2020 Ford Escape Review & First Drive — A Small SUV Standout?

2020 Ford Escape Review & First Drive — A Small SUV Standout?

like I start all
my Ford reviews by reminding
you that Ford said it wasn’t
going to build cars anymore.
So even though the 2020 Ford
Escape looks like a car,
it’s not one.
It’s a crossover.
It’s raised up.
Does the Ford Escape
deliver on that promise
to be both the best
of both car and SUV?
We’re in Louisville, Kentucky,
which is the birthplace
of the Ford Escape– really,
it’s built right around
the corner from here–
to find out.

Whether you’re shopping
for a car or an SUV
or an SUV that looks like a car,
we can help you at Edmunds.com.
So the focus of the Ford
Escape– and no, that
wasn’t a Ford pun.
Although it could have been
because the Escape kind of
looks car-like, and it’s
supposed to drive car-like.
So they took weight
out of it, and they
lowered the center of gravity.
It has a lower roof
line than most SUVs.
And all of that is
supposed to make
it more fun to drive on
the road, more appealing
to people who are
coming out of sedans.
One of our complaints
about the previous Escape
was that it didn’t have
a good ride quality.
And it also didn’t get
very good fuel economy.
Now, with the 2020
Escape, they’re
offering four different engine
options, and two of them
are hybrids.
So you can pretty much guarantee
that at least two of them
are going to offer
good fuel economy.
As for ride quality,
have they improved it?
I’d say yes.
It feels light,
and the word nimble
was thrown around a lot
in the press release.
But I’d say it’s applicable.
There are several
different driving modes.
And they do change the
characteristics of the car.
There’s an eco mode, a
normal mode, a sport mode,
and then some snow and
ice slippery modes.
Now, most of the time
what driving modes do
is they adjust how the traction
control works on the car.
They can also affect how quick
the throttle response is.
In performance cars, the modes
also affect the steering feel.
And the Escape has that, too.
However, I didn’t
notice it at first
when I was doing this
test drive because I
had the lane centering on.
Lane centering is one of
those semi-autonomous new
technologies that helps keep the
car in the center of the lines
so that you’re not bouncing
around inside the lane.
I think that stuff
is really great.
But it does affect the
driving feel of the car.
And once I turned that
lane centering off,
I enjoyed driving
this car a lot more.
With it on, I felt
like the steering
was kind of light and twitchy.
And with it off, it has
felt much more dynamic.

If you’re economy
minded, you’ll probably
go with the three
cylinder 1.5 liter.
And if you’re really interested
in the new technologies,
you’ll pick either the
hybrid or the plug-in hybrid.
For those of you who
like a little performance
oomph in your
driving, you’re going
to want to go with the two
liter turbo four cylinder
EcoBoost, which is what
is in this right now,
backed by an 8 speed
automatic transmission.
It makes more than
235 horsepower,
and with 200 pounds of weight
savings in the 2020 Escape,
you can really feel
the difference.

It’s down-right zippy.
If you’ve read up on
the Escape at all,
you might have seen a reference
to high strength steel.
And the reason why
that matters is,
if you have a stronger material,
you can use less of it.
And the way that that
is shown in the Escape
is in how thin these pillars
are like, if they’re smaller,
if they’re thinner, you
can see around them more.
They’re not blocking
as much of your view.
So the visibility is
great in the Escape.
And that’s something that
they really tried to do,
and they did it.
I’m not going to give
them all the props,
though, because there are
two visibility complaints
that I have.
One of which is that the
angle of the windshield
is super reflective of the dash.
And the other is that
this heads up display
that they’ve got going on
here with is kind of janky.
There are definitely
more sophisticated ways
to do it that don’t
involve having
a little piece of sunglass
sticking up in your view
all the time.
Ford does a good job integrating
new technology into their cars.
And the Escape has a
lot of examples of that.
Know it’s got emergency braking.
It even has emergency
evasive steering, which
I am not going to test for you.
But in theory, it would help
me steer around an obstacle
if I was about to hit something.
I don’t know if it’s just
because we’re in the Titanium
and it’s got the
big fancy wheels,
but there is so much
tire noise in here.

