Published on December 30th, 2019 | by Steve Hanley
December 30th, 2019 by Steve Hanley
The crossover SUV market is hot, but the compact crossover SUV market is torrid. Up until now, there have been few electrified offerings in that market segment. Toyota and Ford make hybrid versions of their RAV4 and Escape, and Honda is about to shoulder its way into the segment with a hybrid version of its popular CR-V next year, but plug-in hybrids have largely been absent.
That is about to change. Mitsubishi started things off with its Outlander plug-in hybrid but the major car companies are not far behind. Toyota is bringing its RAV4 Prime to US shores in 2020. Final specs and prices have not yet been announced, although there are reports it will have up to 39 miles (62 kilometers) of electric-only driving range.
Ford has just unveiled its fourth generation Escape, which will include a plug-in hybrid version starting at $34,235 including the $1,095 destination fee, according to CarsDirect. Ford says the Escape will come with a 14.4 kWh battery and expected range of “more than 30 miles.” The actual EPA range has not yet been released. Deliveries are expected to begin next spring.
With that battery, the Escape PHEV will be eligible for a federal tax credit of about $6,800, which will make it less expensive than the current Escape Hybrid and only about $1,000 more than the base non-hybrid Escape. Of course, in states like California and Colorado that have EV incentives of their own, the final cost will be even less.
According to Green Car Reports, the Escape Plug-In Hybrid SE features a heated driver’s seat, LED headlights and taillights, and a 6.0-inch touchscreen system. The $36,815 SEL model adds fog lamps, roof rails, and a hand-free power tailgate. A panoramic moon roof is optional. The top of the line $40,030 Titanium is priced at $40,030. For that, customers get a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio, wireless charging, leather upholstery, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen.
The wireless charging is interesting. We don’t hear much about it today and few manufacturers offer it on their vehicles. But wireless is the ultimate in convenience for those who have a dedicated parking space available.
One thing customers will not get with the Escape PHEV is all-wheel drive capability, as the larger battery pack does not leave room for a motor to power the rear wheels. The Toyota RAV4 Prime will offer all-wheel drive, which could be a difference maker for those who live in areas where slick roads are a regular challenge. It also offers nearly 100 horsepower more than the Ford Escape PHEV.
The price difference between the Toyota and the Ford is not known at this time, so we don’t know how much extra the RAV4 Prime will cost. If the RAV4 Prime is only $1,000 more, that could give the advantage to Toyota. If it is $5,000 more, the advantage swings back in favor of Ford. In any event, for the time being, the Ford Escape PHEV is the lowest priced plug-in hybrid sport utility in America, undercutting the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV by around $3,000.
Lowering the carbon emissions from the best selling vehicles in the market is an important step forward. People like choices, which is why they make both Coke and Pepsi and why there is often a Burger King across the street from a McDonald’s. More plug-in hybrids will put pressure on other manufacturers to bring similar cars to market. And that’s a very good thing.
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