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Ford’s new Escape PHEV gets an eye-popping 100 MPGe

Its one formidable competitor, the plug-in Toyota RAV4, goes on sale this summer

The Ford Escape PHEV

Ford

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  • Rated at 100 miles per gallon equivalent
  • Starts just over $33,000
  • Eligible for federal tax credit
  • Up to 37 miles electric-only range

The latest powertrain offering in the recently revamped 2020 Ford F, +4.95% Escape is also its most efficient, rated at an eye-popping 100 mpg. Technically the Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid earns 100 MPGe, with the last letter signaling “equivalent” by the EPA. That’s the rating the government agency gives vehicles such as this when they use an electrified powertrain.

Related: How to choose trim levels and options when buying a new car

The Ford Escape is all new for 2020, and it already offers a hybrid model along with standard gasoline-only powertrains. The regular 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid earns an impressive 41 mpg combined. But thanks to its larger battery pack, the Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid trounces that number for a class-leading 100 MPGe.

Power and efficiency

Like the standard Escape Hybrid, this plug-in model pairs a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor good for a total of 200 horsepower. But the larger battery pack means the plug-in model can travel a sizable distance on electricity alone – up to 37 miles. Between the electrification and gasoline engine, the Ford Escape PHEV’s total range is EPA-rated at 530 miles.

Ford says recharge times are 10-11 hours on a standard 110-volt outlet or under 3.5 hours on a Level 2, 240-volt line.

Choice of three trims

The 2020 Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid is on sale now and available in three trims: SE (starting at $33,040, plus destination fee), SEL ($35,620), and Titanium ($36,435). These prices are several thousand dollars higher than the standard hybrid, but the PHEV also has potential cost savings beyond its enhanced efficiency.

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Plug-in vehicles are eligible for federal tax credits. While the EPA has yet to announce the full tax credit incentive for the 2020 Escape PHEV, a similar sibling, the Ford Fusion Energi sedan, is eligible for a $4,609 credit.

All models include standard safety features such as forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring. Apple AAPL, +1.65% CarPlay and Android Auto integration is also included. Top-tier Titanium models boast amenities like adaptive cruise control, Bang & Olufsen premium audio, leather interior and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

New territory for SUVs

While hybrid SUVs have been around a while – in fact, the original first-gen Escape Hybrid was the world’s first hybrid sport-utility vehicle when it made its debut 15 years ago – plug-in hybrid SUVs relatively new. The Ford Escape PHEV recently went on sale, and what looks to be a formidable competitor is just around the corner.

Also see: These 3 EVs are the lowest cost to own over 5 years

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is a plug-in version of Toyota’s TM, +1.10% top-selling compact SUV, and it’s set to go on sale this summer. Unlike the Ford Escape PHEV that is front-wheel drive only, the Toyota RAV4 Prime is all-wheel drive. (The standard Ford Escape Hybrid also offers AWD.) The Toyota packs much more power – 302 hp — and Toyota says the RAV4 Prime will do 0-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. Plus, the RAV4 Prime is estimated to go up 42 miles on electricity alone – 5 more than the Ford.

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But plug-in hybrid RAV4 will start several thousand higher than the Ford: $38,100.

In addition to its lower price, the Ford can boast that its 100 MPGe rating is 6 higher than what’s expected of the Toyota. The rivalry should be exciting, and it’s barely even begun.

Also see: This car could be Toyota’s best-kept secret

Already winning are car shoppers, who now live in a world where they can have the utility that comes with an SUV and fuel efficiency once thought impossible.

This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.