By on June 8, 2020

ford

In the compact crossover segment, at least, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choice. And making inroads into this enormously popular crowd is plug-in hybrid power — a feature added to two major players this year: the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4.

As efficiency numbers trickle out, Ford is claiming victory over its rival, though which of the two models ultimately boasts the most appeal will be borne out in future sales figures.

Why is the Blue Oval so confident? The 2020 Escape PHEV’s newly released MPGe rating. At 100 MPGe, the Escape PHEV outclasses the 2021 RAV4 Prime’s estimated combined fuel efficiency rating of 94 MPGe.

It’s a slim gap, but one Ford is ready and willing to exploit. Then there’s the issue of price, which is a gap Ford’s very willing to point out. A base Escape PHEV is promised for under $35,000 (sans destination fee), while Toyota’s target for the RAV4 Prime is a sub-$40k MSRP.

Of course, if that other kind of green means nothing to you, there’s something the RAV4 Prime boasts that the Escape PHEV can’t: greater all-electric driving range. The Toyota claims 42 miles of gas-free driving versus the Ford’s 37. Again, not a huge gap, and one that, when combined with the Ford’s greater level of efficiency in standard hybrid mode, isn’t likely to amount to any savings. Unless you plan on never gassing up and keeping trips to EV range-only distances, that is.

In hybrid mode, the Escape PHEV is estimated to rate 41 mpg on the combined cycle. While Toyota hasn’t released such figures for the RAV4 Prime, the RAV4 Hybrid gets 40 mpg combined, and that’s without the Prime’s bulkier battery pack in tow.

In the area of power, however, Toyota trounces Ford. Let’s forget efficiency of fuel or dollars for a moment and focus on something very few compact crossover drivers fixate on: speed. The combined output of the RAV4 Prime is 302 horsepower — good for a sprint to 60 mph in a swift 5.8 seconds. Total system output for the Ford is 221 hp.

Last, but most certainly not least, is the fact that the Escape PHEV is a front-drive-only proposition, while the RAV4 Prime comes with standard all-wheel drive. That alone will be  worth the extra cost and decreased efficiency to many buyers.

In announcing the new specs, Ford didn’t mention Toyota; rather, it focused on how better the Escape PHEV is to family life when compared to the defunct Fusion Energi plug-in it (sort of) replaces. To the company’s product development chief, it offers up the best blend of easy-to-live-with attributes in an age of pandemic-related uncertainty.

“The economic and environmental impacts of this virus have created a roller coaster for consumers looking to balance value, need and efficiency going forward,” Hau Thai-Tang said in a release. “Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid is that ideal balance our customers want.”

[Image: Ford]

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26 Comments on “Hybrid War: Ford Touts Escape Plug-in As Efficiency King, but Toyota Has Two Things It Wants to Tell You...”


  • avatar
    Rocket

    Sadly, neither one appeals to me aesthetically. If forced to choose, I’d gladly pay a little more for the Prime’s performance benefits, although I suspect many will see it as completely unnecessary. A Venza Prime might be of interest to me, however. Or better yet, A Bronco Sport or Corsair PHEV based on the already stout 2.0T. Too bad such an animal doesn’t seem to be in the works.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Ford Escape Hybrid is trouncing RAV4 Hybrid on fuelly dot com by almost 4 mpg says allot in the real world.

      • 0 avatar
        Rocket

        Okay, but what does that have to do with the plug-in versions?

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Norm, the Escape Hybrid is totally different then the Escape PHEV. The Hybrid is also available in AWD

        As much as I am a fan of Escapes, when it comes to PHEVs the added HP and AWD of the RAV4 is a better way to go

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          With the Escape being lighter and more aerodynamic it could see a similar difference over the RAV4 when both are PHEV.

          But knowing what we know now with our 2018 CT6E going almost 3,000 miles on a tank of gas can happen in as little as 3-months seeing around 90 mpge on average this late spring as temperatures rise.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          No the Escape Hybrid is not totally different than the Plug-in version. The only real difference is an electric oil pump added to the same transaxle and a larger battery under the floor blocking the path for a driveshaft to the rear.

          The extra weight of the larger battery should of course hurt its gas only numbers, but can improve them in certain limited situations.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Corsair PHEV was planned for a 2021 introduction and from what I’ve heard it may use the 2.0T and it will have AWD, presumably with a 3rd motor, like Toyota, instead of mechanically like the standard Escape Hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        Rocket

        The Corsair PHEV will use the Escape Plug-in’s drivetrain, but with an additional motor on the rear axle. Total system output is up to 266 — an improvement for sure, but it won’t be the performance leader in the Corsair lineup.

  • avatar
    Dirk Wiggler

    NYC cab drivers by and large love and swear by the old Ford Escape Hybrid. They site the batteries as bullet proof and outlast competitors. Even now it’s not unusual to see these Escapes performing livery service with 500-600 hundred thousand miles.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    First gen Escape Hybrid was Toyota technology licensed to Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Rocket

      That licensing agreement went both ways.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Yes, they developed their systems independently, then cross-licensed the technologies.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        And Toyota has finally started using the Ford multi axis architecture from the original Escape. They tried some stop gaps, adding another planetary to increase the traction motor’s final reduction increasing the engine off speed somewhat. Then they added a sprag so the generator could help the weak traction motor for the first plug in Prius. Meanwhile Ford is on its 4th gen of multi axis dual motor hybrid transaxle.

    • 0 avatar

      “First gen Escape Hybrid was Toyota technology licensed to Ford.”

      Before posting something do a fact checking. If you do not know for sure – do not post.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    The AWD in the Toyota and no AWD available in the Escape is going to be the difference maker here.

    Right or wrong people want AWD in their crossovers.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I test drove the hybrid RAV4 and thought it was horrible. I hope the Plug in is much better.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    First, let’s see if the Escape can avoid the stop-sale order problems that have plagued some of their other recent launches.

  • avatar
    brn

    TTAC, you couldn’t let Ford have this one, could you?

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Toyota should also tout the fact that the Rav4 interior isn’t a dreadful, low quality exercise in cost savings.

    But seriously, the more powerful AWD Rav4 gets SLIGHTLY less MPG than the far less powerful, wrong wheel drive Escape? This is news?

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      I tested both an XLE Rav4 and Escape Titanium. Both were very similar. Cheap bits in different places. Rav4 hides it a bit better under its “rugged” interior.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Driven one? I Have and it is pretty dreadful as well but I am biased against those sorts of cars so I suppose I’m predisposed to nitpick it to death.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    It’s not as if the new Escape has been getting rave reviews as a vehicle in its own right. With Ford’s inability to hang doors, hoods, dashes and tailgates straight now almost a decade long, who with any sort of reasoning and ability to read properly would buy a Ford over an equivalent Toyota anyway? I’ve got no skin in the game, because crossovers do not interest me in the slightest, but c’mon.

    Cue a million Ford owners with skew-whiff quality rearing up on their hind legs berating reality, with backup stories of people down the street whose Toyota whatsitsname fell apart after three months. Sure, and that’s why Toyota is the biggest auto company in the world and Ford is in the lower half of the top ten, with customers clamoring to get a Henry-mobile if it’s not an F150 which is solid and needs no excuses. Never did understand doggie-like loyalty when it comes to choosing a vehicle. or anything else for that matter.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “It’s not as if the new Escape has been getting rave reviews as a vehicle in its own right.”

      You’re right. Ford really bungled the new Explorer/MKExplorer and the new Escape. All three are garbage.

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