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New Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid gets 100 MPGe and 37 miles of all-electric range for under $35,000

The new Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid is a fuel-efficient SUV.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Add another model to the fuel-efficient SUV roster. Ford redesigned its Escape for the 2020 model year but it was introduced, three of its four powertrain options were available. Now, the fourth option is making its way to market - a plug-in hybrid electric system.

The 2020 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid delivers best-in-class EPA-estimated all-electric fuel economy rating of 100 MPGe combined and an EPA-estimated 37 miles of all-electric driving range. When running on strictly gasoline, the SUV gets 41 mpg.

MPGe, or miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent, is an Environmental Protection Agency metric to compare the amount of energy consumed by alternative fuel vehicles to what traditional gas-powered vehicles consume.

The Escape Plug-In Hybrid's closest competition is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime. It's a PHEV model that achieves 94 MPGe and gets 42 miles of all-electric rage.

2020 Ford Escape The SUV looks the same as every other new Escape, except for its unique badging and power plug door, located on note driver's side near the hood.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

"The original Ford Escape was the world's first hybrid SUV and the all-new Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid represents how far we've come in technology and efficiency," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer. "The all-new Escape plug-in has more power and more passenger space than the Fusion Energi plug-in, as well as up to four times the cargo volume behind its second-row seats."

This Escape is powered by a new 2.5-liter hybrid engine and electronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Its liquid-cooled, 14.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery is positioned below the second-row seats.

The Escape Plug-In Hybrid has a Level 1/Level 2 AC charging port. Using a 110-volt Level 1 charger, the estimated time to fully charge the battery is 10 to 11 hours. Using a 240-volt Level 2 charger, charge time drops to roughly 3.5 hours.

2020 Ford Escape The SUV's battery is located under the rear seats so that it doesn't disrupt cargo room in the model.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Hybrid models feature four drive modes: Auto EV, EV Snow, EV Later, and EV Charge. In Auto EV mode, the vehicle decides whether to run on gas or electric power. Using EV Now mode, drivers can operate on all-electric power. In EV Later mode, drivers can switch to full gas-hybrid driving to conserve electric miles for later. Ford's new EV Charge mode allows drivers to continue to charge the battery while driving and generate electric-only miles to use later.

Every Escape comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360, a suite of driver assist and safety technology that includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go and lane centering. Active Park Assist is also available.

Buyers can get the PHEV powertrain on every Escape trim level except S and SE Sport. The Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid has a starting MSRP under $35,000.

That MSRP is lower than the RAV4 Prime, but the Toyota model's over $38,000 starting price is reflective of the fact that it features mid-grade and higher features and equipment right off the bat.

Other engine options

AutomotiveMap has already reviewed the Escape's other three powertrains as part of a larger 2020 Ford Escape review.

The 2020 Escape's base engine is a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder (S, SE, SEL trim levels) that achieves 180 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque.

The available 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder (SEL, Titanium trim levels) is significant peppier getting 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.

Both of those engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Escape Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder, which is paired with an electronic continuously variable transmission.

Looking for a fuel-efficient SUV that isn't a plug-in? Check out AutomtoiveMap's list of 20 SUVs with the best gas mileage here.

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The new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is coming soon to a LEGO store near you.

Photo courtesy of LEGO

The Jeep Wrangler has fans the world over. For those fans whose extracurricular activities include LEGO building along with Jeeping, there's a new LEGO Technic model they'll want to take a look at. The LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the first LEGO model of a Jeep SUV.

Ask any Jeep Wrangler owner and they'll tell you that their vehicle is just a bigger version of this new LEGO set," said Mark Allen, Head of Jeep Design. "The design of the Jeep Wrangler allows them to take it apart, top off, doors off, reconfigure it, add new pieces from our Mopar team, and then put it back together again. This LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler should bring a new level of joy to our Jeep enthusiasts and help inspire future designers to the brand."

LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Photo courtesy of LEGO

The 665-piece model features all the classic Jeep hallmarks - a performance 4x4 system, rugged tires, fold-down rear seats, and a seven-slot grille. It features a button operated front steering system and axle-articulation suspension. It has a yellow-and-black color scheme.

"The Jeep Wrangler is an icon in the off-road world" says Lars Thygesen, Designer, LEGO Technic. "The Rubicon has a lot of the iconic details loved by 4x4 fans the world over, so it was important to me to pack as many of the authentic, powerful features of the real vehicle into the LEGO Technic replica. I hope LEGO fans and vehicle lovers enjoy all aspects including the suspension, winch and open air design that we developed alongside the talented Jeep design team."

The LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler is designed for Jeep and LEGO fans alike, aged 9 and above. It will be available from January 1st 2021 from LEGO.com, LEGO stores and other retailers globally, priced at [49.99€/49.99$/£44.99].

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Audi is only making the car for U.S. customers.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The 2021 Audi R8 Panther special edition is one of the rarer gifts you can get for your garage this holiday season. With a limited run of 30 coupes in the works, the R8 Panther edition models are the first available units in the R8 rear-wheel-drive model line and available only for U.S. customers.

If the name sounds familiar to you, that's because it should. The R8 Panther edition joins the 2019 RS 5 Panther edition, which was also a limited run and featured the same paint color and interior upholstery.

2021 Audi R8 Panther The hallmarks of the model include its black paint job and red-edged wheels.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The unique 2021 R8 Panther comes covered in an Audi-exclusive Panther Black crystal effect paint job with carbon exterior mirror housings. Its badging has been coated in black. The model rides on 20-inch five-double-spoke dynamic design wheels that have been milled cut, finished in matte black with red trim, and wrapped in summer performance tires.

Your neighbors will hear you leaving the cul-de-sac thanks to the car's sport exhaust system, which amplifies the sound of the V10 engine. LED headlights and LED taillights, with dynamic turn signals will help their eyes follow your path on the way out as they peer out their windows.

The R8 Panther is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V1 engine that produces 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, and sprints from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. It has a top track speed of 201 mph.

The chassis of the R8 Panther edition has been specifically adapted for rear-wheel drive, including using solid rear axles as opposed to hollow, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and an increase in rear negative camber.

2021 Audi R8 Panther

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The model has a full black leather interior with Crimson red stitching. Its racing shells seats are covered in red Nappa leather and have power height and manual fore/art seat adjustment. The car's gear selector and parcel shelf are covered in Alcantara, and the headliner features a diamond-stitched Alcantara. Audi has given the model a brand-exclusive steering wheel with leather/Alcantara and 12 o'clock marker as well as exclusive R8 floor mats with Crimson red leather edging.

Audi virtual cockpit, Audi smartphone interface, Audi phone box with signal booster, navigation, a 13-speaker Bang & Olufson sound system, and illuminated door sill inlays are included.

A carbon exterior package adds carbon fiber to the engine compartment and carbon sigma sideblades while the carbon interior package adds carbon fiber high-gloss surrounds for both the virtual cockpit and the air vents, as well as the center console.

The 2021 R8 Panther edition will be available in select dealerships this month with an MSRP of $183,300. There is an additional $1,495 destination charge, $1,700 gas guzzler tax, sales taxes, title, options, and dealer charges.

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