MPG Figures Are In for Ford's Greenest Utility Vehicles

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
mpg figures are in for fords greenest utility vehicles

The Mustang Mach-E isn’t yet available for public consumption, leaving a trio of hybrid SUVs as the brand’s electrified vanguard. For 2020, the Escape returns to its hybrid past, joined by the newly electrified Explorer and its plug-in Lincoln Aviator twin.

EPA figures have been revealed for all of these beasts, so let’s take a look at what gas savings that additional expenditure can get you.

The hybrid Escape utilizes Ford’s venerable 2.5-liter four-cylinder; an Atkinson-cycle unit in this guise. Mated to the four-banger is an electric motor juiced by a 1.1 kWh battery pack. Combined output is 200 horsepower, with output funnelled to the drive wheels through a continuously variable automatic.

A plug-in hybrid variant due next year will surely up the model’s green appeal, but for now it’s your only fuel-sipping choice (barring the 1.5-liter three-cylinder base model). In front-drive form, the Escape Hybrid earns an EPA rating of 44 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, and 41 mpg combined. Saddle the model with all-wheel drive and the figures drop slightly to 43/37/40.

In comparison, the gas-only three-cylinder Escape returns 27/33/30 in front-drive guise, which is considerable in its own right. Previously rated, the 2020 Explorer Hybrid doesn’t crest the 30 mpg mark; it’s thirst comes in at 27/29/28 for the front-drive model. Shave off 3 mpg to get the AWD stats.

Moving far up the MSRP ladder lies the Aviator, which opts for potency and panache with its hybrid offering. With 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque on tap, the Aviator plug-in is a green hot rod that demands big bucks. Exclusivity is provided by having the plug-in Explorer relegated to the overseas market.

According to the EPA, the electrified Aviator — available only with AWD — returns 23 mpg when the model’s 13.6 kWh battery pack is kept in reserve, pushing the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 to the forefront. Operating as a conventional hybrid, the Aviator bests its gas-only stablemates by 2 or 3 mpg, depending on whether the challenger is FWD or AWD.

With the electric reserves brought online, that figure rockets to the equivalent of 56 mpg (MPGe) — not bad for a midsize, high-zoot utility vehicle. It may take a while to recoup the added sticker via gasoline purchases, however, as the cheapest Aviator hybrid starts just a tick below the $70k marker.

[Images: Ford]

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7 of 36 comments
  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Dec 10, 2019

    No word on the Corsair PHEV? Very excited about that.

    • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Dec 10, 2019

      It's a 2021 model, so not yet. Once both of them are out it will be interesting to see a comparison between it and the inevitable Lexus version of the RAV4 Prime.

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Dec 10, 2019

    Regarding the information on the Lincoln, and in general, MPGe is an absolutely useless metric. It is emission-based given some obscure basis of where the electricity comes from, and has nothing to do with combined range or fuel efficiency. They should show electric range from a full charge and put that next to the standard MPG measurements.

    • See 3 previous
    • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Dec 10, 2019

      @conundrum It's one thing to adjust MPGe for the efficiency of the particular power mix in a given place. That would be useful information. It's quite another to pretend 40% is the best you're going to do. Only coal is that bad, and it won't be providing energy in the US for much longer. Gas is closer to 60%, and of course it doesn't really matter for solar, wind, or hydro. As an example, the utility that provides my power gets 97% of it (and increasing) from hydro, wind, solar, and nuclear. MPGe significantly understates the environmental benefit of driving an electric car in my area, but it's useful as a cost-measuring device.

  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.
  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.
  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers.