This is a sponsored post from our partners at Sailun Tires.

Author Michael Bettencourt is a long-time EV owner, both of BEV and PHEV vehicles, and automotive journalist whose vehicle reviews have specialized in EVs and plug-in hybrids for the past 10 years. We’re following Michael in a new series about the experience of EV ownership, in the short and long term. 

The start of winter meant an end to our Ford C-Max Energi’s half-year with ERange tires, as the low rolling-resistance (LRR) rubber by Sailun is not designed to handle the slush or white stuff that northern climates deal with over colder months.

But just before our personally owned commuter car’s switched to less efficient winter tires, we had a chance to compare it and its EV-targeting ERange tires with its spiritual successor, the brand new 2023 Ford Escape PHEV (their matching white hues was a happy accident). 

2023 Ford Escape PHEV Versus 2013 C-Max Energi

The many differences we found highlighted how much progress has been made in the plug-in world in the past decade, while a few similarities also underlined how different the EV world is now compared to back when our C-Max Energi (nicknamed Si-Mee) was new. This is especially true since affordable used EVs are now a thing, which they weren’t at the dawn of the modern electric EV age a decade ago.

2013 C-Max Energi EV Range, Then And Now

Si-Mee’s all-electric range measured with factory-fresh ERange tires varied depending on conditions and driving style, as always, but in similar traffic and weather showed a 7.4-percent improvement over the three-year old all-season tires they replaced, as detailed here. This was after an alignment just before our testing began, and over a route specifically designed for a 50/50 city and highway split and run in opposite directions to account for any elevation changes. 

2023 Ford Escape PHEV Versus 2013 C-Max Energi


This is impressively close to Sailun’s average 7-percent improvement the company found in its own testing on Tesla Model 3s wearing ERange tires, which were designed to be low-cost as well as efficient.

Switching our ERange tires to winter tires happened close to the beginning of December, when the temperatures were hovering in the low 40s Fahrenheit. My final test of 2023 on the Sailun tires netted 14.5 miles of all-electric driving before the engine kicked in, after roughly 4,300 miles on the tires in five months, compared to the high of 16.9 miles I achieved in ideal summer temperatures and conditions.

Similar traffic and weather showed a 7.4-percent improvement over the three-year old all-season tires they replaced.

Keep in mind that a ’13 C-Max Energi was rated at an EPA range of 19 all-electric miles when new, and that the 16.9 miles above was a 7.4-percent improvement over the fairly new 225/50R17 all-season tires that had just come off Si-Mee. I had also calculated that Si-Mee’s relatively small battery (7.6 kWh gross, 7.2 usable when new) had degraded to about 70 percent of its original usable capacity, given its capability to receive roughly 4.9 kWh of electric fuel.

Considering over 10 years of battery degradation, reduced electric range in the cold, and my wife’s fairly short but still 15-mile daily commute, every extra half-mile of EV range we can claw back is appreciated.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV Overview

The most noticeable upgrades in the 2023 Ford Escape PHEV compared to the C-Max Energi is in range and cargo capacity, two key purchase considerations for many consumers in this segment. The Escape plug-in is EPA rated at 37 miles of all-electric range, or almost exactly double the original C-Max Energi, though its overall range is down to 520 miles thanks to a lithium-ion battery that intrudes into the gas tank instead of the cargo area.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV Versus 2013 C-Max Energi

We observed 58.8 miles per gallon in the Escape PHEV, which compares great to the EPA’s estimate of 40 mpg in combined city and highway travel when it's depleted of electrons, but not so great compared to the 101 mpg-equivalent (MPGe) when EV range is factored in. We occasionally saw as high as 56 miles predicted on its guess-ometer (range predictor), but actually achieved much closer to its EPA 37-mile range prediction over our late fall test week.

Achieving double the miles of predicted range compared to our old C-Max Energi is not that surprising, considering the Escape's battery is also twice as large at 14.4 kWh.