When it comes to handling
and breaking in the Escape,
I haven’t really
thought about it
that much on this drive,
which, really, I think
is exactly what you would
want out of a small SUV.
I mean, I didn’t
buy it to go racing.
I bought it to go
commuting with people in it
and be comfortable.
And it’s all of those things.

Ford’s trying something
different with the Escape.
Instead of the
straight lines and kind
of like beefy stance
of a traditional SUV,
sort of smooth and
friendly looking.
In fact, the front
end is downright cute.
I don’t have any
problem with cute cars.
I mean, Volkswagen bug, anybody?
Yeah, they do great.
If you’re not into cute and
you want a tougher looking SUV,
Ford is making
something called the–
what was it?
Oh, yeah, Bronco.
That’s for you.
This Escape is all about
offering you options.
So if it’s cargo
space you need, Ford
has made it pretty easy to
switch from people hauler
to stuff carrier.
There are some
things I really like
about the Escape’s interior.
There’s a lot of space in here.
I never feel cramped.
The seats are comfortable.
I think there’s some nice trim
options like this wood grain
Ford did take some design
risks in the Escape,
which is not something that I
normally associate with Ford.
I usually feel like
its interiors are
very plain and conservative.
But we’ve got a lot of
different materials going here,
different colors.
I like all of that.
There’s this pattern here in the
door which, honestly, kind of
reminds me of cellulite.
But hey, that’s
very body positive.
And I’m down with that.
The base Escape with the 1.5
liter three cylinder starts
around $25,000.
The Titanium here,
with its optional
all wheel drive
and turbo charged
two liter plus other
goodies like leather
trim and this panoramic
sunroof, will set you
back almost $40,000.
So there’s a huge price range
across the different Escape
trim levels.
There are a lot of storage
space for small things up here.
But anyone who’s
ever had a big purse
knows that that can also
be a curse like the storage
in the door is huge.
And it goes all the way back in
the door panel, which basically
just means that you will lose
like 17 pairs of sunglasses
in this car.
There’s some trick
stuff in the console.
The cup holders light
up, which is fancy.
This car doesn’t have it, but
there is a charging pad coming.
That’s going to be good because
currently the standard USB is
all the way over here.
And so then your cord runs
across your whole business.
Really, it’s better guys if you
can charge everything up here
and then tuck the cord away.
But an inductive charging
pad will solve that.
So when that’s an option,
you should get it,
and everything will
be nice and clean.
Ford always does a
good job in laying out
the controls for infotainment
and safety features.
It wasn’t hard to find things.
The stuff that I
wanted to turn off
like the lane centering,
which sucks and I hate it,
I didn’t have to go searching
for very long, and it was easy.
There are actual knobs
for volume and radio
tuning, no problem to set
the temperature however
you want it.
And the air conditioning
is very good,
which has been great during
this extremely hot and humid
adventure in Kentucky.
The Ford Escape is wider and
longer than the previous model.
But unlike most SUV
redesigns, it’s not taller.
It’s actually got
a lower roof line.
So I was a little worried
about whether there
would be enough headroom in
here– not for me, obviously.
I’m like so short– but
for normal sized people.
As it turns out, I think
you could be tall and still
fit in here fine.
Plus, I have plenty
of leg room here.
But if I didn’t, I could fix
it with the sliding rear row.
Not only is the
sliding second row
super fun and giving
you more leg room,
but if you don’t need that, you
can just slide them forward.
And then you have
more cargo room.
So after spending a
day in the Ford Escape,
is it good to go
or see you later?
Hmm, a little bit of both.
There are other small SUVs
is that do luxury better.
Mazda, I’m looking at you.
But there are certainly
a bunch that do it worse.
And I really like the styling.
It stands out.
I like the idea that you
can have a car and an SUV,
have enough space, but not have
like a big monster machine.
It’s going to be
interesting to see
where Ford takes the Escape.
This is a brand
new redesign, and I
think they have big plans
for this little SUV.

49 Replies to “2020 Ford Escape Review & First Drive — A Small SUV Standout?”

  1. For all the options you get with the SE loaded. $30,000 And available hybrid and plugin hybrid. Most rear leg room! Huge storage and crazy fuel economy! Why wouldn’t you get this over the competition

  2. It looks like the target market for this car are the ladies. The design is not at all masculine as the truck-like RAV4 which I prefer better. This is more of an alternative for soccer moms.

