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JUST FINE: 2020 FORD ESCAPE 2.0T AWD

It is a hard realization that crossovers are the preferred form of transportation. Opting for the lifted, rugged version of a hatchback over a sedan usually comes with an increase in price due to its more convenient high seating position, additional cargo space and even a safer vibe. Ford has caught on to what consumers are after and since sedans are soooo last season, you won’t be finding them in a Ford dealership, unless you’re on the used lot.

Taking all of Ford’s old sedans out of the picture, there has to be a new entry point in the brand and that’s where the Escape comes in.  However, when the Fiesta and Focus originally served as the brands inexpensive admission starting the low teens, the Escape isn’t exactly speaking to those on a budget with a starting price just over $24,000.   

The previous generation Escape carried quite an edgy, chiseled design – this new version on the other hand has ironed out all the edges. We start to see more of Fords old copyright designs with Aston Martin and Volvo in the sheet metal with its elongated, rounded snout and huge headlight housings that look like a sad puppy. Our mid-range SEL model kept most of the styling civilized with 18-inch wheels and halogen headlights – 17-inch wheels come standard on the entry model and options are available to upgrade to 19-inchers and LED headlights.

Inside, we find the same approach as the exterior; Ford took a safer, simpler route when it came to designing its cabin space. The style is fresh and modern with a high-mounted center touch-screen infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and easy to navigate buttons.  Our SEL featured attractive ActiveX faux leather seats over the standard cloth, a hands-free foot activated power tailgate and rear reversing parking sensors with cross-traffic alert. All Escapes even come standard with a host of accident avoidance assistance such as Forward Collison Assist, Lane-Keep Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring. Should you want to take it a step further with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 with Adaptive Cruise Control – that would come as an additional option, of course.

All around, the interior was fine. The trimming was nicely appointed and added an attractive balance; however, as the Escapes starts to trickle towards the thirty-grand territory, its fit and finish starts to fall into a subpar category. The plastics felt cheesy and even though the door panels contained a unique scheme, its hard-plastic material was the quality of something we’d expect out of an entry-level sedan. Even the seats weren’t something we’d prefer, but we may want to chalk that up to our body size that comes with extra stuffing, more than the average person.

Space on the other hand was the Escapes strong suit. The cabin felt airy and open with great outward visibility. The rear seats had plentiful space and can slide back and forth to enlarge rear cargo capacity.

With the available five trim levels come four compelling powertrain options from either two gasoline engines, a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. Its standard 1.5-liter three-cylinder we hear is just a cheerful glee with 181-horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. However, boosting a performance attribute, the Escape features a $2300 option on the SEL and Titanium trims that is worth every penny, its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Producing 250-horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, the Escape becomes a scampering little thug achieving 60-mph in less than six-seconds – leaving a trail of dust for all the other crossovers to eat.

Its 2.0-liter pairs nicely with its standard eight-speed automatic – given the sporty thrill of steering wheel paddle shifters, there is a slight let down due to the hesitation in the shift points and the transmission wanting to do its own thing. You can also have the 2.0-liter any way you want it as long as it comes with all-wheel drive. Featuring multiple drive and off-road modes, there’s even a sand mode should someone decide to abandoned the paved path for an afternoon picnic.  

Beyond its keen performance, the Escapes driving attributes were quite pleasant with a hint of sporty talents. The ride remained competed and composed even over aggressive surfaces. The steering felt well in tuned with a firm application and direct responsiveness. It was even fuel efficient. Despite EPA rating it 22/28/24 (city/highway/combined), we saw a much better return averaging 32-mpg on the highway during our 200-mile testing loop and a total of 28-mpg combined. Going for the 2.0-liter also increases its towing capacity to 3500lbs.

Starting just a hair below $25,000 the Ford Escape isn’t exactly one we’d call cheap, especially given its entry stance into the Ford name. Our mid-range SEL, which starts off at a semi-comparable $29,265 didn’t skimp on the packages adding the $695 Ford Co-Pilot Assist, the $1495 Panoramic Vista Roof and of course the 2.0-liter engine. This put our subject just under $37,000 and given the nature of the competitive market, we can’t help but think about the near top-range Mazda CX-5 turbo for $35,135 or the off-road ready Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk turbo for $33,000.

VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2020 FORD ESCAPE
Trim: SEL ECOBOOST
Base Price: $24,885
Starting Trim Price: $29,265
As Tested: $36,730
Color: DESERT GOLD

PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 2.0-LITER ECOBOOST TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 250-HORSEPOWER / 280 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 22-CITY / 28-HWY / 24-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 28.1-MPG COMBINED / 32.5-MPG HIGHWAY (200 MILE TEST)
Fuel Range: 300 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.0 SECONDS

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