The Ford Escape Went Soft To Help Make Room For The Baby Bronco

Ford recently took the wraps off the 2020 Escape and it’s more car-like than ever before.

This isn’t a coincidence as Ford’s global design director, Joel Piaskowski, told Car & Driver this was done on purpose. While you’re probably thinking it has something to do with consumer trends and preferences, Piaskowski suggested there were two primary considerations behind the move.

First and foremost, Ford wanted to reposition the Escape and make it more appealing to sedan and hatchback owners. This isn’t too surprising as the company is gutting its car lineup to focus on more profitable trucks and crossovers.

The ‘softer’ Escape also leaves room for Ford introduce the so-called Baby Bronco. Piaskowski didn’t go into a lot of details, but he confirmed the upcoming model will be about the same size as the Escape. This isn’t too surprising as both vehicles are expected to ride on the same platform.

Given the commonality between the two models, it’s likely they will share powertrains. This means we can expect a 1.5-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder that produces 180 hp (134 kW / 182 PS) and 177 lb-ft (240 Nm) of torque. There should also be a more powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 250 hp (186 kW / 253 PS) and 275 lb-ft (372 Nm) of torque.

Ford has already confirmed they’re going “all-in on hybrids,” so the Baby Bronco will likely be offered with the hybridized 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces an estimated 198 hp (148 kW / 201 PS). It remains unclear if the plug-in hybrid powertrain will carryover, but that seems unlikely as it is only available with front-wheel drive.

While the platform and engines may carryover, the Baby Bronco will have a unique attitude and a boxy design. Previous photos have shown the crossover will also have circular headlights and a contrasting roof. We can also expect a more off-road focused suspension and meatier tires.

Ford hasn’t said when the Baby Bronco will be launched, but previous reports have indicated the model will arrive in mid-2020.

more photos...
  • .. EL CHAPO THA GREAT 🤴🏻

    The new Escape is a copy ripoff from Macan and Toyota RAV4. Ford products are getting ugly and more womanish than before.

    • Finkployd

      wow I don’t see that at all – I see a Focus on stilettos at best

      • .. EL CHAPO THA GREAT 🤴🏻

        Nah it looks more like a macan and new rav4

    • Stephen G

      “womanish”?

      • .. EL CHAPO THA GREAT 🤴🏻

        Yes

    • ErnieB

      As a feminist man I am triggered by the “womanish” comment.. lol

      • .. EL CHAPO THA GREAT 🤴🏻

        COOL

  • ME

    Hopefully, the slightly sleeker Kuga design elements make there way more basic looking Escape. However, I’m more excited about the Bronco and smaller variant.

  • Ben

    Its funny Ford decided to make the Escape jellybean like when it seems like large automakers are trying to butch up their SUV offerings. Toyota flat out said it in their press release for the new RAV4 that they wanted to recapture the male demographic they lost when they made the last RAV4 design. Honda did the same when they made majority of their vehicles more angular instead of that riverbed-pebble look past Civics and CR-Vs had.

    I think majority of people want an SUV (regardless if its a true SUV) to look the part and look capable. We still see SUVs that have boxy shapes still performing extremely well, such as the 4Runner. That vehicle design was released in 2010 and has picked up more sales almost every single year until present day. That says something. Save the smooth lines for cars (Miata, E-Type, etc) and boxy for SUVs (4Runner, H2, Wrangler, G-Class, etc).

    • Rocket

      “Save the smooth for cars”? What cars? Having a more car-like offering to appeal to the former Fusion and Focus buyers is their best opportunity to salvage those customers.

      • Ben

        On the surface of it, I understand where you are coming from. A rounded SUV would make car buyers feel more comfortable buying an SUV…because its rounded like a sedan.

        But if we look at the inverse of that logic it says to steal back customers from SUVs, sedans need to be boxy? I dunno about that. Even “liftback” sedans (god I hate that word) aren’t “salvaging” buyers once stolen by SUVs.

        • Rocket

          They have to try, right? A Focus owner is far more likely to move into the new Escape “lifted hatchback” than a boxy off-road styled crossover. Those Blue Oval fans with the means also have the option of the Corsair, which is also softer, but in a much different way.