There’s also a new function that can adjust your overnight charge limit to below a certain percentage, such as 70 percent or as low as 50 percent, which should help reduce some of the battery degradation that I saw in Si-Mee after a decade. Lithium-ion batteries don’t like to be charged to 100 percent every time, and will degrade more quickly if that’s your habit.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV Versus 2013 C-Max Energi

Max cargo room in the Escape PHEV with all of its seats up is 34.4 cubic feet, compared to roughly 19 in the back of the C-Max Energi thanks to the space-hogging battery. The regular 2023 Escape hybrid and the PHEV version both have a generous 60.8 cubic feet of cargo space with their rear seats folded down. Max cargo space was my wife’s biggest complaint about Si-Mee, though we still made luggage-laden airport runs with no issues.

Driving Feel And Conveniences Another Major Leap

Of course the newer Escape PHEV has welcomed new features, such as wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a heated steering wheel, and an available bird’s-eye view camera angle that makes it much easier to park. It also has the latest SiriusXM 360L system, which provides digital channels that can work in underground garages, as well as the usual satellite radio channels.

2023 Ford Escape PHEV Versus 2013 C-Max Energi
2023 Ford Escape PHEV Versus 2013 C-Max Energi

Outside an advanced LED lighting strip up front stretches across the hood to join the LED headlights together, and auto high-beam capabilities are standard. The combination of advanced safety systems has also progressed greatly in 10 years, with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking chief among them. And there are new over-the-air updates as of 2023, which have added Alexa and better voice recognition.

There were a couple of items that I missed from Si-Mee, however. One was an old-fashioned volume knob for immediate cranking, which buttons on the left side of the Escape PHEV’s steering wheel don’t quite replicate. The other was the ability to open or close the tailgate via a simple foot swing, which is great when you walk up to the rear bumper with items in your hand, or more so after you grab handfuls of grocery bags.

Neither crossover is particularly quick, with the latest Escape PHEV offering up a combined output of 210 horsepower, compared to Si-Mee’s 195 hp, though in both cases their electric motor helps provide a low-end boost that helps mask their overall weak resolve for forward momentum overall.

The modern Escape PHEV has certainly been refined in multiple ways, but it also keeps a relatively noisy engine that makes its presence heard and felt once the all-electric range (AER) is depleted. It’s not the loud ruckus of Si-Mee when thrashed, but it’s enough to really encourage owners to plug them in whenever possible.


These two pure white (one perhaps more ‘matte’ than the other) Ford plug-in hybrids are very similar in nature, but are notable time stamps of rapidly changing automotive eras. The C-Max Energi and its Hybrid brethren were born of an ambitious desire to take down all forms of the Toyota Prius, the best-selling hybrid hatchback, which around that time was also joined by the Prius Plug-in with a mere nine miles of range.

But today Ford has looked beyond Toyota and the Prius to focus on all-electric offerings, in large part leaving the PHEV version of its popular Escape a relatively low-volume technology ‘bridge’ for folks not ready to let go of internal combustion engines entirely, especially for longer trips.

Bill Ford and Idris Elba with the Ford Mustang Mach-E

Whether you’re a fan of PHEVs, BEVs, or prefer regular hybrids, there is much less of a corporate push behind Ford’s compact PHEV crossover, which starts at right around $40,000 for 2024. This is especially true compared to the battery-electric Mustang Mach-E that’s similarly sized but also more expensive, at just over $45,000 to start but rising well up into the $60K range from there.

There’s also much more competition on the plug-in front, whether all-electric or PHEV, as well as used plug-in vehicles that for now are by far the most affordable way to enter the EV world. These pre-owned EVs and PHEVs will help introduce a new generation of drivers to an electric world, and they even have $4,000 (max) federal rebates now.

Sailun Erange series tires 11

The folks who have lived with any of these electrified fuel-saving vehicles for a time, like us with Si-mee, will appreciate a set of ERange tires the most. Their positive effect on range will be far greater on a tired old plug-in hatchback than they would be on a brand new electrified crossover like the Escape PHEV. They can’t quite make up for a decade’s worth of advancements and a larger battery, but they’re an inexpensive and easy solution to keep an old gal like Si-mee performing the way we need her to for a long time to come.

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