Last week Ford Motor Company seized an opportunity to immerse a handful of Automotive Journalists in a bit of Americana for the unveiling of an all-new, fourth generation Ford Escape. We were greeted by a display of previous iterations of the Escape at the Greenfield Village, deep inside the Henry Ford Museum compound. Breakfast and a short briefing from the communications team lead us outside to precarious looking weather, and onto a bandstand facing a cloaked product. This is where we would have secretly loved to see Ford unveil the new Bronco, but no such luck. The presentation begins with a few opening remarks and some live entertainment, then the show hits the road, literally. The bandstand moves, I’m rolling backward and the vehicle under cover follows.
A revamped 1.5L EcoBoost 3cyl will be the entry point for the Escape offering 180hp/177lb of torque. Yes, you read that correctly, a three cylinder. Power is delivered through an 8-speed automatic and front, or available all-wheel drive.
A new 2.0L EcoBoost 4cyl takes the stage to produce 250hp and 275lb/ft, albeit on 93 Octane. This configuration allows for a max towing capacity of 3,500lbs. The 8-speed auto is used in this application and includes shift paddles and standard all-wheel drive.
The hybrid is back! A 2.5L Atkinson Cycle 4cyl paired with a new hybrid propulsion system allows for travel up to 85mph in electric-only mode and has a combined system output of 198hp. We see a CVT used here, and all-wheel drive is available.
But wait there’s more! A plug-in hybrid model shows itself at the exact same time. We see the 2.5L 4cyl here again, but only with front-wheel drive available. Ford aims for a best-in-class 30 miles of electric-only range, but the PHEV does notably reduce the fuel tank, 3.2 US Gallons less than the FHEV to be exact. The AC charge port is located on the drivers front fender, no DC Fast-Charge solution was mentioned.
The engineering department at Ford Motor Company finally gave us what we’re looking for in a PHEV. We now have a reasonable range, a platform that allows for “normal automobile” levels of functionality, and an EV drive mode that allows the vehicle to self-charge in preparation for conditions ahead. The other EV drive modes we’ve seen before: Auto, an EV-Now which forces a battery only experience until it can no longer sustain it, and EV-Later has the ability to save what capacity is left for when the need arises. I’m once again going to mention my concern that there is no DC fast charging option on the PHEV variant.
The all-new Escape also now includes Co-Pilot 360 as standard, the latest safety suite from Ford Motor Company. Adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, and lane centering are available. Evasive Steering Assist and Active Park Assist 2.0 also join active safety and creature comfort offerings. The Evasive Steering Assist program helps provide aid the intended maneuver of the driver, rather than the driver relinquishing control of the vehicle. City parking be damned with, Active Park Assist 2.0, parallel or perpendicular spaces can be navigated by simply holding a button during the maneuver.
A new platform and the way it packages its content allows for more allowable space for its occupants, and cargo. The liquid cooled lithium-ion batteries in the hybrid variants are tucked away neatly beneath the rear seats, which both slide and recline. The image below shows four full-sized pieces of luggage while the rear seats are positioned all the way back in their tracks.
We did confirm that North American market production will remain in the current Escape facility in Louisville, KY.
Although this new 2020 Escape is just marginally larger than the outgoing model, the strategic use of lighter high strength materials allows for a more efficient, more dynamic and more comfortable set of wheels. Expect to see the Escape gasoline and hybrid in the Fall of 2019, with the plug-in hybrid arriving Spring 2020. Expect a full review later this year, we’re hoping for a hybrid!