2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV and 2022 Ford Escape PHEV: Which one to buy?

Crossovers fall into different parts of the spectrum. Some are more car-like, while others lean heavily into the off-road side of things. The 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV sits neatly in the middle of everything, while the 2022 Ford Escape PHEV goes all-in on being as car-like as it can. Both vehicles offer something unique, especially with their electrified powertrains. Which one should you get though? Let’s break each one down.

2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV and 2022 Ford Escape PHEV exterior

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV is one of the most recognizable entries in the compact SUV segment. Thanks to its unique front fascia with headlights embedded into the grille, tiered headlights, and taillights that look like they came out of a Ford Mustang, this rig looks like it’s from the future. Character lines emblazoned across the vehicle create the family lineage to other Hyundai models. In contrast, the 2022 Ford Escape PHEV looks like a raised hatchback so don’t be surprised if you mistake it for a Focus. You still have the wide Aston Martin-esque grille, oval headlight and taillight clusters, and a rounded shape that highlights its compact dimensions.

2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV and 2022 Ford Escape PHEV interior

Moving inside, both vehicles have generous space for four passengers. The Hyundai has more cargo space since it’s larger and has a longer wheelbase than the Ford. Both also have rear seats that recline for additional flexibility. The Escape PHEV’s car-like demeanor becomes most apparent with its seating position because it’s not as high up as other compact SUVs including the Tucson PHEV. There is one benefit with this: a slightly lower load-in height than the Hyundai.

Look closely throughout the cabin and you’ll immediately notice that Hyundai pulled out all stops. Everything you interact with feels expensive and the materials used throughout the cabin are consistent. There are lots of soft and padded surfaces everywhere, and the level of sound insulation enhances that upscale sensation you get once you’re inside. The Ford, on other hand, has an interior that’s typically what you’ll find in a mainstream crossover. Yes, there are lots of soft-touch surfaces, padding where your arms would fall, and tactile controls but they never exude a sense that they’re a class above. There are also noticeable amounts of road and wind noise entering the cabin on the highway and rough roads, detracting from an otherwise hushed interior.

2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV and 2022 Ford Escape PHEV tech features

Hyundai and Ford have the most user-friendly infotainment systems on the market. Both are intuitive, logical, and responsive, meaning you won’t need to bust out the owner’s manual to figure out how everything works. The only downside of the Tucson PHEV’s interface is the extensive use of haptic feedback controls when you opt for the dual 10.25-inch displays. Not having physical buttons and knobs means it gets distracting, especially when you need to change something that you can’t access on the steering wheel controls.

Ford, on the other hand, hasn’t put the newer Sync 4 system on the Escape family, leaving you with a tiny 8.0-inch screen with graphics that are starting to look dated, especially against the Hyundai. Both crossovers offer upgraded sound systems from Bose on the Hyundai and B&O Play in the Ford. The latter is the better system since it’s clearer, does a better job covering the cabin, and its volume increases consistently.

On the driver assistance front, Hyundai and Ford are also among the best with their Smart Sense and CoPilot 360 suites. Both have unobtrusive lane centering and steering assists that gently bring you back into your lane and can help you complete gentle turns on the highway. Adaptive cruise control also has a fantastic distancing component that retains your set distance as accurately as possible even in traffic. However, since the Hyundai has a newer system, it can also detect oncoming turns via the navigation data so it can slow down ahead of time and enable you to complete them at a safe speed.

2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV and 2022 Ford Escape PHEV driving experience

Both crossovers’ driving dynamics are biased toward on-road performance, but the Hyundai Tucson PHEV offers a more comfortable ride. It deals with road imperfections better than the Ford despite wearing 19-inch alloy wheels as standard. That doesn’t mean you lose out on handling because the Tucson is still among the more agile entries in its segment. When you combine the surefooted handling with tight, accurate steering, you get a nicely balanced family vehicle that’s easy to drive on long trips and the daily commute.

