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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Ford dealerships will be adding Bronco showrooms to their portfolio in the coming year.

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

Reporting by Automotive News reveals that Ford is enabling its dealership network to opt-in to build Bronco-specific showrooms. The stores are designed to be near or connected to existing Ford dealer locations, but will feature the Bronco horse logo rather than the traditional Ford Blue Oval.

Ford currently has two Bronco models: Bronco and Bronco Sport. All this for two models? Not quite. Ford is reportedly working on a Bronco-based pickup truck. Could it be Ranger Raptor-like? We'll have to wait and see.

Renderings of Bronco storefronts feature those models and vintage versions of the beloved off-roader alongside 3,800 square feet of building space that includes an outdoor fire pit and room to display three vehicles. There's also a wall that showcases Bronco merchandise including some of the over 200 accessories Ford is promising will be available for Bronco models.

Ford Bronco standalone showroom renderings

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

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The overall aesthetic is very much in line with what you'll see at your local REI. There's back-painted ceiling lining, exposed concrete, a gray stone entryway, and wood accents throughout the modern structure as well as plenty of windows that show it all off.

Dealers are able to modify the design that Ford has come up with. One dealer, in Arizona, told Automotive News that he is planning to build out a 12,000-square-foot space but hasn't included a fire pit in the plans because of the location's desert climate.

If dealerships don't opt for a separate showroom, dealerships can choose from other Ford-backed options to display the Bronco that are more traditional in nature. Andrew Frick, the head of Ford sales in the U.S. said that there are three options: a standalone showroom, an expansion of existing showrooms or displays that can be added to a showroom. All the options are available and recommended, but not required, kind of like the Sasquatch Package on the Bronco itself.

"It's an announcement to the world we're back; the Bronco is back," Tim Hovik, owner of San Tan Ford in Gilbert, Ariz., and chairman of Ford's national dealer council, told Automotive News. "It's such an iconic product that in an absolute way, we feel a Ford dealer is really adding almost an additional franchise."

Last month, Ford revealed that of its 190,000 reservations for either the two- or four-door Bronco, two-thirds of those have turned into firm orders. Deliveries of the redesigned Bronco are slated to begin in June. Early models are already making their way out onto the streets under the car of Ford employees.

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The Hyundai Santa Cruz will debut next week but ahead of that, the design department is giving a closer look at the truck in a new video.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

We'll see the Hyundai Santa Cruz in full for the first time when it debuts on April 15 but ahead of time, Hyundai is setting the stage for expectations with the model. To help with that, the company released a video today featuring the truck's design manager discussing the inspiration for the utility vehicle.

The quick one-minute video is hosted by Brad Arnold, design manager at Hyundai North America. The Southern California native is the leader of the team that created the Santa Cruz, a project that began years ago. He's joined in the video by Senon Franco, the lead designer at Hyundai North America.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America
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As Arnold explains in the video, the design of the Santa Cruz started with a simple premise: "this is not a typical truck". Based on how Arnold describes the capabilities of the truck, that sounds true. It is meant to "thrive in dense urban environments and the open outdoors". One could argue that no full-size truck on the market today does that. Neither do most of the midsize models, though their sizing is better for that landscape.

Arnold says that the Santa Cruz is "small in size", a call that serves to remind viewers that the Santa Cruz isn't a big truck. It's more similar in size to the forthcoming Ford Maverick, a small truck that slots below the Ranger in Ford's lineup.

However, the company isn't even calling it a truck. The new model is being referred to as the Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle. This sounds a lot like how Kia is referring to the new generation of its Carnival minivan as a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).

Arnold says that the design is meant to make the Santa Cruz not look like a truck. Rather, it's supposed to look "like a Santa Cruz". Part of that includes the front end, which looks like a carryover from the fascia of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson.

Among the other secrets Hyundai is giving away ahead of the product's reveal is that there will be more than one "efficient" powertrain, a flexible bed, "cutting-edge" connectivity, and all-wheel drive.

Watch the video for yourself below.

Design Inspiration | 2022 Santa Cruz | Hyundai www.youtube.com

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