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2021 Ford Escape Hybrid detailed: New Toyota RAV4 Hybrid rival emerges as the family SUV battle continues to escalate

The Kuga (nee Escape) is now available with a ‘self-charging’ hybrid powertrain in Europe.

Ford has revealed the mid-size SUV it hopes will steal sales from the increasingly popular Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, but will the Escape Hybrid be sold in Australia?

When asked that very question, a Ford Australia spokesperson told CarsGuide: “While we have no local plans for the Escape Hybrid to share today, we always look to the best of our global portfolio for vehicles that suit the emerging needs of Australian customers.”

That statement is undoubtedly an open-ended one, so time will tell if Ford Australia takes the fight to the RAV4 Hybrid with the Escape Hybrid. For what it’s worth, it’s built in the same Valencia plant in Spain the company sources the rest of its new Escape line-up from.

In the meantime, the Escape has just entered local showrooms with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, while a PHEV (plug-in hybrid) powertrain is set to be introduced here in late 2021, having recently been delayed by about a year due to a battery-related fire risk.

Revealed by Ford of Europe, the Escape Hybrid (or Kuga Hybrid as it’s known as in the Old World) has a 140kW ‘self-charging’ powertrain, which combines a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine (running on the Atkinson cycle) with an electric motor.

With a 54L fuel tank in tow, Ford claims the Escape Hybrid’s driving range is 1000km. With a 54L fuel tank in tow, Ford claims the Escape Hybrid’s driving range is 1000km.

Front- and all-wheel-drive versions of the Escape Hybrid are available, with each fitted with a 1.1kWh battery that helps limit fuel consumption to 5.1 litres per 100km on the NEDC combined-cycle test, while carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are 118 grams per km.

With a 54L fuel tank in tow, Ford claims the Escape Hybrid’s driving range is 1000km, which is 30 per cent greater than that of its PHEV sibling. That said, the latter’s electric-only driving range of up to 72km (NEDC) is inherently vastly superior.

Comparatively, the RAV4 Hybrid also has a ‘self-charging’ powertrain and comes with the choice of 160kW FWD or 163kW AWD, both with a 1.6kWh battery. The former drinks 4.7L/100km (ADR 81/02) and emits 107g/km, while the latter manages 4.8L/100km and 109g/km.

Both the Escape Hybrid and the RAV4 Hybrid are fitted with continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVTs), although the former’s version is a power-split unit that Ford says “automatically adjusts engine rpm as the vehicle’s speed changes to reduce the ‘rubber band’ effect”.