The Escape hybrid starts at $27k, goes up to $29k.
And dealerships usually won't part with them for less than sticker. They're exempt from the current employee pricing program.
I hate to say it but there are other cars I'd rather spend 27K on than this.
The current fashionable demand for them will enable economy of scale and competition that will reduce the premium. But, this may take a few years, as you say.
The plug-in hybrid is another issue entirely. Depending on one's driving habits, one could easily get 300 mpg.