The all-new version of Ford’s best-selling compact crossover
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2020 Ford Escape
Base price (SEL AWD trim): $35,049
Options: $1,750 panoramic roof; $150 cargo mat; $150 floor liners; $850 Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist package
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $39,889
The new Escape’s styling is more handsome in person than it is in pictures. It’s a sleek, simple, curvy design and comes across as far less all-over-the-place as the last generation Escape. The lines are clean, as are the details – such as the LED tail lights. Nothing overdone, just a cool hockey-stick-shaped light bar on each rear corner. The front and rear fascias have faux-skidplates which add a note of ruggedness and the dual tailpipes are a nice touch. One of the first things I noticed was how huge the LED headlight pods are!
This trim’s 18-inch wheels are very nice, and my Escape’s Velocity Blue metallic paint was certainly eye-catching. From a few angles, the styling gives off a watered-down Porsche Macan vibe, but overall, it’s a relatively bland redesign. That’s not the worst thing – it certainly won’t offend anyone and should age well.
The interior styling doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s a massive improvement in space and user-friendliness over the last generation’s weird angled stuff. Ergonomics are vastly better, and it’s clean and straight-forward.
The materials are decent, although certainly not world-class. There is a nice mix of colours and tones in the interior, and there are enough soft-touch plastics to please most drivers. I ended up really liking the streaky-finish centre console material. It doesn’t pick up fingerprints and adds some nice visual texture. Also, the doors are finished in a nifty-looking dimpled panel and I liked the nice chunky heated steering wheel.
The seats, also two-toned and upholstered in Ford’s ActiveX material (read: fake leather), are heated and quite comfortable – the driver’s side is power-adjustable and has memory settings.
Jutting out of the dash is the SYNC3 touchscreen which combines phone, audio, navigation and vehicle settings. I like SYNC and I find it’s a clean, user-friendly interface.
Below the screen are some hard buttons for quick access and knobs for volume and tuning, all of which I appreciate, and underneath those is the automatic climate control system. Overhead is a huge panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade.
My review vehicle was outfitted with a pretty full-featured set of driver assistance technologies. It came with adaptive cruise control, a rear-view camera, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping system and automatic high beams.
The back seat space is excellent – at 5’10”, I had two inches of headroom to spare, and nearly 6 inches of legroom. That’s very impressive. The seats are quite comfortable as well. The middle seat is narrow and the floor isn’t flat, but for two rear adult passengers it’s great.
Rear passengers get adjustable air vents and a 12V plug which will be used by nobody – why no USBs, Ford? It’s also weird to see a $40,000 vehicle that doesn’t have heated rear seats these days, but here you have one.
There are 2 sets of child seat anchors if you’re toting little ones around.
There’s an open bin at the intersection of the centre stack and the console with a slot that would fit any smart phone along with USB-C and 12V plugs. The armrest lid flips up to reveal a large bin with a USB-A plug. Overall I would have preferred a couple of more spots to put my stuff. This was an issue with the last Escape as well.
Pop the power liftgate and you will find a substantial 974L trunk. I was very impressed by its capacity. If you need more, the rear seats split 60/40 and fold down to net you 1852L of capacity. If you do that, you’ll see the rear seats do not fold flat – they start at about 2 inches higher than the trunk floor and then slope even further up toward the backs of the front seats.
Under the Hood
Motivating the Escape is a 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission – and an all-wheel drive system. The engine puts out 181HP at 6,000 RPM and 190 lb.ft of torque at 3,000 RPM. This combination is rated at 8.9/7.6 L/100 km (city/highway) – we averaged 8.5 L/100 km.
If you need more jam, you can opt for a 2L EcoBoost engine which is quite a little rocket that takes things up significantly in horsepower and torque numbers – it’s also much thirstier as a result. Of more interest to me are the two hybrid options – you can get a regular or a plug-in hybrid powertrain in this vehicle as well.
There is certainly enough power for everyday driving, but this smaller engine does not make for a quick vehicle. If you hammer on it to get somewhere in a hurry, particularly when it comes to passing, things start to feel strained. And it doesn’t sound great either when it’s under load.
Gears are selected via a rotary gear selector. The transmission itself is smooth, but is definitely programmed to sail its way up the gears and drop RPMs in a hurry to save on fuel, which can leave the vehicle feeling a bit flat-footed as it takes a second to get into the right gear.
You can also choose between different drive modes – Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Deep Snow/Sand. Putting it into Sport absolutely changes the responsiveness but it will cost you at the pump, as it hangs on to higher revs in each gear.
The previous generation of Escape was very sporting when it came to handling, and I feel that this generation’s focus has changed. The ride is notably more comfortable and the handling is less athletic. I found it significantly more tippy with plenty of body lean. It surprised me to be sure, but it gets full marks for comfort. And when it comes to competency on the road, the new Escape isn’t suffering – it handles corners and curves just fine. It just comes across as softer.
Visibility out of the Escape is quite good and the braking was just fine.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was middling. She didn’t like the styling at first, but it grew on her – as it did on me. She said it was easy to drive and park, and there was nothing wrong with it. High praise!
Overall, the new Escape is a good vehicle. We found it easy to live with, and Ford has done a good job in creating a middle of the road crossover that will please most buyers. I’m not sure I agree with the pricing strategy. It seems a touch high, as this is not the top-trim, and it’s going up against big players like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V – both of which are stellar competitors.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Ford Canada.
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