The Ford Escape first rolled out onto the scene way back around the turn of the millennium. Back then, even the best SUV didn’t use a hybrid powertrain yet. (In fact, it’d be the Ford Escape to be the first to use a hybrid electric engine in 2005). Instead, the SUVs of 2001 were often big, beefy, and more concerned with the utility aspect than the sport aspect of SUV. Even the Ford Escape of that era looked very different from the Ford Escape of today.
The 2020 Ford Escape is a smaller and more efficient version of its first generation. And with that said, this new Ford Escape has earned plenty of praise from the automotive community. Critics, drivers, and dealers all find consensus in the fact that the 2020 Ford Escape is quite well-rounded, and in more ways than just one. Sporting a plethora of configurations, a decent powertrain, and plenty of smart features, the Ford Escape is what we believe an SUV ought to be. And today, we are going to take a closer look at what makes this ever-evolving SUV so special.
A Look at Prices and Trims
The Ford Escape does an excellent job of balancing affordability, without ever skimping on what you get at baseline packages. Purchase an entry-level model, and you’ll pay as little as $24,885 MSRP. With a seating capacity of five, the Ford Escape is exactly what you’d expect from a classic SUV; that’s until you dive into the trims. The Ford Escape comes with a surprisingly large and healthy spread of trims that include both gasoline and hybrid powertrains. These trims include the S, SE, SE Plug-in Hybrid, SEL, Titanium Hybrid, and Titanium models.
No matter which trim you decide to purchase, though, you’ll likely find a wholly satisfying experience behind the wheel. Ford has done an excellent job in recent years to provide drivers who buy even baseline models with a rather remarkable ride.
Standard Escape Performance
What should you expect from the performance of an SUV like the Ford Escape? Well, for starters, the Ford Escape isn’t large, by any effect. This may be the only drawback of the Ford Escape, is that it isn’t really robust in the size category. Nor is it exactly an off-road powerhouse. While the Ford Escape can be tweaked for better off-road performance, don’t expect to be taking on the trails of Moab, Utah, without some serious modification.
That said, the base model of the Ford Escape starts with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. This is a lot of power for a turbo-3 engine, and while small, this foundational powertrain pays off in terms of fuel economy with base models earning 27 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway. A front-wheel drivetrain is standard on all S models, as is 8-speed automatic transmission.
While this performance may not be game-changing, you can find a slew of drive modes that allows you to adjust your drivetrain in accordance with the road and your needs. Select between Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Snow, and Sand drive modes, giving you a completely dynamic approach to piloting the Ford Escape. 17-inch wheels are standard on the Ford Escape, but if you want a smoother ride upgrade to the 19-inch set, which reduces overall road impact. Plus, beyond those options, there are many major choices to make that will upgrade this performance.
Upgrade the base powertrain of the Ford Escape, and you’ll find a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 250 hp and 280lb-ft of torque. This powertrain is assisted by an 8-speed automatic transmission and can be equipped with an all-wheel drivetrain to expand on capability and handling. This turbo-4 engine build allows the Ford Escape to launch from 0-60 in about seven seconds, which isn’t half bad for a vehicle of its class. When adjusted for performance, the Ford Escape still manages to provide some decent fuel economy earning 23 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway.
That leads us to the hybrid performance of the Ford Escape. Surprisingly enough, while the Ford Escape was one of the first to issue a hybrid powertrain for an SUV, this more fuel-efficient model hasn’t been offered since 2012. The 2020 model revitalizes what was initiated back in 2005, and capitalizes on that first foray into hybrid electric powertrains. In the Ford Escape trim lineup, you can find gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain variants of the SE Sport and Titanium trim levels.
The base hybrid powertrain is made up of a 2.5-liter inline-4 engine and a 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which amounts to 200 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. With the assistance of a CVT and a front-wheel drivetrain, the hybrid variant of the Ford Escape manages to earn 44 MPG in the city and 37 MPG on the highway. The available all-wheel drivetrain lessens fuel economy, but not by much at 44 MPG in the city and 37 MPG on the highway; this is still very impressive. All in all, with the gas upgrades and the hybrids, the Ford Escape delivers quite a palette of powertrain options to choose from, allowing every driver to get exactly what they need. But the performance is not the only impressive thing about this SUV.
The interior of the Ford Escape also has a lot to offer. While the vehicle isn’t outrageously large, measuring in with a length of 180.5 inches and a wheelbase of 106.7 inches, the Ford Escape manages to use every inch available, providing a rather substantial interior space. The gas-powered Ford Escape provides a maximum of 65.4 cu.ft. of cargo space for drivers, and 38.8 inches of legroom for rear-seat passengers. Cloth upholstery is standard in some models, as are plenty of soft-touch plastic. Although, if you want more high-grade materials, you can find them when you upgrade to the optional leather upholstery.
In the way of tech, things fall a little short in base models, but that’s likely to make room for all of the active safety gear that’s issued as standard. The base model Escape S manages to provide Bluetooth connectivity, two USB ports, and a simple 4.2-inch LCD screen that uses analog controls. While competitors may offer more in the way of baseline infotainment, that low-bar entry price makes the non-touch infotainment screen excusable to some degree.
Upgrades come quickly in the Ford Escape, with the SE model offering a 10-way power adjustable driver seat, keyless ignition, and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. This trim model provides further configuration, offering a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10-speaker audio system designed by B&O as optional. The Ford Escape can also be amplified into a near-luxury category in the Titanium trim. In this model, features include standard leather upholstery, that upgraded instrument panel and audio system, acoustic glass, ambient lighting, and a rather nifty 110-volt AC power outlet.
The Ford Escape is Possibly the Best SUV of 2020
While there are many SUVs on the market today, the 2020 Ford Escape may just be the best as it offers a comprehensive package, even on lower-end models. And with the return of a hybrid powertrain, the Ford Escape is more diverse than ever, providing a driving experience that ought not to be missed out on. So, is the Ford Escape the best SUV of 2020? We think so.