing dated because the Escape just isn't all that noticeable, even against the Mazda CX-5 that's been out for a while. It's also not as attractive as the Volkswagen Taos or the new Kia Sportage.

Front: The trapezoidal grille looks nice and simply executed, and the front fascia is kept simple.

Rear: Twin round exhaust pipes, handsome horizontal taillights, and proportional rear glass look great. It's an attractive tail section that keeps things simple like the front end.

Profile: The short front and rear overhangs, as well as the lack of chrome trim give the Escape Hybrid a sporty look. The unique wheel styling is also very nice with flat surfaces and alternating alloy and void A-shapes.

Cabin: Though the ergonomics are improved over the old model, there are still some visually cheap, hard bits in the dash and the center stack. It's not a bad looking cabin, but the cost cutting in materials is evident.




The 2020 Escape gets big upgrades in the interior. Occupants have a more airy cabin with more room thanks to the increase exterior proportions. The visibility is also a couple of grades up from the outgoing Escape.

Front Seats: The front seats are unassuming but comfortable, and there's more hip and shoulder room. The difference is palpable, and the feeling is further enhanced by the lower window sills that come with the new styling. The new Escape moves the perception needle from cozy to spacious in an instant. Even though the roofline is lower in the Escape's hatchy car design, there is still headroom for tall adults in both the front and rear.

Rear Seats: Tall adults can now sit behind tall folks in the front, and overall it's more spacious. Headroom surprisingly doesn't suffer from the slightly sloping roofline. The rear seat also conveniently slides and reclines.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): There's some road noise, but it's minimal. The powertrain is silent, and only the quiet operation of the CVT can really be heard.

Visibility: The big glass all around, coupled with thin pillars, make the Escape easy to see out of in all directions.

Climate: The automatic climate control system is responsive and easy to use, and getting things to temp are no problem. Airflow is also good.




The Escape was tested for 2022, and it goes pretty much unchanged since last year so the scores still apply. It actually does very well in tests and comes with a decent amount of safety tech.

IIHS Rating: The Escape receives the Top Safety Pick, just shy of the top award.

NHTSA Rating: The AWD gas version was tested and earned five stars from the federal government.

Standard Tech: Co-Pilot 360 Assist+ with adaptive cruise control, reverse sensing system, Pre-collision detection with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assistance, blind-spot warning with cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams and a backup camera.

Optional Tech: None.




Small item storage in the Escape Hybrid is pretty good, and the cargo space in back is competitive in the segment. There are useful spaces, and you won't lack space when it comes time to take a road trip for two.

Storage Space: There's a cubby at the base of the center stack where the USB port is located, a cupholder that runs parallel to the center console, and a medium-sized armrest to reach your gear in the immediate vicinity.t\

Cargo Room: The Escape Hybrid's cargo space is 65.4 cubic feet, a bit less than both the new Toyota RAV4 (69.8 cubic feet) and the Honda CR-V (70.8 cubes), but it's competitive in the small crossover segment.

Fuel Economy



There are no published EPA ratings for the Escape Hybrid, but it will at least aim for the last Escape Hybrid's 41/38 mpg city/highway EPA rating. We had no trouble hitting those numbers, even with spiritied driving habits. You can also drive in EV mode for a full 30 miles before the gas engine kicks in. If your daily commute was short, you could theoretically drive to and from work all week without gas if you charged it every night (and didn't try to do this in a Chicago winter).

Observed: 39.4 mpg.

Distance Driven: 91 miles.




The premium B&O 10-speaker sound system comes standard on this trim level, and it sounds very good. The bass and clarity are solid, it's a nice addition to the excellent infotainment system.

Final Thoughts

The PHEV is a welcomed permutation of the Escape, and it comes at the right time when gas prices are high. The Escape PHEV does most things very well, and its most appealing feature is its all-electric range. The rest of the car provides solid appeal including comfort, room, tech, safety, and driving manners. It's just too bad the design is already starting to look dated.
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