The new Escape is longer and wider than before, but it’s not quite as tall. That is to say it’s less stubby looking than the model it replaces. Photo: Ford

What you should know: 2020 Ford Escape

So, what’s a nice car like this doing in a group of compact utility vehicles?

It seems that the big and beefy look for everything other than sedans and minivans is de rigueur in the design studios of many automakers. Bucking this copycat trend is the fourth-generation Escape — now available as a hybrid — which has been taken down a kinder, gentler path.

To say that the new model is a radical departure from previous Escapes is the grossest of understatements. Instead of creases and right angles, the low-slung body is all about curvy shapes.

It’s almost as if the stylists looked to the bubble-shaped first-generation Taurus sedan for inspiration. A bonus is the enlarged front and side glass, which is yet another departure from the current crop of utility models.

According to Ford, the Escape is now lighter by about 100 kilograms, despite the larger size. Overall length increases by slightly more than six centimetres, the width is up by about five centimetres and the distance between the front and rear wheels grows by nearly 2.5 centimetres. Owing to the new Escape’s lower profile, height is reduced by six centimetres, although maximum cargo volume has been enlarged.

The cabin has also been brought up to date in a trendy way. A rotary knob replaces the shift lever for the transmission, a touch-screen sticks out of the dashboard (instead of being built into it), and drivers can reconfigure the available 31-centimetre electronic gauge and info cluster according to their personal preferences.

The rear seat can be adjusted fore and aft by a few centimetres for greater legroom (or to create more cargo space), or folded flat.

For 2020, the Escape replaces the base 168-horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder with a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder that makes 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. Cylinder deactivation, which is unusual for a three-piston powerplant, shuts down one of the cylinders during flat-surface, steady-state cruising (and coasting) to conserve fuel.

Optional is a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder that puts out 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet.

The big news in the powertrain department, however, is that the Escape is now available as a gasoline-electric hybrid and as plug-in hybrid. The meat of the system is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder and a helper electric motor.

Compared with the previous Escape hybrid from the 2012 model year, the lithium-ion battery pack is one-third the size. The new system puts out a net 200 horsepower, or 221 horses for the plug-in hybrid variant that can travel up to 50 kilometres before the gasoline engine kicks in. Recharging takes up to 11 hours using standard household current, and about 3.5 hours when connected to a 240-volt charge port. The powertrain is linked to a continuously variable transmission.

The hybrids have four modes, including Auto EV that decides whether to run on internal-combustion or electric power, and an EV Charge mode which charges the battery while driving so that electric-only kilometres can be built up for later use.

The hybrid is available in front- and all-wheel-drive, depending on the model selected, but be aware that the plug-in version is front-wheel-drive only. As well, the sliding-rear-seat feature is available only for non-hybrid models.

Pricing for the Escape starts at $30,500 (including destination charges) for the base front-wheel-drive S trim. It arrives with most basic features plus a full suite of active-safety technology curated under Ford’s Co-Pilot360 banner.

The SE gets dual-zone climate control, heated front seats (10-way power-operated for the driver) and push-button start, while the SEL adds premium seat covers, hands-free power liftgate and a backup sensor.

Along with the turbo 2.0 four-cylinder, the top-end Titanium trim comes with all-wheel-drive, leather-trimmed seats and a 10-speaker Bang and Olfusen-brand sound system.

Note that both hybrid models only come in Titanium trims.

If being different (and driving different) from the rest of the pack is important, the new Escape, with its distinctive silhouette and a variety of propulsion choices, is a way to decisively make that statement.

What you should know: 2020 Ford Escape

Type: Front- /all-wheel-drive compact utility vehicle

Engines (h.p.) 1.5-litre DOHC I-3, turbocharged (181); 2.0-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (250); 2.5-litre DOHC I-4 with electric motor (200/221)

Transmissions: Eight-speed automatic; continuously variable (hybrid)

Market position: Compact and midsize utility vehicles make up a growing portion of sales for many automakers. In Ford’s case, it is ceasing production of four-door sedans almost entirely.

Points: Unique design eschews the squared-off shapes embraced by most competitors. • Bigger than before, and lighter. • Both regular hybrid and plug-in hybrid provide greater power and range than previous iterations. • Ford is banking on buyers accepting a less-stout-looking (more car-like) utility vehicle.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); emergency braking (std.); pedestrian detection (std.)

L/100 km (city/hwy): 8.6/7.1 (1.5, FWD); Base price (incl. destination) $30,500

BY COMPARISON

Honda CR-V

Base price: $30,600

One of the roomiest models in its class. Hybrid version is available for 2020.

Toyota RAV4

Base price: $29,900

Fresh and edgy styling, peppy engine, and available as a hybrid.

Mazda CX-5

Base price: $30,000

Recent redesign improves on what was already a solid choice in this class.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Two obvious changes to the interior include a touch-screen that juts out of the dash, and a shift dial for the transmission. Photo: Ford

The only reason to move the rear seat forward — to give up leg room — is to make some extra space for cargo. This feature is not available with the hybrid models. Photo: Ford

Just Posted

Delta McDonald’s temporarily closed after employees test positive for COVID-19

Two employees at the Annacis Island location (1285 Cliveden Ave.) reported testing positive on Sept. 18

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

PHOTOS: One injured in shooting on South Surrey-Langley border

Shots reported near 194 Street and 34 Avenue, burned-out vehicle found in 18100-block of 12 Avenue

Mother-daughter charged in 2017 torched-SUV killing in South Surrey now allowed contact

Judge grants Manjit Kaur Deo permission to connect with Inderdeep Kaur Deo through a lawyer

White Rock acupuncturist suspended for ‘scare tactics, excessive fees’

30-day suspension for Jun Hua (Davy) Hua issued Aug. 18

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read