2020 Ford Escape is a citified slicker SUV
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2020 Ford Escape is a citified slicker SUV

Cars
[BLANK_AUDIO] Compact SUVs are such big business these days that Ford is introducing not just one, but two totally different new Escapes. Okay, so that's not entirely true, this is the 2020 Ford Escape. But it's part of a new two pronged strategy that will see the blue oval split up the segment between this leak crossover scene here and an all new, much more rugged, and traditional looking SUV that rides atop the same platform, and that will be shown later this year. For now, let's stick with the escape side of things and see what's what. The original 2001 Escape was one of the industry's very first crossovers. So unsurprisingly, it looked every inch like a body on frame SUV. That appearance gave way in 2013 to the much more modern design that's still, basically, what's in showrooms today. This new fourth gen Escape is even more aerodynamic and organic looking. It's wider, rides on a longer wheel base, sits lower, and has a more steeply raked windshield and backlight. Yet the company says there's more room inside. It's also gone on a diet, weighing in at about 200 pounds less than before. The new Escape's overall aesthetic definitely skews more toward Mazda CX5 than say Jeep Compass, or even Toyota Rav 4. In fact, if someone told me that this is the lifted crossover version of the new Ford Focus that we were supposed to get before it got cancelled, well, I might have believed them. The design is a little bit soft and car like for my tastes, but I'm guessing that Ford won't have any trouble at all finding hundreds of thousands of customers who will disagree with me. The 2020 Escape is fully modern underneath, offering a pair of new eco boost gas engines and two hybrid trims. The gas only headliner, is this two liter turbo four. And it sounds like a little bit of a hotrod in what is usually a pretty tepid segment. With 250 horsepower, and 275 pound feet of torque, Ford says it'll hit 60 in 7.4 seconds. That's 10% quicker than before, and about a second quicker than most models in this class. The more intriguing engine from a tech standpoint though is even smaller. It's a 1.5 litre turbocharged three cylinder that offers 180 horsepower and 177 pound feet of torque. The most interesting part is that it's capable of running on just two cylinders to save fuel. FORD uses the same tech and its overseas only focus. And it's the first time I'm aware that anyone's ever managed to do this with a car engine. I can't wait to find out if they've managed to make it a smooth runner. You may remember that the original Ford Escape became the world's first hybrid SUV in 2005. So it's only fitting that the blue oval is doubling down on electrification in this new model. Not only is this standard hybrid available, there's also going to be a new plug-in model too. The latter will arrive next spring, using a 2.5 liter for, with 209 horses and 153 pound feet of torque. Ford is targeting an electric only range of 30 plus miles, and a leg crossing total range of 550 miles. There is no just new tech under the hood, Ford knows that today's escape has fallen a little bit behind the curve when it comes to cabin refinement and advanced infotainment and safety gear, so there's a ton of new tech both standard and Optional among the key features, a 12.3 inch all-digital gauge cluster and a head-up display are available. On the safety front, Ford's Co-Pilot 360 ADAS suite is standard. And adaptive cruise with lane centering is optional, as is new evasive steering assist and active park assist 2.0, which is a one-touch hands-off assist system. On the infotainment side of things, there's a standard 4G LTE WiFi hotspot and an 8" touch screen with Sync 3 is optional as is B&O premium audio. USBA, USBC, and wireless charging will all be along for the ride. Most importantly, the new cabin just looks and feels nicer, and the sliding second row seats allow for the prioritizing of people or cargo, including pets. You can even fit a full-size dog crate back there now. In internal discussions, Ford marketers took to calling buyers of this vehicle as confident escapists. While that term strikes me as an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp or maybe college try, I have to say, I'd be happy to escape with this thing out of the studio right now, because I'm really excited to see how it drives. Unfortunately, like you, I've still got a little bit of a wait. The 2020 Escape rolls out of Ford's Kentucky factory gates and into showrooms later this fall.

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