How does 2 gallons of gasoline a week sound?
I just drove a 2021 Escape PHEV and loved it, using just under2 gallons of gasoline in a 149-mile week of mainly local driving and two 40-mile-plus runs to appointments.
That’s about 75 mpg, but the bigger takeaway is that I burned no gasoline at all for short to medium jaunts and parts of the longer drives, thanks to the Escape PHEV’s EPA estimate of 37 miles on a fully charged battery. Real-world range will vary depending on your driving style, time spent on the highway, weather and other factors, but 37 miles a day covers most or all regular driving for a lot of people. More if you add the growing number who charge at work as well as home. Much of the time, many PHEV owners live nearly free of tailpipe emissions.
No juice, no problem
Another benefit: I recharged it from a standard 120v household plug — no need for a professionally installed 240v charger — and spent a moment worried about running out of fuel.
Escape PHEV prices start at $34,755, according to Edmunds.com. The vehicle is eligible for federal and state tax credits that can take thousands off the price. I tested a loaded Titanium model that cost $38,855 excluding destination charges. Not cheap, but competitive with similarly equipped compact SUVs that rely solely on either gasoline or electricity. Particularly when you consider EPA estimates:
—$1.04 for electricity to drive 25 miles, compared with $2.50 with gasoline.
—$850 annual energy cost, assuming 15,000 miles a year, divided 45% highway/55% surface streets.
Lincoln also just began selling the Corsair Grand Touring, a PHEV version of its compact SUV. Prices start at $50,390, excluding destination. The EPA rates its electric range at 28 miles.
The Escape PHEV is responsive and nimble, but only available with front-wheel drive.
The more short trips, and the more surface streets you take, the lower your costs, because hybrids are more efficient in stop and go driving, and you can avoid using gasoline at all in many local drives.
Best of all, if I want to drive to Chicago, I don’t have to worry about finding an available, functioning, high-speed electric charger en route, as I would with many pure EVs. When a PHEV’s battery is depleted, no problem: The gasoline engine takes over and you continue on your merry way. And — unlike even the best electric vehicles —you never have to stop and charge when you’d rather be driving.
EVs are almost certainly the future, but a PHEV can be a pretty sweet ride here and now.
Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press auto critic. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHEVs available now
Audi A7 TFSI e
Audi A8L 60 TFSI e
Audi Q5 TFSI e
BMW X5 40e
BMW X3 30e
Ferrari SF90 Stradale
Jeep Wrangler 4xe
Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe (later in 2021)
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Land Rover Range Rover
Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring
Mini Countryman SE
Porsche Cayenne S E-hybrid
Porsche Panamera E-hybrid
Toyota Prius Prime
Toyota RAV4 Prime
Volvo XC60 T8
Volvo XC90 T8
Volvo V60 Recharge
Source: EVadoption.org, Free Press research