The 2021 Ford Escape levels up with a new PHEV engine option. Find out if the new tech tempts you to consider it.
In 2020, Ford gave us an all-new Escape with a more aerodynamic exterior, a new turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, and an updated interior that’s better in every way. For 2021, to go with last year’s SEL and Titanium hybrids, they’ve given every trim (except for the S) a hybrid version. With that addition, they’ve even added plug-in hybrids (PHEV) as an option. Ford is all in on the move towards alternative powertrains.
At first glance, the 2021 Ford Escape may look more like a hatchback. Its nose and grille no longer look like its big brother Explorer, but more like a Ford Fiesta. It’s a nice alternative take for a SUV, but we wouldn’t necessarily call it rugged.
With new technology and safety features, Ford has produced an Escape that will gallantly fight its up-and-coming competition for your new car dollar. And Ford gives you more than enough options on what’s powering your ride. Let’s take some time and find out if it’s a winner for you?
2021 Ford Escape – ford.com | Shop 2021 Ford Escape on Carsforsale.com
The design language is appealing
Nice sized interior
Great gas mileage
Plenty of engine options
Cylinder deactivation is abrupt
Maybe an aggressive off-road trim?
For 2021, the Ford Escape S is pulled by a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder. That’s pretty tiny in size. Even though the 3-cylinder sounds small, it produces 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. For daily driving, that’s more than enough to power the Escape. That horsepower and torque rating is about the same as a new Hyundai Tucson, and the Escape doesn’t way as much.
Assisted by the smooth and quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, the 2021 Ford Escape can move from 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds, so it’s no slouch. That’s a full second faster than the its Hyundai Tucson competition. Assisting on the power front is Ford’s drive select modes of Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Snow/Sand. Each one changes the engine and transmission mapping and adjusts the throttle response. We love the Sport mode and don’t mind the cute, but unnecessary, animation on the 12.3-inch LCD instrument panel. We do wonder if the animation will get old over time.
For more power, you have to move up to the Titanium or all-wheel-drive SEL, which pushes the Escapes acceleration to a 5.7-second 0-60 time. Just know that its 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque carry a price tag between $2,000-$3,000 depending on choosing the SEL AWD or Titanium, so you’ll have to want it pretty badly.
The 2021 Ford Escape’s chassis provides a stable platform for ride and handling improvements. The Escape proved it can handle driving around some rather rough surfaced streets and also showed us that Ford upped their game on a smooth and quietly isolated ride.
Suppose you’re looking for something completely different in the engine area. In that case, you’ll want the very efficient and not very expensive Hybrid or PHEV options available on almost every trim level.
Ford says its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder paired with two electric motors is good for 30 miles of non-gasoline combustion operation. Like other hybrids, Ford uses the brakes to regenerate current for the battery. All of this gives you up to 44 mpg, which isn’t a bad thing to have with our current gas prices.
For even better gas mileage, Ford introduced the PHEV for 2021. It allows for 37 miles of electric-only driving and increases the overall mpg average. There’s no new tech here, but you can recharge at home or on the road since you have a bigger battery. Ideally, you’ll take care of most of your commuting and errands in EV-only mode, which will most definitely extend your gas mileage. If you run out of battery charge, you’re not left on the side of the road as you would be in a typical EV. The gas engine will charge up the battery enough to help you with gas mileage. At this point, it institutes its hybrid side.
Unlike the Hybrid engine option, the PHEV is only available with FWD due to the size of the battery and attached equipment. In the end, the PHEV’s EPA-certified fuel economy rating is 100 MPG-e. That’s a lot of trips to the office.
The 2021 Escape’s EPA fuel-economy ratings vary depending on your engine. The 1.5-liter 3-cylinder will give you around 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The 2.0- Ecoboost engine does 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. For the Hybrid, Ford says the Titanium and SEL will get 44 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The PHEV gives you 100 MPG-e. Of course, the harder you press the accelerator, the less mpg you’ll get.
The 2021 Ford Escape is a very comfy ride. It’s basically the physical embodiment of what memory foam would be if it were a car. Even with the 19-inch wheels on the Titanium, there no harshness transmitted to the interior and its ride is tranquil.
The interior further shows Ford’s effort to separate itself from its past low-end-looking designs and materials. However, it does look as if Ford grabbed a Ford Focus dash from the discontinued parts bin and dropped it in. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but you’ll come to the same conclusion if you look at the two.
With that being said, the cloth fabrics have a better feel than the 2019 Escape had, and you see the attention to detail in the soft-touch dash plastics. Even the leather feels like genuine leather. With the competition upping its design and material quality game, it’s nice to see Ford responding to consumer demands.