  3. Kudos for noting the car-like design of the new Escape. When I first saw it at auto shows I thought, "Ah…So that's what happened to the Focus. They dressed it in an SUV suit." And with the demise of Ford sedans in the US, the Escape has clearly been designated to do double duty. Personally, I think the design is a success, much like a little brother of the Mazda CX-9.

  4. There are going to be those who complain that the Escape's plastic screen HUD is chintzy. And truth be told it is compared to HUD's that project directly on the windshield. But I live in the Pacific Northwest. The spring thaw brings tons of rocks and gravel down from the mountains onto our highways and windshields are an endangered species from bullet-like projectiles thrown from big trucks ahead of a vehicle. Windshields designed for HUD projection are fully polarized and significantly more expensive than non-polarized units. Pay your money and take your choice.

  5. Ford puns? I just want to Focus on how I'm going to Escape my in-laws Fiesta this weekend. I'd rather live life on the Edge and be an Explorer

  6. Much nicer interior as it has a less plastic look. Love having knobs instead of small buttons. Exterior is nice looking as well. The Titanium price is pretty damn high though. Would still opt for the CX-5 for a luxury interior for a non-luxury SUV.

  7. Will you please STOP calling FWD based crossovers fucking SUV's. They're not. Not even a little. They're as sporty and utilitarian as a Pomeranian. Stop it. Now.

  8. Nice review. Seems pricey for the top-trim. Would the Escape SE or Escape SEL be a good substitute for the Titanium or would you pick another small suv?

  9. I’m very into the details of vehicles and could not help but notice they show an Explorer in the lane centering graphic at 7:14. Always cracks me up. I’ve seen other manufacturers use trucks for their graphics in sedans. Not a huge deal, but definitely noteworthy to me.

  10. Right away, I don't like the comment about the tire noise. For that much money, car should be super quiet with almost no road noise. I'll look elsewhere.

  11. It’s going to be a tough choice to pick my next CUV
    RAV4 Hybrid vs Escape Hybrid



  12. $40,000 Escape? Personally, I would rather have a certified pre-owned BMW X3 or a Lexus RX. Now, this is from someone who bought a 1.5 EcoBoost Fusion so not an import fan boy. I did not; however, buy the Turbo V6 AWD Fusion as again that’s good pre-owned BMW or Lexus territory.

  13. You’re a professional car reviewer, and you didn’t think about the handling. I’m no longer interested in your opinions.

  14. Not a standout just like the rest … But will it last and the cost of ownership over years … Is it better than the last one ? Plus they should have put this much effort in the fusion focus and fiesta . I mean it wasn't like they wasn't making a profit off the car they just don't wanna make em smh

  15. I'd like to know how the 1.5 3cylinder runs.
    I don't see choosing a new Ford over a new Toyota as a risk.
    Maybe a different tire would quiet the cabin.
    Glare of dash on my view through the windshield .A deal breaker ?An annoyance added to the daily commute ?

  16. One thing for sure, the car looks lot clean and sharp. The gaps I find in detailing is such a sad state of affairs. The things she pointed out are so basic, are the guys in Ford so oblivious?

  17. After all those years of Mazda being knocked for the little HUD screen, somebody at Ford thought "Yeah, wy don't we go back 5 years in implementation of the HUD tech. and use the little stupid screen." This was the second review I have seen of this car and I can't say that there is anything special about it. Big disappointment, especially after Ford canceled all the cars to put more effort in their SUVs.

  18. The Ford Escape is basically the fusion raised up. The only good thing is the front lights. But it’s ugly and pure laziness on the dash. Like beg we can’t put it in the dash so on top works.

  19. This is an awful review unless you're a 18-35 white female or a metrosexual male. Ford and Edmunds must be collaborating to make me not want to buy it.

  20. The only way I'd buy a Ford is if my life LITERALLY depended on it. And if I did, it WOULD because of Fords' mind bogglingly poor built quality and they're astonishingly horrible practice of purposely selling dangerously defective vehicles!!

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