2020 Ford Escape
For twenty years, the Ford Escape has been one of the most common compact SUVs out on our roads. The vehicle had its ups and downs over the years. What keeps the Escape going is its place as one of the top selling models in its class.
For 2020, a new Escape has arrived. It is setting a lot of benchmarks for Ford and its competitors. This new model heralds the return of the Hybrid driveline, while adding a segment-first plug-in model.
Will the newest Escape do justice to its history? Or, has it simply become one of the pack in a highly competitive field?
First off, Ford employed some of its new global design elements onto the 2020 Escape. The front end is split by this line that wraps around the entire vehicle. Below the line is a single large grille, while the headlights are mounted above it. There are plenty of rounded edge on both sides of this distinguishing line. It all ends with horizontal taillights and a sleeker roofline meeting this line.
Our tester is the SE Sport Hybrid model, which is decked in blacked-out trim all around. On a black Escape, this gives you a monotone effect. A set of 19-inch satin alloy wheels finish off this Escape’s look. In all, this new Escape is a dramatic change from previous generations, in particular the last model.
Once inside, you will see an equally dramatic change on the instrument panel. A full 12.3-inch TFT digital binnacle starts with a compelling landscape screen onto a blue background with two round instruments. Both round “dials” seem to be confusing, including the power information between the gas engine and the electric motor. At least there is a digital speedometer and a set of readouts in-between the two “dials.”
The SYNC3 infotainment system resides on a tablet-like screen on top of the center stack. Below it is the climate controls and some knobs for the audio system. The Escape receives Ford’s rotary shifter, which saves enough space for two cupholders and plenty of storage spaces. The controls on the stalks, steering wheel, and in the center stack offer plenty of logic for drivers to control.
Seating for five is possible. Up front are some comfortable seats that offer some support behind the wheel. Rear seat space is quite good with plenty of headroom for taller people. Legroom is ample, as well. The rear seats do fold down to provide more cargo space – up to 60.8 cubic feet. Non-Hybrid models will have even more space because of the electric motor/battery system – up to 65.4 cubic feet in total.
Ford last offered the Escape Hybrid in 2012. For the new 2020 Escape, the hybrid system received some updates, including a new Continuously Variable Transmission that works with the 2.5-liter Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder engine and the electric motor. This driveline is rated for 200 horsepower. Our tester had all-wheel-drive. In all, this is not a bad driveline that delivers decent performance around town. On the highway, acceleration was OK, with some prodding needed from the pedal.
Fuel economy could be better, as we saw an average of 36.5 MPG. Ford rated the Ford Escape SE Sport Hybrid to average around 41 MPG.
The ride quality is OK. It is neither silky smooth nor absolutely bouncy. The suspension does its best to manage the bumps from the road. Cornering response is decent, it offers some roll, but not enough to alarm drivers at moderate speeds.
The steering works well and offers tight turns. The on-center feel is a bit soft, but an adjustment to the drive mode may help it along. We were impressed with the brakes and its stopping power. Pedal feel is good with the system providing solid stops. In the Hybrid model, you get a readout giving you feedback on how well you used the brakes in relation to recovering energy back to the battery.
The 2020 Escape lineup starts at $24,885. Our SE Sport Hybrid AWD tester came out to $34,490. A plug-in version of the Hybrid is coming later in 2020.
The Escape is in a tight pack of compact SUVs for the consumer to choose from. There are only a few hybrid models, such as the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V. The rest of the segment offer non-electrified models, including the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Nissan Rouge, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Jeep Cherokee, and Volkswagen Tiguan.
The new 2020 Ford Escape offers a good package with distinctive styling and a choice of engines, electrification options, and drivelines. It is competitive in a crowded field of equals. Take a look and see if this is the compact SUV for you.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors