Ford Cuga / Escape PHV: Here’s what we love and hate after 12,000 miles

The Ford Cuga PHV has been a huge hit for the Blue Oval team in Europe. To overcome an early PR nightmare involving recall due to a battery fire, the car sold in the United States as the Ford Escape PHEV in 2021 calendar year was Old Continent’s most popular plug-in.

Appeals are not difficult to see. The 37-39-mile (59-63 km) WLTP EV figure in the PHEV version (EPA: 37 miles) means it can travel more on battery power than some competitors, and in Europe, where running costs are directly linked to CO2 output, less 23-25 The real advantage of the g / km rating, which makes it look greener than regular, is also offered by the non-PHEV Kuga Hybrid Ford, which gets 130-132 g / km CO2 rating.

But how close is Kuga to its official electric mile rating and what does it feel like to live with it? I have been driving an ST-Line X PHEV for the last 12,000 miles (~ 19,300 km) in the long term section Car Magazine We’ve put together a list of what we think are great about the favorite PHEV in the UK and Europe and what we hate.

But before we do that here I am running a quick rundown of what goes on in the car. The PHEV models are combined with an electric motor with a 2.5-liter inline four that simultaneously transmits 222 hp (225 PS) and 147 lb ft (200 Nm) torque to the front wheels and pulls the Kuga to 62 mph (100 km / h) at leisure. In 9.2 seconds. The final hybrid component is a fairly large 14.4 kWh battery that takes 3-3.5 hours to charge using a 7 kW Wallbox charger and 6-6.5 hours using a regular household socket, which I have.

Related: 2023 Ford Kuga / Escape Facelift current model as well as espionage

The UK Kuga Range 1.5-liter 148 hp (150 PS) with EcoBoost and Zetec trim is £ 29,795 (currently $ 39,455; the cheapest US Escape is $ 26,510 Escape S). But if you want PHEV powertrains in the UK, you need to upgrade to ST-line or Vignel trim. We had an ST-line with X version upgrade that sticker at £ 31,595 ($ 41,573). Throw in metallic colors, the kind of adaptive LED light that is just becoming legal in the United States, and an optional suite of driver assistance, and reached a total of 40,255 ($ 52,967).

Good: Interior space and flexibility

The Kuga / Escape’s fairly compact 182.1-inch / 4,626mm footprint makes the inside useful. The rear seats slide and the backrests tilt, which means there’s always plenty of room for passengers, and the sliding function helps make the fact that the luggage space isn’t as big as the original European rivals like the Peugeot 3008.

Good: Conventional rotary heater control

You may agree, but I hate it when automakers bundle every single control on the infotainment screen. Fortunately, Kuga still has the conventional rotary heating control and a bunch of buttons. The downside is that they are located at the very bottom and some of these buttons are small, which means you can spend more time outdoors than if you’re looking for them in the endless touchscreen menu.

Bad: Slow, small infotainment screen

Focus recently received a touchscreen upgrade as part of its mid-life facelift, and you can bet that the same technology will find its way into the facelifted Cuga / Escape, which our space photographers have already tested. This is good news, because the current screen is too small, and the software, especially in map mode, is too slow to respond. And while we’re gripping, why can’t the TFT gauge pack show a complete navigation map like an Audi can?

Bad: Flat seat, non-premium ambience

Kuga doesn’t claim to be a premium product, but we would love to see a little more wow in the interior. The bottom line is that a Skoda dashboard feels more upmarket on the inside in terms of design and materials. The partial-Alcantara seats in our ST-line cars certainly add to the luxury, but although they look sporty they offer almost no meaningful side support.

Good: Usually quick Ford handling

Give me a choice of PHEV for a straight combustion-engineered Ecobust Kuga and a blast down a curved road and I’ll take a non-hybrid every time. At 4,065 pounds (1,844 kg) the PHEV weighs about 617 pounds (280 kg) more than a regular EcoBoost Cuga, and to pick through any artificially stepped proportions without a shift pedal, the CVT transmission makes you feel disconnected when you speed up. Tried.

But driving a car like this seems contradictory anyway. And the two-week action on a damp, old-fashioned Nissan X-Trail / Rogue during the Christmas holidays reminds me that while the Kuga PHEV doesn’t handle the best Ford of all time, it still feels like a Ford in its steering response and body movements are on a hard surface. Is controlled. That said, I want a little more steering weight and a little more fitness to deal with smaller, stiffer bumps.

Good: That nice EV range

The Cougar’s excellent 37-39-mile WLTP (37 mi / 63km EPA) EV rating is one of the biggest reasons you can buy from one of Ford PHEV’s competitors, and this car has not disappointed in real world use. A lead foot will break your charge below 20 miles (32 km) but keep the speed below 40 miles (64 km / h) or half of the maximum available EV and walk lightly on the right pedal and this is perfectly possible. Matches or even exceeds the official rating.

Good: Great MPG even no charge

We’ve driven 12,000 miles (19k km) out of total miles, 46.5 UK highway mpg equals 39 mpg US

PHEVs are convenient, but you can reasonably argue that they are the worst of both worlds. No matter which power source you go to, you are dragging the other like a dead weight. But Kuga is both fascinated and surprised. First, the useful EV range means you can cover more travel from start to finish using battery power. But the surprise was how economical it was on the long, multi-hour journey when the battery indicator showed that you had used all the charges three counties ago.

Related: What Happens When You Run PHV Without Gas?

The inline four can be quite large at 2.5 liters, but Atkinson bike technology (similar to the one used in the Tyota Prius) helps me achieve 40 mpg Imperial (33 mpg US / 7.0 lt / 100 km) at freeway speeds faster, and at speed limit lines 50 mpg (42 mpg US / 5.6 lt / 100 km) when towing and holding my toe Out Of the gas pedal.

The bad: EV mode is not always available

A small chic of the Cougar PHEV armor is that very occasionally the thing refuses to let you drive in EV mode even when the battery indicator is showing full charge. Ford says that to ensure the safety and proper operation of the entire hybrid system, it is sometimes necessary to run the combustion engine, possibly controlling things like temperature. I’m sure there’s a sound engineering reason, but it’s still frustrating.

And also know that Kuga PHEV, like most other plug-ins, may not act as an EV when you run out of fuel. As I proved in an experiment with this car last year, if the SUV realizes that there is not enough gas in the tank to run the engine, it will not let you run it, no matter how full your battery is. .


I’ve been writing about cars for over 22 years, and during that time I’ve driven lots of hybrids and EVs, I’ve never lived with one for more than a few days or a week. But some of you may be in the same boat. You still like and feel comfortable with conventional gas powered cars and SUVs. So at the beginning of this test I was wondering if I would really win by this PHEV. And I’m surprised to say I was.

Kuga doesn’t get everything right, but it’s a pretty solid package no matter which engine you go for, and it’s particularly impressive in its plug-in camouflage for its long EV range and impressive MPG. I even found myself enjoying gliding in electric mode and having fun trying to make the available battery charge much higher than I expected. It’s not a car that will ever hurt your heart to own, but your head can understand why it was the best-selling PHEV in Europe in 2021.

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