Escape to the Future

Buyers are increasingly looking to crossovers and SUVs as their primary mode of transportation. As these vehicles become more car-like in most respects, is it any surprise that they also adopt sedan and hatchback design language? At Ford, apparently not.

Ford’s popular Escape has been completely redesigned for 2020 with a lower and more car-like look, offering compact crossover buyers plenty of options with gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid versions. The gasoline and standard hybrid are available with front- and four-wheel-drive, while the plug-in hybrid is available exclusively with front-wheel drive. Gasoline versions come in S, SE, SEL and Titanium trim, while the hybrids offer SE and Titanium trim choices.

Although the new Escape’s dramatic restyling may make it appear smaller than the previous generation, it is actually a bit longer and wider with a slightly lower roofline. Interior space has increased with additional rear legroom and up to 37.5 cubic feet of useable space behind the rear seats. A Panoramic sunroof is available on specific models.

Escape is available with either a 1.5 liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine producing 180 horsepower, or a 2.0 liter EcoBoost four-cylinder delivering 250 horsepower. Both come with start-stop engine technology to enhance efficiency. The 1.5-liter engine is standard on S, SE, and SEL models with the 2.0-liter standard on the Titanium and optional on the SEL.

The 1.5-liter engine has cylinder deactivation that shuts down one of the cylinders under low-load conditions, allowing it to operate as a two-cylinder engine for improved fuel economy. Both engines connect to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-liter engine adds SelectShift with paddle controls. The three-cylinder EcoBoost powerplant is available with standard front- or optional all-wheel drive, while the four-cylinder comes only with all-wheel drive. Tow rating for the three-cylinder Escape is 2000 pounds with the four-cylinder capable of towing 3500 pounds.

Both hybrids use an Atkinson cycle, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. The hybrid offers a combined 198 horsepower, while the plug-in offers a slightly higher 209 horsepower rating. A PowerSplit electronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) transfers power to the road. The hybrid uses a 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, while the plug-in hybrid has more powerful 14.4 kWh pack that provides an estimated all-electric range of 30 miles. Both battery packs fit under the floor.

The Escape PHEV has a Level 1/Level 2 AC charging port. Using a household outlet and the 110-volt Level 1 charger requires about 10 to 11 hours for a full charge. Charge time is a much quicker 3.5 hours using a home or public 240-volt Level 2 charger.

Ford’s CoPilot360 driver assistance features are standard on all models. These include Cross Traffic Alert, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Auto High-Beam Headlamps, Lane-Keeping Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, and Rear View Camera.  Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and lane centering plus Park Assist are optional on Titanium models. A voice activated navigation system is available.

The Escape’s 8-inch touchscreen, standard on all but the base S trim, comes with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system that’s compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In addition, 4G LTE Wi-Fi is standard on all versions. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is optional on all but the base S model. An optional head-up display projects images on a six-inch screen rather than on the windshield.

The gas models and the hybrid will go on sale in fall 2019 with the plug-in-hybrid Escape will arrive in spring 2020. Prices and fuel economy data have yet to be announced.