- The Escape SE Sport Hybrid is a bargain at $29,460.
- 40 mpg is easily attainable, and the Escape makes it fun to monitor energy usage.
- Sure there’s cost cutting, but we’ll take some cheap materials and road noise for this price.
Ford has a lot riding on the newly redesigned Escape. Behind the F-Series full-size trucks, the Escape is Ford’s best selling model, but sales figures have been slipping over the last few years. Meanwhile, sales for competitors like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Chevy Equinox have only gotten hotter. Not only does Ford need to keep up with its market competition, it also has fewer other models to rely on for sales. Despite Ford’s decision to stop selling all cars besides the Mustang, the Focus and Fusion together topped Escape sales in 2018. Heck, the Fiesta moved more units in 2019 than it has since 2015! All of this is to say, the sleek new Escape has its work cut out.
Therefore, Ford is holding no punches. It’s coming out swinging with four powertrain options: a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder, a turbo 2.0-liter inline-four, a 2.5-liter inline-four hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid using the same 2.5-liter (on sale in mid 2020). These should satisfy just about every compact-crossover buyer. The base motor starts just under $25,000, the turbo four does 0-60 mph in less than six seconds, and the hybrids both get stellar fuel economy. We’ve been spending time in the SE Sport Hybrid, and as long as you’re not married to the characteristics of a conventional gas powertrain, this might be the Escape to get.
The best part of the Ford Escape hybrid is that it appeals to electric vehicle geeks and environmentalists alike. In place of a conventional tachometer, the Escape hybrid displays real-time power output from the internal-combustion engine and electric motor in kilowatts. Upon coasting or braking, it indicated the rate of power being regenerated into the battery. If you crave more info about the powertrain, there’s a Power Flow screen in the infotainment that displays the state of the engine and electric motor. It even tells you why the engine is running (to drive the wheels, provide heat, charge the battery, etc). You can play around with the various drive modes (normal, eco, sport, slippery, deep snow/sand) to tailor the power delivery to your driving situation. There’s a lot to play with and study, if that’s what you’re into.
But if you couldn’t care less about these details and just want an efficient and affordable compact crossover, the Escape is good for that as well. Just start it up and drive. The speedo features large digital numbers, and you can simplify the gauge cluster with the “Calm Screen.” There’s something to be said for simplicity.
While power is more than adequate for daily driving and emergency situations, the engine drones very differently than most vehicles. The computer is constantly working to keep the engine and electric motor working at optimal levels for fuel efficiency and power, and this often results in the engine making one continuous note. It’s not bad once you’re used to it, it’s just a bit jarring if you care about how a car sounds.
What else do you need to know about the Escape? It drives well, it has modern features and amenities, and it’s comfortable for four adults and some cargo. We wish it were quieter on the highway (we thought a rear window was open when we first got up to 70 mph), and the exterior styling isn’t universally loved. Safety ratings haven’t yet been released, so be sure to check for those before buying, but many important safety features come standard.
The elephant in the room is competition from Toyota in the RAV4 Hybrid. The Toyota feels more solid and will likely be more reliable, but the Escape feels more more agile and at home on city streets or twisty corners. Prices are virtually equal, although your experience may vary when you’re actually on a dealer lot. If you’re looking for a modern and capable crossover that gets great fuel economy to boot, you owe it to yourself to check out the Ford Escape hybrid.