With AWD standard, the Tucson PHEV also has more grip in harsh weather conditions. It can split power evenly between the four wheels to maximize traction even during acceleration for smoother takeoffs. Hyundai’s latest hybrid systems also use the brakes and electric motor to induce torque vectoring, slowing the inner wheels to help the vehicle corner better and improve turn-ins.

You’ll easily mistake the Escape PHEV for a hatchback from behind the wheel because of its poise through corners and excellent body control. The tradeoff is a firmer ride than the Hyundai meaning potholes, ruts, and harsh impacts are more noticeable. Quick, communicative steering amplifies Ford’s car-like road manners, especially on winding roads where it changes directions so willingly and drives like a smaller vehicle. Since it’s FWD only, you’ll need to be extra careful in the wet and snow since the front wheels will be doing all the heavy lifting.

Hyundai uses a parallel hybrid setup in the Tucson PHEV. The 1.6-liter turbo-four gets coupled to an electric motor, a 13.8-kWh battery, and a six-speed automatic transmission for a combined output of 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. You get plenty of power for all driving situations despite the SUV’s two-ton curb weight thanks to the engine’s torque and electric motor’s instant responses. The transmission is quick and responsive but we wish it didn’t go to the highest gear right away outside of Sport mode.

Thanks to the bigger battery, the Tucson PHEV can travel 33 miles in all-electric mode or 420 miles when driven as a standard hybrid. The EPA rates the Tucson PHEV at 35 mpg across the board.

Ford uses a power-split hybrid system in the Escape PHEV. It couples a 2.5-liter four-cylinder to an electric motor, a planetary gear set, and a 14.4-kWh electric motor. Don’t let the combined output of 200 hp fool you because this little guy moves with gusto. Put your right foot down and you get smooth power delivery regardless of the drive mode you select.

Best of all, the Escape PHEV can travel 37 miles in all-electric mode, which is the second-longest after the Toyota RAV4 Prime. When driven as a conventional hybrid, you can travel 520 miles or 43/38/40 mpg city/highway/combined according to the EPA.

Brake operation in both SUVs is linear and you can’t tell where the handoffs from regenerative to mechanical braking occur. They also have a nice, firm pedal that’s satisfying and reassuring, especially during emergencies. Although neither vehicle has one-pedal driving, the Escape PHEV has an L mode for stronger regeneration, which is perfect when you’re going downhill because it’ll give you back a nice amount of all-electric miles.

If you’re looking for quick charging times out of a plug-in hybrid crossover, the Tucson PHEV has it. Thanks to a standard 7.2-kW onboard charger, you can get to 100% in two hours. The Escape PHEV makes do with a 3.3-kW unit, which means you need to keep it plugged in for more than three hours to get a full charge.

2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV and 2022 Ford Escape PHEV pricing

Pricing for the Tucson PHEV and Ford Escape PHEV are close, starting at $36,145 and $35,830 respectively. Loading both crossovers up will get them close to $45,000 but the Hyundai has an advantage here since it has more standard features at the top end including ventilated front seats, blind-spot view monitor, and remote parking. Both are eligible for generous federal tax credits of $6,587 for Tucson and $6,843 for the Escape.

2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV and 2022 Ford Escape PHEV summary

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV aims to be the upscale entry among compact plug-in hybrid SUVs. You get the latest tech features, a nicely trimmed cabin, and pleasantly balanced road manners. The 2022 Ford Escape PHEV doubles down on agile handling, a user-friendly infotainment system, and a generous all-electric and combined driving range. Each one has its pros and cons so now it’s up to you: do you go all-in on the crossover that looks like it came from the future or the most car-like one of them all?

Get the Hyundai Tucson PHEV if you want:

  • Upscale appointments without the requisite price tag
  • Cutting-edge tech features
  • Nicely balanced ride and handling

Get the Ford Escape PHEV if you want:

  • Car-like steering and agility
  • Exceptional fuel efficiency
  • User-friendly infotainment system


Written by Stefan Ogbac
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