Test Drive: 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid
2020 Ford Escape SE Sport Hybrid AWD
Class: Compact Crossover
Miles driven: 240
Fuel used: 5.4 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B-|
|Power and Performance||C+|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||198-hp 2.5-liter|
|Engine Type||4-cylinder hybrid|
Real-world fuel economy: 44.4 mpg
Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 43/37/40 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $29,755 (not including $1195 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: SE Sport Premium Package ($3395)
Price as tested: $34,345
The great: Fuel economy; driving range; good occupant space within compact exterior dimensions
The good: Car-like styling and handling; comfortable ride
The not so good: Not as much cargo-carrying capacity as many class rivals
More Escape price and availability information
For 2020, the all-new, completely redesigned Ford Escape has put the welcome mat back out for hybrid power. Though an early adopter of shared gas/electric motivation, the compact crossover sport-utility skipped a generation with the hybrid. Now, though, dual power is being greeted with arms open wide enough to embrace a conventional hybrid and a plug-in type.
Consumer Guide editors got to test an all-wheel-drive SE Sport hybrid. (At the time of CG’s test, the plug-in was still months away from its planned introduction date.) It starts at $30,950 with delivery, but the tested truck came in at $34,345 with the addition of the SE Sport Premium option package.
Ford has chosen to make the new Escape more style-conscious than the boxier last-generation design was; it calls the sleeker look “urban sensual.” By whatever name, the ’20 Escape exterior is a bit wider and longer than its predecessor. At 106.7 inches, wheelbase is 0.8 inches greater.
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The 2020 Escape Hybrid powerplant, also available in a higher-trim Titanium model, links a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with gas-saving Atkinson-cycle valve actuation to an 88-kW electric motor. They generate a combined 198 horsepower. An electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) governs power delivery, and features five driving modes that can be selected to meet the driver’s needs for power, economy, or optimal traction. There’s satisfying, if not exhilarating, power with subtle transitions between gas and electric operation. The CVT has some slight hesitation when asked to summon extra speed for passing. Steps Ford took to filter out noise—including active noise cancellation—seemed fairly successful.
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The hybrid has a projected driving range of 550 miles. CGers collectively topped 44 mpg in their time with the test vehicle. This driver recorded 39.45 mpg after covering 114 miles, 55 percent of that expended in city-type operation.
Outfitted with optional 19-inch wheels (17s are standard on the SE Sport), the test truck rode and handled well, even if steering was a little light and short on road feel. Open-road running induced some tire noise that managed to penetrate the anti-noise defenses. The regenerative braking system that captures power for the electric-motor battery is subject to the soft, imprecise pedal feel that is typical of the hybrid driving experience, but ultimate stopping power was not bad.
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Major standard-equipment features include a black grille, mirror caps, and side-window moldings; LED taillights; 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster; SYNC 3 infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility; satellite radio; FordPass Connect with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that can accommodate up to 10 mobile devices; keyless entry and starting; electronic automatic climate control; heated front seats with a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat; heated, leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel; heated exterior mirrors; and the Ford Co-Pilot360 safety suite with forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, post-collision braking, and automatic high-beam headlamps. The test vehicle’s Premium option package added the bigger alloy wheels, perforated leatherlike “ActiveX” seat covering, panoramic moonroof, power liftgate, remote starting, adaptive cruise control, and voice-activated navigation.
There is accommodating leg- and headroom in both rows. One of the key features of the new Escape is a sliding rear seat with six inches of travel that helps to expand rear legroom when moved all the way back. Three narrow adults may fit across the rear seat—and three kids certainly will—thanks in part to a low, flat center hump that gives the middle rider a place for feet. Driver vision is fairly unencumbered except, perhaps, to the far rear corners. The SE Sport surrounds front-seat denizens with a lot of soft and compressible surfaces, but while appearances are maintained in back, the top and center of the doors are textured hard plastic.
The programmable driver-information display is colorful and easy to read. The hybrid shows a readout of electric-power use—including “coaching” feedback on how effectively the driver is recapturing energy—off to the right side. Audio inputs can be made with little effort (or head scratching) directly on the touchscreen. The climate system has convenient dials for dual-zone temperature settings on either end of a small cluster of buttons for various functions.
Storage for personal items is the province of a large glove box and console box, a net pouch on the passenger side of the driveline hump, an open bin at the front of the console that houses device inputs, a pouch on the back of the front passenger seat, four small door pockets with bottle holders, and open cup holders in the console and pull-down rear armrest. The main cargo area isn’t surpassingly big, even considering the Escape’s tidy dimensions. Indeed, at a maximum of 34.4 cubic feet, the hybrid doesn’t have quite the overall capacity of the gas-engine models, even though it packages the briefcase-shaped motor battery below the rear seats. Plus, it lacks the flexibility of the gas jobs’ configurable load floor. The cargo floor rises at a slight angle toward the front of the vehicle, which makes for a direct transition when the 60/40-split rear seats are retracted.
Ford’s increasing reliance on crossovers and SUVs gives it ample cause to build them in all kinds of sizes, shapes, and levels of capability as it abandons traditional sedan territory. The company makes a run for it with the new Escape.
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