Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The completely redesigned 2020 Ford Escape drops 200 pounds and gains second-row passenger space. A retuned suspension that gives the Escape a smooth and comfortable ride adds to its appeal. Ford’s suite of driver’s assistance features comes standard across all trims. Four engine options, including a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, offer buyers a variety of solid powertrains. Exterior design language takes on a performance crossover spin but tends to the generic side, and a simple, economical interior full of tech pleases without fuss.
You'll Like The 2020 Ford Escape If...
Completely redesigned compact SUV with four powertrain options including Hybrid and PHEV modelsSliding second-row seats with expanded passenger and cargo roomAll-new suspension delivering excellent ride qualityFord Co-Pilot360 standard
You May Not Like The 2020 Ford Escape If...
Generic exterior design languageSteering lacks feelingNo sport or ST option
Ford’s Co-Pilot360 driver-assistance package now standardThe Escape Hybrid returnsNew architecture reduces weight by approximately 200 poundsSecond-row sliding seats
The 2020 Ford Escape gets both longer and wider, affording more cargo and passenger space inside. There’s enough room in the back for four bags of golf clubs. The center stack design keeps things simple and intuitive, with a nice balance of touchscreen and physical buttons. An eight-inch touchscreen on the SE trim and above plays the starring roll here. Interior materials err on the cheap side, however, including lots of hollow plastic and questionable-looking faux wood grains. Seats are comfortable and visibility is excellent, if a bit hampered by large C-pillars. The rotary shifter is greatly improved over the previous generation’s shifter, and there’s now a rear center armrest in the base S model.
For 2020 the Ford Escape sees a major redesign, so much so that it might be unrecognizable to some buyers. The front fascia imitates some European sports-crossover styling and the blue oval’s own Focus. Instead of making it unique, it appears more aerodynamic, but also parrots a lot of competitors. The grille drops significantly with new slanted and slightly squinted headlamps extending from the top corners. The body takes on a curvier and more athletic shape to help with fuel economy, especially in the hybrid iterations. Even the roof racks are low profile to cut wind resistance. The Escape’s stance gets lower and wider with the crossovers revised dimensions.
The 2020 Ford Escape comes with four engine options, including a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine making 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter good for 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain delivering 200 horsepower total, and a plug-in hybrid coming in the spring with a projected pure electric range of 30 miles. Power in the 2.0-liter EcoBoost feels good. The engine’s got great pep, it’s a feisty little thing. The hybrid mates to a CVT, but the EcoBoost gets a new 8-speed automatic transmission that pairs really nicely with the 2-liter. Shifts are smooth, well-measured and more importantly it doesn’t have trouble finding the right gear. If you are looking for a little quicker response, paddle shifters come with the 2.0-liter engine. The 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine, on the other hand, lacks that zest and energy. The weight reduction helps it over the previous generation, but you can still feel this engine working overtime. The electric power-assisted steering in any engine option feels effortless if a bit dead at center. However, the weight is decent and it’s quite precise. Pick your poison with drive mode options on the Escape, there are five of them. Normal and Eco modes feel subdued but still dynamic, and Sport livens up the throttle response a bit. There are also modes for slippery, snow and sand, even with the front-wheel-drive Escape. All-wheel drive is an option for those looking for improved grip from all four corners. The suspension on the Escape is all new, including vibration-absorbing rear subframe mounts for a more comfortable ride. The Escape absolutely succeeds here. It’s wider and lower than the previous gen so doesn’t feel top heavy, especially around corners. With that 200 pounds gone, acceleration is quicker and the SUV feels nimbler. It’s got refined shocks, springs and bushings and feels comfortable overall without being floaty or sloppy. The ride is surprisingly good, we’d even venture to say it’s punching above its class.
Base price on the 2020 Ford Escape S model starts at $24,885, only a $780 increase over the previous model year, while offering much more in the way of options including Ford Co-Pilot360 and selectable drive modes not offered on the 2019. The top of the line Titanium trim, with the hybrid engine will cost closer to $33,400. That’s still only a $780 increase over the 2019 Titanium trim model. The Ford Escape is a lot of ute for the money.
Standard features include a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine mated to an excellent 8-speed transmission. The powertrain features fives selectable drive modes for conditions such as slippery and deep snow and sand. Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assist features, a second-row sliding seat, LED tail lights, two smart USB charge ports and Wi-Fi hot spot all come on the base S trim.
Climb up the trim ladder and get extras such as a power liftgate, panoramic sunroof, navigation, adaptive cruise control with stop and go as well as parking assist. Leather seats, a B&O premium sound system, chrome exhaust tips, USB charging ports (A- and C-types), a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, as well as leather-trimmed sport contoured bucket seats are also included.
SECOND-ROW SLIDING SEATSCompact SUVs aren’t known for their capacious interiors. The all-new 2020 Ford Escape combats that issue with a sliding seat that gives second-row passengers added legroom. With the recline function and supportive seat cushions, the Escape becomes a great road trip crossover.CO-PILOT360Fords suite of safety and driver assist features comes standard across all trims and includes post-collision braking, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist. Available features include parking assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go and lane-centering, and an evasive-steering assist.
Under the Hood
On the S, SE and SEL trims, a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine comes standard and produces 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. This engine still feels a bit lackluster, though losing weight in the car overall helps it. We wish it felt more energetic and livelier. The 1.5L features a cylinder deactivation system which automatically shuts down one cylinder when cruising to conserve fuel, so that’s an upside here.The SE Sport trim comes standard with the 2.5-liter hybrid set up. With 200 horsepower this engine is a great re-entry for the Escape into the hybrid space. Power never feels lacking, though we would have preferred paddle shifters on this option, especially since this is being touted as a Sport trim. Our favorite engine tested was the 2.0-liter EcoBoost. This little hustler never disappointed nor lacked personality. Its 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque hungrily gobbled up the road with little perceived effort. Available on the SEL and Titanium trims, this is the engine beat.1.5-liter EcoBoost inline-3181 horsepower190 lb-ft of torqueEPA city/highway combined fuel economy: 30 mpg (FWD), 28 mpg (AWD)2.0-liter EcoBoost inline-4250 horsepower280 lb-ft of torqueEPA city/highway combined fuel economy: 26 mpg (AWD)2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle hybrid200 horsepower
The completely redesigned 2020 Ford Escape drops 200 pounds and gains second-row passenger space, making it best-in-class for the segment. A completely retuned suspension that gives the Escape a smooth and comfortable ride adds to its appeal. Co-Pilot360, Ford’s suite of driver’s assistance features now comes standard across all trims. Four engine options, including a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, offer buyers a variety of solid powertrains. Exterior design language takes on a performance crossover spin with a sloping roof line and reimagined front fascia, but tends to the generic side, and a simple, economical, but intuitive interior full of tech pleases without fuss.