Gasoline engines, two new hybrids, all-wheel drive, acres of tech – Ford is throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at its new-for-2020 Escape crossover.
After binning every sedan in its lineup, it is more important than ever for Ford to knock it out of the park with each new crossover and SUV it introduces. After all, if these fail, they don’t have the car market on which to fall back anymore.
Starting under the hood, Ford is offering a pair of hybrid options in addition to the traditional gasoline engine powertrains. A class they arguably helped create 15 years ago with the original Escape Hybrid, the 2020 hybrid models will be available with and without plug-in capability. The trims of SE Sport and Titanium come standard with Ford’s familiar hybrid propulsion system which includes a 2.5-liter four banger hooked to a continuously variable transmission. This front-drive model is projected to produce a combined system horsepower of 198 and a top speed of 85 mph in electric-only mode.
The plug-in hybrid variant, available on every trim level except S and SE Sport, is projected to have a range of at least 30 miles in electric-only mode. Escape Plug-In Hybrid has Level 1 & 2 charging ports, the latter allowing Escape to hoover up enough electrons to fill its battery in about 3.5 hours. Its lithium-ion battery is underneath the rear seat and takes up one-third of the space compared to the old Escape Hybrid battery.
Those wishing to motor solely on gasoline will find two different powertrains on that side of the ledger as well. A 2.0L EcoBoost inline-four will be available on fancy-pants Titanium models while a 1.5L EcoBoost three-pot is standard equipment on the S, SE, and SEL trims. The former is said to make a not insignificant 250 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, while the smaller mill is good for 180 ponies and 177 lb-ft of twist when swilling 93 octane fuel. They can tow 3,500 lbs and 2,000 lbs, respectively, when properly equipped, and are latched to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
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All powertrains except the Plug-in hybrid variant will be available with all-wheel drive. In fact, the 2.0L EcoBoost is listed only as an AWD machine. The PHEV is front-drive only.
But a crossover isn’t much good if it can’t fit the family and all their daily detritus. According to Ford, the 2020 Escape will offer best-in-class rear legroom thanks to a bench that can slide fore and aft about six inches. Pushing the second-row seats fully forward will reveal 37.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Digging through the spec sheet, it is shown that 33.5 cubic feet will be available when the rear bench is optimized for passengers. For comparison, Honda advertises 39.2 cubes in the 2019 CR-V.
Ford says the new Escape improves head- and hip room measure compared to the old rig, which makes sense given it grows by a couple of inches in length and width. It takes a small 0.2-inch haircut in body height. The new car’s wheelbase is about an inch longer.
Ford has been eager to tout its tech prowess, as it did with the new Explorer shown earlier this year. That attitude doesn’t change with the 2020 Ford Escape. Driver-assist technologies such as Co-Pilot360 and automatic parking tools pop up throughout the range, while adaptive cruise that’ll haul the Escape to a full stop will be available on some models. An 8-inch touchscreen, standard on everything except the base model, shares information with an optional 12.3-inch gauge cluster that looks remarkably similar to what’s available in the new Explorer.
CarPlay, Android Auto, a yaffle of charging points – they’re all present and accounted for. Snazzy versions of the 2020 Ford Escape will be available with a 575-watt 10-speaker B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen, an audio unit that sounds great in the Edge if not quite as good as Acura’s ELS Studio 3D system. Escape’s smaller cabin size compared to its bigger brother may prove to be an advantage in the audiophile department.
The new Escape, available in S, SE, SE Sport, SEL and Titanium series trim levels, will be built at Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky. Vehicles are due to reach showrooms this fall. Plug-in hybrid units should arrive next spring.
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