Ford will kickstart its rollout of electrified vehicles in Australia with the new Escape, released today and set to touch down in 2020.
The new mid-sized PHEV will face off with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid arriving in Australia later this year, by mating a 2.5-litre Atkinson Cycle petrol engine with an electric motor and 14.4kWh battery pack for 165kW of power and more than 50km of pure-electric motoring.
Although there's regenerative braking on board (naturally), you're also able to charge by plugging into the wall. We presume it'll support fast charging of some kind, but Ford hasn't released details on how quick the car will recharge. Stay tuned.
There will be three drive modes: EV Auto, EV Now, EV Later and EV Charge. They're all pretty self-explanatory – shuffling power automatically, prioritising the electric motor, using only the petrol engine, and recharging the battery on the move respectively.
Supporting the new electrified powertrain is a variation of the C2 platform underpinning the new Focus.
Ford says the 2020 Escape will be up to 90kg lighter than the model it replaces, although that figure will vary based on powertrain. It should also be meaningfully stiffer than before.
It'll also be markedly bigger than the current car, which is now undersized against cars like the Holden Equinox.
A 20mm longer wheelbase should free up more rear legroom, while a body 89mm longer and 44mm wider will mean there's more room for people and their gear inside.
Ford says there's 43mm more shoulder room and 57mm more hip room in the front, and 20mm more shoulder room and 35mm more hip room in the back. Headroom is also up.
The cabin looks to borrow heavily from the Focus, which means the dashboard is dominated by a floating tablet-style display running Sync 3.
There's also a new digital display in front of the driver, although which models will get it remains to be seen.
Down back, the folding rear bench can also slide, allowing owners to favour legroom or luggage space depending on how much they like their children.
“We’re proud to bring the first of our global electrified vehicles to Australian customers in the stylish and capable all-new Escape,” said Ford Australia and New Zealand president and CEO, Kay Hart.
"Australians continue to embrace SUVs, which is why we are introducing our first plug-in hybrid powertrain with this vehicle.”
The new Ford Escape will touch down in 2020. We've contacted Ford for more concrete timing, and will update the story when it becomes available.