          • Ben

            But that raises the question, are Focus owners attracted towards Jellybean shape vehicles or small compact vehicles. I think its the later. Every time, and I mean every time, a Suzuki Jimny is shown to American readers the comment section goes green with envy.

            Now in Ford’s case, making a Jimny type vehicle with the new Bronco coming out isn’t the wisest idea, but my point is sub compact SUVs can be hugely popular.

          • MarketAndChurch

            It goes green with envy because we Americans don’t remember the last time we were given a really affordable, small, 4wd boxy off-roader, with a few modern comforts, and decent powertrain and efficient engines. There is a market demand for this.

            That being said, it might be a difficult to package and sell; if it is too affordable it will be mostly a stripped down vehicle limiting its appeal to most people and not moving enough units to justify building it in the first place, and if it is too expensive from all the extra bells and whistles, well, there are far better ways to spend 30,000 – 45,000 dollars, and when such a vehicle like the Suzuki Jimmy starts competing with a $30,000 Wrangler, it will almost always lose.

            I think a 2dr Bronco or Wrangler is small enough for most US buyers, while also being big enough to sell to the wider general market.

          • Ben

            The last boxy affordable SUV that could be had in America was likely the XJ. People still love those things and I think its proof if Wrangler had some outside competition, things would get heated quickly. Boxy sells no matter the decade or price. Sure, they may not be the VERY best selling vehicle, but they’re a constant source and nobody wants to pass that up.

            When you think about the “Hall of Fame” SUVs, they’re nearly all boxy: 4Runners, Cherokee(XJ), Defenders, Rang Rover, G-Wagon, Samurai, Jimny, Bronco, Blazer, Scout II, Tahoe (92′-00), Wagoneer, Land Cruiser, Element, LR3, H2, FJ Cruiser, Wrangler, Soul, XC90, patrol, Pajero, H1, etc.

            There are a few legendary SUV models that aren’t boxy, but even those are trying to hide their curves such as CRV and RAV4.

    • MarketAndChurch

      That’s kind of the point of the article you’re responding to, that Ford made the Escape more car-like so that it would make room for the Baby Bronco, which is more of a traditional SUV-looking vehicle.

      The 4runner is a dated, overpriced SUV. I love the 4runner but please don’t use that as an example of what people want, because the number one selling midsize SUV is a car-based Ford Explorer and that sells twice as much as the overpriced 4runner. The 2018 Rav4, the number one selling small SUV and number one selling SUV in general in the US last year is far from a masculine, boxy off-roader, and it outsells the 4runner by almost 3.5 times.

      • Ben

        The 4Runner spent money on crawl control, thicker frame, ground clearance, locking diffs and such. Ford spent money on ambient lighting, great technology, wireless charging pads, etc. Its pretty obvious which vehicle would sell more. They truthfully don’t compete with each other. They just happen to be in the same segment. If you’re looking for sporting capability, you’re not going to get the Explorer and you’re not going to find the latest car tech in the 4Runner. More people want tangible stuff to fiddle with which is why the explorer sells more (IMO).

        However, the 4Runner has seen an increase in sales nearly every year this current model released…nine years ago. People still want boxy and that’s very apparent in the resale values. Off the top of my head, I believe the Wrangler and 4Runner lead resale values for SUVs. So I do agree that the numbers suggest up front people want the Explorer, but resale values say people value the 4Runner and other boxy SUVs more.

        Lastly, the RAV4 sold like hotcakes last year, but looking at the analytics Toyota obviously feels that there’s more to improve. Maybe they’re trying to make the new model look like 4Runner-lite, which many auto critics said too. We can’t compare the sales figures between a sub compact SUV with a large body on frame SUV either. I highly doubt people cross shop the two together.

  • Enoch Gabriel Gonzales

    That’s complete BS

  • Toronado_II

    Same platform, same powertrain… and their own personality (say the marketing guy).

  • Emoto

    The new Escape styling is bland beyond belief. I almost fall into narcolepsy just looking at it. The baby bronco might be fun.

  • Mr. EP9

    More like it went ugly.

  • The-Fez

    Right because the previous one was super rugged looking…

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