• Fourth-generation compact SUV arrives this fall
  • Two turbo engines, a 3-cylinder and a 4-cylinder, are available
  • Hybrid and PHEV models also available
  • Ford Co-Pilot360 safety suite is standard
  • Roomier interior
  • Rear seat slides fore/aft six inches

 

Ford’s second-best-selling vehicle, the compact crossover SUV Escape, gets a complete redesign for the 2020 model year. Although the Escape chalked up less than a third of the volume of the Ford F-Series pickup in 2018, it still racked up over 250,000 sales last year, and has sold over 4 million units since its introduction as a 2001 model. For its new fourth-generation Escape, Ford reworked virtually every aspect of the compact crossover SUV – everything from its exterior and interior to its chassis, powertrain and electronics.

Exterior shaped by the wind

Escape’s exterior redesign was led by Joel Piatkowski, Global Director of Design for cars and crossovers at Ford. The new Escape is lower, wider and longer than the model it replaces. Its sloped roofline, optimized liftgate and shrouded underbody help make it the most aerodynamic Escape to date. Engineers and designers spent over 220 hours in the wind tunnel tuning the air flow over, around and below the crossover.

Escape wears a shield-shaped trapezoidal grille inspired by the sixth-generation Mustang, and front fascia details that borrow from the Ford GT. It rides on a 106.7-inch wheelbase, 0.8 inches longer than the 2019 model’s, with a 62.4-inch front/61.8-inch rear track, up 2.6 inches front/2.1 inches rear. The beltline has been lowered, improving outward vision for rear seat passengers. Tailgate badges with raised lettering give the new 2020 Ford Escape a more premium look.

Interior with slide appeal

The Escape interior has been reworked with an eye toward flexibility. The second row of the non-hybrid models can slide fore and aft by roughly six inches so you can balance the space between passengers and cargo as needed. The glovebox is large enough to handle a 10-inch tablet, while the luggage compartment can swallow a large dog crate or four golf bags. The new Escape also carries four golfers – or five if you’re willing to squeeze a middle passenger onto the 60/40-split folding second row bench seat, which has excellent leg room when it’s slid all the way rearward. Steering wheel travel has been increased by 1.3 inches at the request of taller drivers.

Lighter and stiffer chassis and body structure

The 2020 Ford Escape is more than 200 pounds lighter and 10 percent more rigid than the 2019 model, thanks in part to an increased use of high-strength steel, aluminum and boron steel. The use of martensite steel in the A-pillars allowed engineers to get the required strength with thinner structure, which benefits the Escape’s outward view while reducing mass. A smart steel sandwich, with mild steel around a polymer, toughens the Escape’s door skins while reducing sound conduction. Neodymium magnets in the Escape’s speakers further help lighten the load.

Of note, the new Escape is based on Ford’s all-new modular unibody chassis that also provides the basis for a forthcoming compact rugged utility vehicle more tuned for off-road use and will look nothing like the nothing like the new Escape. This vehicle, for the record, is not the upcoming Bronco, which will be based on the body-on-frame chassis of the Ranger pickup.

Class of 2020: The New and Redesigned Cars, Trucks and SUVs

Four powertrains

The Escape will come with a choice of four powertrains for 2020. A 3-cylinder 1.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged gasoline engine (180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque) will be standard in S, SE and SEL trim levels. This 3-cylinder engine has a cylinder-deactivation program that lets it run on two cylinders for improved fuel economy on the highway.  

A 4-cylinder 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged gasoline engine (250 horsepower/275 pound-feet) is available in SEL, standard in Titanium.  A hybrid gasoline-electric setup (HEV) using a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder gas engine with a 1.1-kWh electric motor (combined output: 198 horsepower) comes in the SE Sport and Titanium, while a plug-in hybrid gasoline-electric system (PHEV) with a 2.5-liter gas engine and 14.4-kWh electric motor (combined output: 209 horsepower) powers the SE, SEL and Titanium models. (Of note, the horsepower and torque figures for the 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter engines were generated using 93-octane fuel. Expect slightly lower figures using the required 87-octane gasoline.) 

Gasoline-only Escapes come with a new 8-speed automatic transmission, but only the 2.0-liter gets shift paddles. The Escape Hybrid and PHEV models use an electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Front-wheel drive is standard with the 1.5-liter, hybrid and PHEV. All-wheel drive is standard on 2.0-liter gasoline models, and available on the 1.5-liter and hybrid. Selectable drive modes are standard on all models.

While no EPA fuel economy figures have been released yet, we do know the 2020 Ford Escape plug-in hybrid has an EV-only range of up to 30 miles. Also, the standard (non-plug-in) Escape Hybrid can travel more than 550 miles between fill-ups. Of note, the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack of the 2020 Escape Hybrid is mounted beneath the rear seat, where it doesn’t intrude on cargo space.

The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid and PHEV have four EV modes to satisfy individual driver needs. In Auto EV mode, the Escape decides if it should run on gas or electric power. In EV Now, drivers can operate the new Escape in an all-electric mode. EV Later is a gas-only mode that conserves electric miles for use later. In EV Charge, drivers can charge the battery while driving to make electric-only miles available for use later.

Technology, infotainment, safety

Connectivity in the new Ford Escape should be excellent, as a standard embedded modem is included with each vehicle. Ford Pass Connect with 4G LTE Wi-Fi is available; it can connect up to 10 devices at once at a distance of up to 50 feet. Wireless device charging also will be available, and up to four USB connections along three 12-volt sockets will be onboard.

A 4.2-inch center touch screen is standard on the 2020 Ford Escape, and an 8-inch touch screen with Sync3, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Ford + Alexa, and Waze is fitted to SE models and above. A 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster can be ordered in the SE, Sport and Titanium Escapes, as can a head-up display with a pop-up screen. 

On the safety front, the 2020 Escape comes standard with Co-Pilot360, Ford’s suite of safety technologies. Auto high-beam headlamps, a blind-spot warning, cross-traffic alert and a lane-keeping system are all standard, as are pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, a rearview camera, post-collision braking, auto-hold and hill start assist. Active Park Assist 2.0 (which works in parallel or perpendicular parking) is optional, as are adaptive cruise control (with Stop & Go), evasive steering assist, and lane centering.

Trims and pricing

The 2020 Ford Escape will be built at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky, in S, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Titanium trim levels. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date in the fall of 2019. Plug-in Escapes are scheduled to arrive in the spring of 2020. Pricing has not been announced for any of the 2020 Ford Escapes, but they should be close to 2019 prices, which start at $24,105 for the S and go up to $32,460 for the Titanium.

Don't want to wait for the new Escape? You can get a good deal on the outgoing 2019 Ford Escape

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