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.

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New SUV

New Jeep Compass Coming Soon

The Compass gets a major update for 2022.

Stellantis/Jeep

The Chicago Auto Show is happening now, which means we've already seen a few new models and concepts. Just yesterday, Jeep introduced the new 2022 Compass compact SUV. It gets a new design inside and out, updated tech, and a load of new available driver aids. The Compass' refresh comes as new models from Ford, Subaru and others could cut into Jeep's off-road dominance.

As it was in previous model years, the new Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter "Tigershark" four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It's good for up to 31 mpg on the highway in 2WD models and can deliver a max towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds in 4WD models. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard for Compass Sport and Latitude 4X2 models, while all others get a nine-speed automatic transmission that can handle the 20:1 crawl ratio setting in the Trailhawk model.

An all-new Latitude LUX trim joins the Compass lineup for 2022 as well. It features leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a seven-inch full-color gauge cluster, and the larger 10.1-inch screen.


2022 Jeep Compass The new Compass is more upscale than its predecessor.Stellantis/Jeep


The Compass comes with a class-leading 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, but higher trims get an even larger 10.1-inch unit. It offers standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and runs Uconnect 5, a colorful, responsive infotainment system with advanced features and tech.

Several new safety features make an appearance, but most are added-cost options. The highway assist system offers a semi-autonomous driving feature, which Jeep says will become available later. Other tech includes traffic sign recognition, standard pedestrian/cyclist automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera system, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, and a long list of more traditional advanced driver aids like blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.

The Compass lineup for 2022 includes five trims: Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk. Pricing for the new Compass starts at $26,490, including a $1,495 destination charge. At the top of the lineup, the Trailhawk and Limited models both start at $32,890. It's expected to start arriving on dealers' lots in fall 2021.


2022 Jeep Compass New color schemes highlight the Compass' interior.Stellantis/Jeep

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The new Grand Cherokee L is on its way to dealers now.

Stellantis

The all-new three-row Grand Cherokee L was unveiled earlier this year, and features an ultra-premium interior, a load of new tech, and sharp styling that shouts back to Jeep models of the past. Just a few weeks ago, we learned pricing and feature details for the new model, and now Jeep says the vehicle is on its way to dealerships across the country.


Jeep Grand Cherokee L The L is the first three-row Grand Cherokee.Stellantis


In terms of styling, the L's shape has been reworked from previous Grand Cherokee models to be more reminiscent of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The automaker says that the grille has been tilted forward and is now wider for better air flow and a more dramatic appearance. The idea was to make the Grand Cherokee L look rugged, but keep it sleek and technical in the process.

The stretched Grand Cherokee retains the engines that powered its predecessors. That means a 3.6-liter V6 is standard, which delivers 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A 5.7-liter V6 is optional, and makes 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or al-wheel drive. Either powertrain option will provide decent towing capability, but the V8 is unsurprisingly more powerful. With a V6 on board, the Grand Cherokee L can tow 6,200 pounds, while V8-powered models can pull 7,200 pounds.


Jeep Grand Cherokee L The L's styling is modern but nostalgic.Stellantis


Inside, Jeep says the L can be equipped with the latest tech and entertainment features. Running the latest Uconnect infotainment software, the Grand Cherokee L will be capable of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and can be had with a head-up display, a rear-seat monitoring camera system, and a 950-watt 19-speaker McIntosh audio system. At the top end of the lineup, the Summit Reserve model gets Palermo quilted leather, open-pore waxed walnut wood, and 21-inch wheels.

Pricing for the L starts at $38,690 after destination, which buys the base Laredo trim. The range-topping Summit Reserve model starts at $61,690 after destination. Dealer deliveries are underway now, supported by almost 5,000 employees at Stellantis' Detroit Assembly Complex.

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