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Think of an SUV, and a few images likely come to your mind. Most folks think of a burly, tall, off-road machine like the Ford Bronco. It’s no surprise that the new Ford Bronco has attracted so much attention since its release. But think about what most people actually use SUVs for, and an entirely different group of images comes to mind. While we enjoy the idea of rugged off-roading, most of us use SUVs to commute, carry kids and groceries, or go on family road trips. The Bronco, while handsome, isn’t the best Ford SUV for serving real-world needs. The best Ford SUV may belong to the plug-in hybrid 2023 Ford Escape PHEV

Is the Ford Escape PHEV a plug-in hybrid?

A blue Ford Escape PHEV sits to the left of a red Ford Escape ST-Line with a cityscape in the background.
2023 Escape and Escape PHEV | Ford Motor Company

In short, yes. The Ford Escape PHEV uses both a traditional gas engine and electric motors to produce its power. But unlike previous Escape Hybrid models, the PHEV version offers electric-only driving capability and a plug-in charging battery pack. Standard hybrid vehicles recharge their batteries through driving and don’t provide electric-only mode. The Escape PHEV’s distinct electric capabilities are part of what makes it a contender for the best Ford SUV title. 

1. EV capability meets gas-powered convenience 

Ford Escape PHEV rear view on the left, Ford Escape ST-Line rear to the right.
2023 Ford Escape PHEV and Escape ST-Line | Ford Motor Company

The Ford plug-in hybrid Escape is one of Ford’s best vehicles because it sits in the sweet spot between EV and internal combustion. While the Mustang Mach-E has been a success story for Ford, not all drivers are ready to go full electric. But they’re still interested in what the technology can do for them. 

That’s where the Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid arrives. Its rechargeable battery and electric motor provide up to 37 miles of electric range, according to MotorTrend. That may not sound like much, but it’s enough to run errands around town or a modest commute. If you exceed that range, the gas engine is there to lend a hand. Or, you can switch it into hybrid mode and stretch your gas tank as far as possible. At the end of the day, you can plug into your EV home charger and be ready to go the following day. 

2. Escape PHEV is comfortable on the street

More rugged SUVs like the Bronco are great off-road but have inherent compromises on the pavement. If you’re not planning to hit the trails, you’ll likely appreciate the more refined on-road handling of the Escape PHEV. It uses a car-based unibody design with independent suspension. Together it all creates a smooth and stable ride quality akin to what you’d find in a traditional passenger sedan.  

3. Plug-in hybrid Escape has sleek new looks 

The new Escape PHEV received Ford’s most recent styling updates. The result is a sleek, modern-looking crossover. No, it’s not rugged or aggressive. But it’s sophisticated and handsome. Squint a bit, and you might even see shades of Audi in its front fascia.  

Is the 2023 Ford Escape PHEV worth it?

It’s not the sportiest, most rugged, or most spacious Ford SUV. But despite that, the Escape PHEV offers one of Ford’s best all-around packages. It does everything that regular drivers need – and does it all well. All things considered, it has a strong case as the best Ford hybrid SUV to date. But now that Ford has a compact PHEV crossover, it may be time for the manufacturer to consider a midsize option with three rows. 


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