ó Thereís a smug mindset at work in America that thinks the
middle ground is no longer good enough. Listen to politicians,
talking heads, celebrities, fashionistas and bloggers, and youíll
see it. Extremism is taking hold in every facet of our lives, from
our music to our TV shows, the politicians we are asked to vote for
and even the clothes weíre expected to wear.
middle ground holds, and itís a wonderful place to be. And,
believe it or not, thereís a crossover SUV that embraces that
American heart: the 2020 Ford Escape.
Welcome the fourth
generation of the Ford Escape, offered for 2020 with two
gasoline-powered drivelines and a new hybrid model. Totally
redesigned for the new model year and wrapped in tastefully
aerodynamic sheet metal, the new Escape wears variations of modern
Ford styling cues, including a trapezoidal grille capped by the
brandís classic blue oval badge. Itís far more inviting than the
third generationís awkwardly off-putting angular design motif, one
that lived on well past its sell-by date.
Pleasingly modern and
handsome, the Escapeís cabin lacks the adolescent Gameboy design
feel prevalent in too many cars these days. Its grown up, with a
modern, sophisticated instrument panel, anchored by a center mounted
flatscreen ó 4.2 inches on S models, 8 inches on others ó and a
dazzling full-color 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster in front of
the driver. As in other Fords, the user interface is easy to figure
out. Nevertheless, material quality is nothing special, and
thereís not much difference in feel regardless of trim level, be
it S, SE, SE Sport, SEL and Titanium. Also, some buyers may find the
push-button starter hard to reach, as itís placed on an angled
part of the instrument panel. Others may find the rotary
transmission dial takes some getting used to, but it frees up a lot
of interior space.
But thereís much to
admire, with comfortably high seats with good head and legroom up
front and generous rear seat legroom, superior to many competitors.
Credit the rear seat that has six inches of fore-and-aft seat travel
to adjust for more people or more cargo. Once underway, the cabin is
very quiet with negligible wind or road noise, except on the very
worst surfaces thanks to insulated front window glass.
Power comes from
three different drivelines.
turbocharged three-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic are
standard on base S, SE and SEL models. Rated at 181 horsepower and
190 pound-feet of torque, itís offered with front-wheel or
all-wheel drive. Optional on the SEL and standard on the Titanium is
SEL a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine rated at 250
horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is
standard. Ford also offers new Hybrid models, including a standard
and plug-in variant, with a driveline rated at 200 horsepower and
mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission.
satisfactory with the base 1.5-liter engine, and effortless with its
larger 2.0-liter sibling. Ironically, the hybridís 2.5-liter
four-cylinder gas engine is the Escapeís largest gas engine, but
it has a gruff sound thatís out of character. That said,
performance is satisfying, even in fuel-sipping Eco Mode. And when
it comes to filling the Escapeís tank, it wonít break the bank
ó as the Hybrid returned a class-leading 45 mpg without much
Regardless of engine,
transmission behavior is exemplary, offering up quick shifts just
when you need them. That said, manual mode seemed slow to respond.
Body lean is very well controlled, coming on only as you start to
reach the limits of adhesion. Steering is nicely weighted, with a
touch of road feel, although there seems to be a little too much
play on-center. The hybridís extra weight can be felt in corners,
but it enhances the Escapeís overall feel. Bump absorption is
impressive, with no rebound and little to no body motion over bad
surfaces. The Escape feels beautifully balanced and agile, returning
a relaxed, refined driving experience.
As youíd expect,
such driver assistance features as blind spot warning, cross-traffic
alert, automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist, automatic
emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision
warning, a rearview camera, and hill start assist are standard.
Parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and evasive steering assist
The redesigned 2020
Ford Escape has an ťlan and sophistication that seems to have
escaped the previous version. With its handsome, conservative good
looks, perfect size and up to date tech package, it should have
little trouble reaching buyers before rather Escape to other brands,
not to mention those who find ripped jeans the dumbest fashion
statement since the polyester leisure suit.
2020 Ford Escape
Base price: $24,885
EPA fuel economy
(city/highway): 27/33 mpg
33.5-65.8 cubic feet
Curb weight: 3,299