You have cloth seats on the S, SE, and the Escape SEL has a leather lookalike called ActiveX. The Titanium will be your only leather choice. Regardless of the material, you’ll find the seats to be comfortable and supportive. We wish that Ford would have taken the Focus seats with the dashboard since the 2021 Ford Escape cushions are flatter than we would have liked. Maybe the side bolsters would have hindered easily sliding in and out.
Of course, the benefit of an SUV is using all that available space in the back, and that’s where the Escape picks up some points. Compared to its compact SUV competition, the 2021 Escape is one of the larger interiors you’ll find. There are 34 cubic feet behind the second row leaving enough legroom for a taller adult. With the 60/40 row collapsed, you get 65 cubic feet of total cargo space. You wouldn’t be packing five happy adults if you’re going on a trip, but four people and their luggage would be more than comfortable. Be aware that the Hybrid versions lose a couple of inches of space in width, length, and height because of their battery and motor assemblies.
One of the interior benefits is Ford’s updated SYNC 3 system. After SYNC went through some hiccups when it first appeared back in the day, SYNC 3 is quicker, works very well, and now includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Alexa, and Waze navigation. For some extra grins, order the Bang & Olufsen audio system. Its 575 watts of power sounds good through the sub-woofer and ten speakers around the interior. Maybe in the next generation, Ford could ask Bang & Olufsen to do the Escapes interior design as well.
If you compare the 2021 Ford Escape with the 2019 version, you’ll be happy with what Ford has done in terms of technology. The 8-inch touchscreen on the dash is larger on the upper trims, plus you can opt in the 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. As lovely as that panel is, we were disappointed that Ford didn’t offer a larger touchscreen on the Titanium. Yes, it would require retooling the design, but the competition is fierce these days.
Ford includes their standard Co-Pilot system on every Escape trim. It consists of a rearview camera, blind-spot warnings, lane-keeping assist, and emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Optional features on all trims, except the Titanium where they’re standard, include adaptive cruise control with speed sign recognition and a stop-and-go feature, lane centering, and Active Park Assist 2.0 that can park your car while you’re in it. For 2021, IIHS gave the Escape a Top Safety Pick rating when optioned with the LED headlamps.
A new 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder powers the 2021 Ford Escape S, while the interior comes with cloth trim, a six-way manual driver seat, and a four-way adjustable passenger seat. Even though the steering wheel is urethane, it feels nice and has audio control plus cruise controls. A 4-inch touchscreen and standard six-speaker audio system provide your entertainment. The S also comes standard with Ford’s 360 safety system.
Moving to the SE, you get a 10-way heated driver’s seat, automatic climate control, and an 8-inch touchscreen with the Sync 3 system. Outside you get LED daytime running lights and heated mirrors. You also have the option of Hybrid or PHEV engines.
For the Escape SEL, you’ll have the standard 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine, which we like. But if you want more power, there’s Ford’s 250 horsepower 2.0-liter as well. Also available are Ford’s PHEV and Hybrid engines. There’s not that big of a jump between other equipment on the SE Sport and the SEL, but you will get Ford’s ActiveX upholstery and foot sensing automatic tailgate. Ford says ActiveX fits perfectly into your active lifestyle with its durability, stain resistance, and ability to maintain a premium look and feel.
The 2021 Ford Escape Titanium’s dual-zone HVAC with two rear vents and leather interior are the most noticeable improvements. Ford also adds the PHEV as an alternative to the 2.0-liter and Hybrid. The B&O sound system and ambient lighting also add to the luxury feel of the interior. It’s no Lincoln, but for an Escape, it’s pretty nice. Ford has the full Pro Pilot Assist+ as standard on the Titanium. It includes a “park for you” feature that’s helpful in those tight parallel parking spaces.
Ford doesn’t make a big deal out of its warranty, and you can’t even find it on the Ford Escape’s model page on their website. That should tell you something. However, when do manage to you find it, you’re greeted with a 3 year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 5 year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. That makes it similar to the other US makes and even Honda. Ford does offer 24/7 roadside service during the warranty period that’s tied to an innovative phone app. The app helps you to quickly call the number and provides the service with your exact location.
2021 Ford Escape – ford.com | Shop 2021 Ford Escape on Carsforsale.com
The compact SUV market is hyper-competitive and has a rapid model refresh rate. Compared to Ford’s previous Escape, the 2021 Ford Escape looks and feels light years ahead. But, other than Chevy, the competition is even further down the road in style and technology. So, the Escape is down on the list of choices unless you are looking for a Hybrid or PHEV. All-in-all, the 2021 Ford Escape is supremely comfortable, so if that’s what you’re looking for you won’t find much competition.