When Ford launched the unique Escape Hybrid again in 2005, it claimed the title of world’s first hybrid SUV. And whereas the gasoline-electric Escape discovered many completely satisfied properties — together with New York’s taxi fleet — it did not final for lengthy. The third-generation Escape debuted with out an electrified choice. However now, that hybrid hiatus is coming to an finish.
The 2020 Ford Escape presents not one, however two hybrid powertrains. Are they value contemplating over the usual, gas-only Escape? I hit the roads of Kentucky to seek out out.
Gentle hybrid now, plug-in hybrid later
Just one Escape Hybrid will likely be obtainable proper at launch. It makes use of a mild-hybrid drivetrain constructed round a 2.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine and an 88-kilowatt electrical motor. Collectively they produce a web system output of 200 horsepower, that may be routed to both the entrance or all 4 wheels by way of a repeatedly variable transmission.
Powering the electrical motor is a liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery pack that Ford says is a few third of the dimensions of the one discovered within the earlier Escape Hybrid. The extra compact dimensions permit engineers to mount it within the flooring under the rear seats, in order to not intrude into the Escape’s 37.5 cubic ft of cargo house. Folding the second row of seats expands that space to a beneficiant 60.Eight cubic ft.
Most significantly, the hybrid powertrain presents actual effectivity features. Official EPA gasoline economic system numbers aren’t finalized but, however some extrapolating is feasible. Ford claims it is focusing on an EPA-estimated driving vary of greater than 550 miles with front-wheel-drive. A gander on the spec sheet reveals the Escape Hybrid carries a 14.2 gallon gasoline tank, which means a freeway gasoline economic system score of roughly 39 miles per gallon is theoretically attainable. That is actually an enchancment over the bottom, 1.5-liter I3 engine’s 33-mpg score.
The Escape Hybrid’s key opponents would be the lately introduced Honda CR-V Hybrid and the already-on-sale Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Within the energy division, each of the Japanese choices outmuscle the Escape, with the Honda making 212 horsepower and the RAV4 making 2019. Honda hasn’t launched gasoline economic system for the CR-V as of this writing, however the RAV4 Hybrid places up some fairly aggressive numbers: 41 mpg metropolis, 38 mpg freeway. The Toyota has barely extra cargo house with the again seats folded down, too.
The second piece of Ford’s two-part Escape Hybrid story will arrive subsequent spring, when a plug-in mannequin joins the lineup. It, too, will use a 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle I4, however will likely be front-wheel drive solely. Ford is aiming for this Escape Hybrid to have no less than 30 miles of all-electric driving vary. Little doubt we’ll study extra in regards to the plug-in as we get nearer to its launch.
Easy, strong and a bit enjoyable
The Escape Hybrid’s drivetrain is properly refined, with near-seamless engine refires when switching between gasoline and electrical energy. For those who aren’t in a rush, you may speed up solely on electrical energy with gentle throttle inputs at low speeds. Ford says you may cruise on electrical energy alone at speeds as much as 85 miles per hour.
Energy itself is sufficient when utilizing the automotive’s default Regular drive mode, however Sport is my most popular setting for its faster giddy-up. The CVT’s simulated gear shifts are fairly snappy, too.
You may have some enjoyable with the 200-horsepower hybrid powertrain.
The Escape Hybrid is surefooted whereas cornering, with a superb experience high quality even on my Titanium tester’s massive, 19-inch wheels and 225/35-series tires. The three,554-pound SUV’s physique roll is saved in verify and the regenerative brakes supply nice modulation talents. The one factor on my want record is extra responsive off-center steering really feel for sharper turn-in response. Even with that quibble, the Escape Hybrid is a dynamically superior machine to the RAV4 Hybrid so far as on-road dynamics are involved.
Like its fuel counterpart, the Escape Hybrid actually excels throughout common commuting. Regular mode supplies lighter steering and the suspension does wonderful work absorbing impacts from ruts. When factoring within the quiet cabin, the Escape is a small SUV that may make a improbable every day driver.
Slick seems, slick tech
Visually, there’s not a lot setting the Escape Hybrid other than the gas-only fashions. Minus a small “Hybrid” badge on the liftgate, the slippery exterior form is similar, with the tapering roofline and so-called “Mustang-inspired” grille. For those who go for the SE Sport Hybrid, you do get a barely stealthier look with black wheels, trim molding and grille accents.
Minus a hybrid badge, the Escape Hybrid seems similar to its full fuel brethren.
The Escape’s cabin carries over, as nicely. Apart from some hybrid-specific readouts within the instrument cluster and middle display, it is all the identical. There’s loads of house in entrance, and the again seats slide fore and aft to raised accommodate taller passengers. The entire automobile’s controls are massive, clearly marked and intuitively positioned. Construct high quality is outstanding, and supplies are on par with each different small crossover out now. The one cabin knock includes the flat entrance seats which are in dire want of beefed-up facet bolsters.
With the mild-hybrid drivetrain coming commonplace on SE Sport Hybrid and Titanium trims, it packs a heavy dose of tech. Sync three quarterbacks infotainment with an Eight-inch touchscreen, that includes a Wi-Fi hotspot for as much as 10 gadgets, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa and Waze integration. Each hybrid Escape additionally will get a 12.Eight-inch digital instrument cluster, whereas the Titanium provides a regular 10-speaker B&O audio system.
For security, ahead collision warning with computerized emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning with lane-keep help, post-collision braking and auto excessive beams are commonplace on the Escape hybrids. Adaptive cruise management with stop-and-go performance, lively parking help and a head-up show are supplied as choices.
The spacious, well-built cabin from the fuel Escape carries over into the hybrid mannequin, too.
A greener Escape
The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid begins at $28,255, not together with $1,195 for vacation spot, for the SE Sport mannequin, whereas the top-of-the-line Titanium begins at $33,400. In each instances, all-wheel-drive tacks on $1,500 to the underside line. Pricing for the upcoming plug-in hybrid mannequin has but to be introduced.
The Escape faces robust competitors from the aforementioned Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, however with its refined powertrain, nice driving dynamics and big loadout of tech, it is nicely positioned to be a prime contender.
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