Ford gave the Escape a complete makeover for the 2020 model year. Longer, lower and wider, the fourth generation 2020 Ford Escape has an improved suspension, state-of-the-art technology and is a lot better looking, inside and out.
The Escape is once again available as a hybrid. It has been eight years since it was available with this fuel saving powertrain, which is standard on the top-level ($36,500) Titanium trim. All-wheel-drive will set you back a further $1,500.
The hybrid drivetrain includes a 2.5-lite four-cylinder engine operating on the Atkinson principal, giving up some torque in exchange for improved fuel efficiency. That slight power deficit is more than made up by a pair of electric motors powered by a briefcase-sized 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack tucked beneath the rear seat.
The gasoline/electric combination results in 209 horsepower. Lower trim levels come with a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine and the Titanium is also available with a 250-horsepower 2.0-litre turbocharge four.
The main advantage of hybrids is their urban fuel economy, where the electric motors can do their thing. The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid also yields impressive highway numbers.
Highway speeds and conditions usually mean the gasoline-powered engine is running full time, so fuel savings are not as evident in those conditions. Ford engineers have done an exceptional job of developing this drivetrain so not only does it excel in city conditions, it also yields some impressive highway numbers.
I was able to sneak into the 5 litres/100 km range on level portions of Route 7 between Dartmouth and Antigonish. Even on the Cabot Trail, the tester averaged less than 7/100!
Those same roads provided an excellent opportunity to sample the newfound alacrity of this latest Escape. The hybrid provided plenty of power, instantly available. The transition between gas/electric was as smooth as they come with only the sound of the combustion engine reminding you of the switchover. The ride/handling balance is well sorted. The electric steering provides ample if not impressive feedback, and the suspension does a good job of absorbing both minor and nasty surface changes.
2020 Ford Escape Hybrid offers up to 48 kilometres on electric power alone
I played with the six available driving modes (normal, eco, sport, slippery, snow and sand) enough to know that leaving it in normal will be the “normal’ practice for all but slippery conditions. Another feature bound to be used once or twice and then forgotten are the shift paddles at the rear of the steering wheel. Shift paddles with a continuously variable transmission? Really?
The Escape hybrid even comes with a tutorial system that provides an opportunity to fine tune your driving practices, and maximize the benefit of the hybrid system, including a top speed well beyond any speed limits and up to 48 kilometres on electric power alone.
If you want to tow your toys with an Escape, best opt for the turbo 2.0 version which, thanks to 280 lb.ft. of torque, is rated for a 1,587 kg. load. The hybrid is limited to 680 kilos. But don’t forget the hybrid will spend a lot less time, and money, at the fuel pumps.
In the cabin: crisp and clean, crammed with comfort and convenience
The interior of this new Escape has benefitted from a redesign. It is clean and functional. The 30-cm full digital instrument cluster and accompanying display for the latest version of Ford’s SYNC infotainment system are crisp and easily read in all light conditions.
As befits its top-of-the trim ladder position, the Escape Titanium has the full range of comfort and convenience features, including a configurable heads-up-display. The tester also came with a $2,300 Premium Package, which added leather seating, a panoramic sunroof, wireless cell-phoe charging and an impressive 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.
The 20-cm touchscreen offers both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It can even respond to Amazon Alexa voice commands.
The front buckets proved comfortable and supportive over the seven hundred kilometres between fuel stops! The ability to go so far between fill-ups is bladder stretching to say the least!
The second-row seat provides a surprising amount of space for such a compact automobile. With the battery pack beneath the rear seat, the interior design crew was able to maximize cargo space.
Safety has become a necessary and welcome feature when developing new vehicles. Ford addressed this area with a full array of active and passive systems under the Co-Pilot360 name.
Marketing mavens love to talk about how the product will be attractive to young buyers. I think the new Escape will also please those at the other end of the age spectrum. With the children gone and no need for a large vehicle, the Escape, especially in feature-laden Titanium trim, is an attractive proposition. The hybrid version would also be appreciated for those on a retirement income!
FACTS & FIGURES – 2020 Ford Escape Titanium Hybrid AWD
As tested: $43,149 including freight
Reverse sensing system, post collision braking, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, lane keep system, blind spot information and cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, rear view camera, remote keyless entry
Ford Pro-Pilot Assist (includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go), voice-activated touchscreen navigation, satellite radio, 10-speaker, 575-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system
31-cm digital instrument cluster, dual zone automatic climate control, electric parking brake, heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rear view mirror, power locks, windows, seats and mirrors with memory, push-button start, automatic headlights, active park assist, with front and rear parking aids, universal garage door opener, heated front seats and mirrors, hands-free foot-activated tailgate, 19-inch machined aluminum wheels, windshield wiper de-icer
Star White metallic tri-coat paint, $550, floor liners front and rear, $150; cargo mat, $150; Titanium premium package (110-volt outlet, heads-up display, panoramic sunroof), $2,300
Turbocharged 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and electric motor, 209 horsepower, regular fuel, continuously variable automatic transmission. NRCan rating (litres/100 km city/highway) 5.4/6.3
Length, 4,585 mm; wheelbase, 2,710 mm; weight, 1,765 kg
Competition: Toyota RAV4 hybrid