One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2020 Ford Escape is a formidable fresh take

The redesigned Ford Escape is fresh from the ground up.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Drive up and down the roads of America's heartland and you'll find the Ford Escape in driveways near and far. The vehicle, now in its fourth generation, is beloved for its cargo capacity and agility, making it one of the top choices for American families when they buy.

The 2020 Ford Escape is a compact SUV that fits into the Ford family above the EcoSport and below the Edge, Explorer, and Expedition. This new model is designed for a global audience. Ford sells the 2020 Escape in S, SE, SEL, SE Sport, and Titanium trim levels in North America.

At the front, it's easy to see the similarities between the Porsche Macan, Kia Sportage, and Ford Escape. Moving along the sides to the rear, the Escape gets much more distinctive and sports a grown-up tail end that isn't unattractive to follow in traffic.

2020 Ford Escape The Ford Escape has evolved for the 2020 model year and sports a completely new exterior design.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Escape will eventually be available in four different power options but the model will only be sold in three when it launches. Its base engine is a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder (S, SE, SEL) that achieves 180 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. It's a great power plant for in-town driving but if you crave quick ascents up highway onramps, you'll want to upgrade.

The available 2.0-liter EcoBoost (SEL, Titanium) four-cylinder is significant peppier getting 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This engine is the engine to get if you plan on towing (it can handle up to 3,500 pounds) or have kids and gear to haul around, this is the power plant you'll want.

Both of those engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

2020 Ford Escape The 2020 Ford Escape comes in five trim levels: S, SE, SEL, SE Sport Hybrid, and Titanium.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Escape Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder, which is paired with an electronic continuously variable transmission. Overall, it is the best engine for everyday driving situations, blending fuel efficiency and power with the Escape's natural passenger and cargo capacities. This engine is smoothest off the line and the added weight of the hybrid powertrain helps the Escape feel more stable on the road.

When the Escape falters most is in its cabin where materials are not up to snuff compared to what you'll find in most freshly redesigned compact SUVs, or even the ageing Nissan Rogue. Ford has done an excellent job repositioning the equipment in the center console and center stack allowing for a more spacious feel for front row occupants.

Like in the 2020 Ford Explorer, the Escape has a disappointing infotainment touch screen. While it looks good, the screen is slow to respond, has navigational woes, and doesn't pinch-to-zoom as easily as it should. This is the most disappointing part of the Escape.

2020 Ford Escape Ford's infotainment system leaves a lot to be desired. It's not always responsive to the touch and its navigation often leads you off the right path.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Each new Escape comes with a bevvy of standard safety technology dubbed Ford Co-Pilot360. The suite of driver assistance features includes automatic high beams, blind spot alert, lane keeping assist, a rearview camera, post-collision braking, hill start assist, and pre-collision assist with emergency braking.

The 2020 Ford Escape starts at $24,885 and tops out over $40,000. The 2020 Escape Hybrid starts at $28,255 for the SE Sport Hybrid grade.

The 2020 Ford Escape arrives on a dealership lot near you soon.

Customers can use the FordPass app to locate a charging station near them or their destination.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is building out its electric charging network ahead of the debut of its Mustang-inspired all-electric crossover. As part of the plan, Ford is offering customers access to 12,000 stations and 35,000 plugs, the most available access of any automaker.

This announcement comes on the heels of new that Ford will make FordPass remote features complementary.

FordPass users will be able to utilize the FordPass app to find an available Ford Connected Charge Station. The stations include those with DC fast charging capability. The 48-amp Ford Connected Charge Station can fully power a vehicle overnight while the owners sleeps, adding around 32 miles of range per charging hour to the battery.

Ford Charging home plug outlet mounted Ford is partnering with Amazon to install home charging networks for customers.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

"Among people who already own or want to purchase electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, 48 percent say that a lack of charging stations is one of their main concerns," said Ted Cannis, Ford director of global electrification. "By offering industry-leading charging access we are dismantling those barriers, allowing more customers to confidently enjoy the benefits of owning an electric vehicle."

Ford is working with Greenlots, a Shell Group company, to bring together multiple charging providers to develop the network. Drivers will be able to identify charging stations and pay for charging through their vehicle's infotainment screen.

Every new Ford EV will come with a Ford Mobile Charger that can be used on Level 2 (240-volt) outlets and add 22 miles per charging hour to the vehicle. Using as standard Level 1 (120-volt) plug, buyers add an average of three miles per charging hour.

Ford has partnered with Amazon Home Services to offer home installation. When customers choose the Ford Connected Charge Station option, they will be able to see upfront pricing estimates and schedule a licensed and vetted electrician online.

Ford is giving EV buying customers two years of complimentary FordPass Charging Network access.

The FordPass app also allows customers to set charging schedules and alerts at home, and pre-condition their vehicle before they drive. FordPass Power My Trip helps drivers plan their route based on charge needs and charging points.

The FordPass app is currently available in the Google Play and Apple stores.

We don't know what the Ford Bronco (officially) looks like yet, but a source has told AutomotiveMap that an off road racing-ready variant is already planned.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

A well-placed source within the off-road racing community has tipped off AutomotiveMap that Ford is planning to debut a specialized off road racing-ready version of the Bronco shortly after the model debuts next year.

There's some heritage in the Bronco being an off road racer. The first-generation Ford Bronco (1966-1977) is a popular off-roader even today and the internet is full of pictures and stories that tell the tale of championship rides.

Recently revealed patents for the Ford Bronco, first reported by AutoGuide, show numerous model configurations including two- and four-door trucks that could have a bed, with looks similar to the Jeep Gladiator. This style Bronco, with a bed, could compete directly with the Jeep Gladiator and, in racing, with the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

Chevrolet is far ahead of Ford when it comes to their truck racing program. The GM division worked with Hall Racing and suppliers like Multimatic to develop and test Chevrolet Performance parts that can be sold to off-roading enthusiasts. With these modifications Hall Racing has blown past the 100 mph mark on their Colorado ZR2 race truck and given the truck the parts it needs to remain planted when cornering, even at high speed.

1974 Ford Bronco side profile The first generation Ford Bronco, including 1974 models like this, remain popular in the off-roading community.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Chevrolet division recently introduced a desert racing version of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Trail Boss, which the company will test during the Desert Racing Series using a similar process. Expectations are that this testing will lead to a Ford F-150 Raptor-fighter model of the Silverado. Insiders are referring to it as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2.

But what about the Ford Ranger Raptor? The source was quick to point out to AutomotiveMap that the prospective off road racing-ready Ford Bronco model is not the Ford Ranger Raptor. Currently sold only in overseas markets, it is likely that the Ranger Raptor will debut when the next-generation Ranger comes to market in a few years.

Ford has confirmed that the Bronco will share a platform with the next-gen Ranger, and so it would make sense that a Bronco with Ranger Raptor characteristics would be on tap. Ford could easily test the underpinnings of a future off-roading Bronco model while wearing Ranger camouflage.

When approached for comment, Ford responded, "We don't comment on speculation about future products."