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Recently Driven

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

By: Ron Corbett, APA Staff Writer     

Photos by: John Raymond  

While hardly original, the new Escape is both attractive and contemporary

Introduced for the 2001 model year, the Escape was rebodied in 2008 on the original platform, totally renewed for 2013 and again this year.

The first Escape hybrid power was introduced for the 2005 model year, continued for the 2008 update, skipped the 2013-2019 generation and returned for 2020. 

Hybrid power returns to the Escape for 2020  

Model mix
The conventional Escape is offered with two turbo engines, a 1.5L triple and a 2L four. Power reaches the front, or all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Ford markets two versions of the hybrid, the conventional model tested, as well as a plug-in hybrid version (PHEV). The hybrid system combines an 88 kW electric motor with an Atkinson Cycle 2.5L gas engine for a total system output of 198 horsepower. Power reaches the front wheels, or optionally all wheels, via an electronic continuously variable transmission.

The conventional Escape hybrid is currently offered only in the super-premium Titanium trim.

Vehicle tested   2020 Ford Escape hybrid Titanium all-wheel drive
Body style  Four-door crossover
Engine  2.5L four and 88 kW electric motor (198 combined system horsepower)
Tranmission  Electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT)
Base MSRP  $38,149
Price as tested $41,340 (includes Titanium Plus package, Star White metallic paint, cargo mat and floor liners
Observed fuel economy  6.2L/100 km

While roughly the same length and height as it predecessor, the new Escape is 157 mm (6.2 inches) wider for 2020. Styling swapped the hard edge boxiness of the previous Escape for rounded forms that give more than a nod to design vocabulary used by Porsche on its crossovers. While hardly original, the Escape is very attractive.

Transister film technology (TFT) gauge screen is multi-configurable. Driver's found the EcoCoach helped them to drive more economically

The cabin is a very conservative design and very much in the current Ford styling idiom. Titanium trim drivers face a configurable transistor film technology (TFT) gauge cluster. A large info-screen dominates the top centre of the dashboard and the straightforward climate and audio controls are arrayed below it. A rotary dial gear selector replaces the traditional mechanical one used previously. Cabin materials are quite attractive except for the faux wood trim, which is not to all tastes. Despite just a marginally longer wheelbase than before, rear seat legroom is much enhanced and the greater width of the new Escape not only heightens the sense of spaciousness it makes carrying a third passenger in the rear seat a more realistic proposition than it was previously The rear seat itself is more generously padded and of greater dimension than it was on the last Escape.

The cargo area is big, square and deep below the window line. 


Stylish, modern cabin of the new Escape 

Bottle holders are incorporated within the door bins  

Comfortable seat allies with ample legroom to welcome rear seat riders 


Cargo space is long, wide and deep below the window line 

The 2.5L gasoline engine and electric motor produce 198 total system horsepower 

Driven gently, the Escape hybrid will slowly gain velocity and maintain a steady speed of up to 136 kilometres in electric mode. When quicker acceleration is required, the gasoline engine spins to life to deliver the required urge. The transition from electric power to gasoline engine operation is noticeable and may put off some Escape hybrid intenders.

The electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT) just gets its job done without fuss or the “rubber band” effect some CVTs can exhibit.

The regenerative braking system returns energy to the hybrid battery pack but can feel grabby in day-to-day driving. The Escape’s brake hold feature will keep the vehicle stationary, which eases driving effort in heavy traffic, but the gas pedal requires too big a push to overcome the brake hold device when traffic starts moving again.

The Escape’s steering is light, but precise, and holds its line well on the highway.

The Escape rides well but has a tendency to float slightly at highway speeds. The floating is no detriment to handling, which is precise and exhibits very little lean.

Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system works very well and the Bang & Olufsen audio system delivers a sonically immersive experience with both deep lows and crisp highs.

The conventional Escape hybrid is only sold in the range-topping Titanium trim. Pricing for the Titanium all-wheel drive hybrid begins at $38,149, but our vehicle was also equipped with the $2350 Titanium Plus package that adds a head-up display system and a dual-panel glass sunroof, Star White metallic Tri-Coat paint at $550, as well as winter floor mats and a cargo mat at $150 each. Buyers not needing all-wheel drive can opt for front-wheel drive and save $1500. Interestingly, the Titanium Hybrid all-wheel drive is priced $2000 less than the conventional version of the Titanium but doesn’t seem to lack anything other than the super-powerful 250 horsepower 2L turbo four. The PHEV version of the all-wheel drive Titanium is priced $7000 more that the conventional Titanium hybrid but is eligible for a taxpayer subsidies of $4000 from Quebec and $1500 from B.C., to which the $2500 Federal Government subsidy of $2500 can be added. These subsidies will all but eliminate the price gap in Quebec and will reduce the gap in B.C. to $3000. The Federal subsidy will reduce the price difference between the conventional and PHEV Escape hybrids to $4500.

The Escape Hybrid is an exceptionally good lease value for 2020.

The previous-generation Escape, launched in 2013, had a tortured birth with numerous teething troubles, including engine failures. The vehicle did improve over the years and has exhibited at least average reliability beginning around 2016. The previous Ford Escape hybrids, the C-Max and Fusion hybrids were all reliable. The Ford Escape Hybrid carries a three year, 60,000 kilometre basic warranty, five years/100,000 kilometres on the powertrain and eight years/160,000 kilometres on the hybrid componentry.

The rexhaust pipes are neatly incorporated into the reay styling of the new Escape 

While hardly original, the styling of the new Escape is both attractive and contemporary. In addition, its greater dimensions and better space efficiency have carved out very good space for four or five occupants and good cargo capacity as well.

Except for grabby brakes (related to their regenerative feature) and some suspension float at highway speeds, the new-generation Escape maintains much of the on-road dynamics that were appreciated by drivers of the previous Escape.

Ford abandoned hybrid power for the last Escape in favour of the much smaller C-Max, which proved to be a sales failure. Ford moves the hybrid power system back to the popular crossover vehicle format for 2020 which should bring Ford a larger potential buyer pool than the C-Max ever could. With Toyota’s inability to supply nearly enough RAV4 hybrids to meet demand and the long-rumoured Honda CR-V hybrid failing to make it to the market in Canada, Ford is certainly launching the Escape hybrid under favourable conditions.