Ford’s all-new Escape crossover is meant to be safer, smarter and more versatile than any past iteration. It’s also available with both a standard hybrid and a plug-in hybrid powertrain, to go with various drive modes and driver-assist features.
Every model in the Escape lineup is said to target an EPA-estimated range of at least 400 miles (643 km), with the regular hybrid in FWD spec targeting a best-in-class EPA-estimated range of more than 550 miles (885 km).
“This all-new Escape brings a sleeker, sportier design with the capability to take you on just about any of your life’s adventures,” stated Ford president for North America, Kumar Galhotra. “With our class-leading hybrid powertrains, customers will spend less time at the gas station and more time on the road.”
Just what the segment ordered
The all-new Escape stands lower, wider and is longer than the current iteration, not to mention 200 lbs (90.7 kg) lighter. Its shield-shaped trapezoidal grille is inspired by the 6th-generation Mustang, while the lower front end is said to borrow from the Ford GT, although overall, the crossover reminds us most of the latest Ford Focus hatchback.
According to Ford, the new Escape isn’t just about looking sporty, but also driver enjoyment – the automaker claims this is the most fun-to-drive Escape ever.
“This new vehicle performs like no other Escape before,” said Escape chief program engineer, Jim Hughes. “It’s quick, it’s responsive and, in staying true to the standard set by three generations of Escapes before it, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to drive.”
Opt for the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, available on Titanium grade, and you get 250 HP and 275 lb-ft (372 Nm) of torque, allowing for a 0-60 mph (96 km/h) acceleration time that’s up to 10% faster than in the outgoing model. When properly configured, it can tow 3,500 lbs (1,587 kg). Meanwhile, the all-new 3-cylinder turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost, standard on S, SE and SEL grades is projected to put down 180 HP and 177 lb-ft (240 Nm) of torque, and is rated to tow 2,000 lbs (907 kg). For the sake of fuel efficiency, the 1.5-liter EcoBoost unit can shut down one of its cylinders in just 14 milliseconds.
Then there’s the all-new 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid engine, mated to an electronic continuously variable transmission. The front-wheel drive model is expected to produce a combined system output of 198 HP, while also allowing for a top speed of 85 mph (136 km/h) in EV mode. The plug-in hybrid variant, available on every trim level except S and SE Sport, projects an EPA-estimated range of at least 30 miles (48 km) in EV mode. As for charge times, it takes 10 to 11 hours to fill up the battery at a 110-volt Level 1 charger, while a 240-volt Level 2 charger will drop that time down to 3.5 hours.
Both hybrid models come with the following four EV modes: Auto EV (car decides whether to run on gas or electric), EV Now (driver selects all-electric driving), EV Later (gas-powered driving to conserve juice for later) and the all-new EV Charge mode, where drivers can continue to charge the battery while driving and “generating electric-only miles” for later use.
Clever little thing
The sliding second-row seats in the gas-powered versions give rear-seat passengers of the new Escape class-leading legroom. In fact, Ford executive VP of product development and purchasing Hau Thai-Tang said that you get more leg room in the second row of the new Escape than you do in a full-size Chevy Suburban. In terms of cargo space, you get 37.5 cu.ft (1,061 liters) in gas-powered models, while the regular hybrid’s briefcase-shaped battery measures just one-third the size of the old Escape Hybrid’s battery. The Escape Hybrid by the way still features more headroom, shoulder room and hip room than the current model, despite the slight drop in height.
Finally, let’s talk convenience features. Titanium models come with the all-new heads-up display system, which is a first for Ford in North America. Then there’s the available Active Park Assist 2.0 and Evasive Steering Assist, the Ford Co-Pilot360 (this one is standard), plus other clever tech like Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane Centering.
In terms of connectivity, FordPass Connect is standard across the range and provides occupants with 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 mobile devices. You also get wireless charging, an 8-inch touch screen (standard on SE models and above), an available 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and SYNC3 software with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Ford Alexa and Waze navigation. Last but not least is the available 575-watt 10-speaker B&O sound system.
Ford’s all-new Escape, available in S, SE, SE Sport, SEL and Titanium grades, will be built at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky. While it will reach showrooms this fall in gasoline and regular hybrid guise, the plug-in hybrid version won’t hit the market until next spring.