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Old 04-10-2019, 07:17 AM   #1
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Default Ford Preparing Off-Road Version of Its Popular Escape SUV

New model coming six months after Escape debut.

The new 2020 Ford Escape will be getting a new off-road variant cousin. The unnamed ute will show up in about six months.

In what is billed by CEO Jim Hackett as a year of big changes for the automaker, Ford Motor Co. has unveiled both the 2020 Escape and the 2020 Explorer both of which are due for showrooms later this year.

But behind the upcoming show room appearances of the Escape and the Explorer, another introduction is making its way to the launch pad.

Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president of product development and purchasing, said during an interview on the sidelines of the Escape preview last month in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford is also working on an off-road version of its popular sport-utility vehicle.

The new SUV doesnít even have a name yet, Thai-Tang said, but it will be distinct from the Escape. The as yet unnamed ute will have a somewhat taller ride height, a boxier appearance, more ground clearance, a different track or width and a more upright windshield, he added.

Though the next-gen Escape will be able to tackle some off-road adventures, but it's designed for more urban escapades.

ďWe want to have really differentiated styling (with the new model so the Escapeís) silhouette is very sleek, dynamic Ė more progressive. The off-road utility will be more upright, boxy,Ē added Thai-Tang, who said the new vehicle will join the Ford line-up about six months after the Escape, which is scheduled to go into production toward the end of the summer in time for an autumn introduction.

Ford has described the styling of the next-generation Escape as more ďurban,Ē which Thai-Tang said leaves room for a variant that will appeal to buyers looking for more rugged vehicle built for off-road adventure.

Thai-Tang also noted the new off-road utility, despite its differentiation, will share a platform with the Escape and the new version of the Ford Focus in global markets such as China. The Escape itself will be built in plants in the U.S.

Compared to the current model, the all-new Escape stands lower, wider and longer, noted Thai-Tang. With a sloped roofline, optimized liftgate spoiler and strake, and efficient underbody, the all-new Escape is the most aerodynamic to date. Meanwhile, it sheds more than 200 pounds from the current model, due in part to the extensive use of high-strength, lightweight steel.

Ford rolled out the worldís first hybrid SUV in 2005, Ford is preparing to offer standard Escape hybrid and a plug-in variant, and introduces technologies ranging from drive modes and driver-assist features to electric vehicle ingenuity and on-board connectivity.
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Old 12-31-2019, 05:56 AM   #2
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Default Review update: The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid nears 49 mpg on our watch


Review update: The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid nears 49 mpg on our watch

Ford touts the sky-high fuel economy of its 2020 Escape Hybrid and compares it directly with vaunted names from Toyotaóbut just how good is it?

We've already told you that we prefer the Hybrid head and shoulders above other 2020 Escape crossovers. What we haven't seen are numbers like the ones observed during our recent week-long test drive. Going only by its trip computer during one typical 15-mile commute, the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid averaged 48.9 mpg. That near Prius-like level of fuel economy makes the new Escape Hybrid a compelling option in the compact crossover segment.

Keep in mind that trip-computer figures can be a few percent off trueóor, in some vehicles, as much as 20 percent optimistic.

The Ford Escape was one of the first hybrid crossovers when it launched for 2005. Now it is essential for Ford to not only stay competitive with the plug-in hybrid and electric crossovers coming to market (including an Escape PHEV coming soon), but to keep pace with hybrid versions of the best-selling Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

For now, the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid has the edge in fuel economy. It comes with front- or all-wheel drive, whereas the Toyota RAV4 is AWD only. The EPA-rated fuel economy of the Escape Hybrid AWD is 43 mpg city, 37 highway, 40 combined. The RAV4 is not as efficient around town at 41/38/40 mpg. Once fuel economy figures are revealed for the Honda CR-V Hybrid, it could top them all if the 48-mpg Accord Hybrid is any barometer. Weíre expecting 44 or 45 mpg combined for the CR-V, which also offer front- or all-wheel drive.

The Escape Hybridís four drive modes let drivers control the level of efficiency. In the Escape SE Sport AWD I tested, I was able to get that 48.9 mpg without hypermiling or taking any extra steps other than setting it to Eco mode. This typical town-to-town parenting commute included no highway driving, but there were a few long stretches of steady 35 mph driving. It recaptured enough energy to provide nine miles of all-electric power.

Eco mode consistently returned exceptional fuel economy in exchange for an almost dead throttle pedal feel. You really have to push the throttle to the floor to get Eco mode going.

On the return trip in Sport mode, which turns the instrument cluster red compared to the Ecoís blue background, the Escape averaged about 36 mpg with no electric miles; the only fuel-saving function in Sport mode is regen braking. Itís easy to forget itís a hybrid.

Modes are controlled by a button on the center console that forces users to go through Normal, Eco, Sport, then Slippery every time, so if you want to go from Normal to Sport, youíll have to stop over in Eco first. A two-way button or even a dial would work better.

Trip meters can be deceiving, but the disparity between Eco and Sport was consistent. Most Hybrid owners will choose to exceed the EPA rating with Eco mode.

This makes the Escape Hybrid not only the best Escape to own, but also one of the better compact crossovers on the market. The 2.5-liter inline-4 uses a 1.1-kwh compact battery pack and an electric motor to generate 200 horsepower. A power-split transmission essentially acts like a continuously variable automatic transmission to provide overall smooth power that is delivered quietly. The more you hammer the throttle outside of Sport mode, the more youíll notice the switch of power between the engine and the motor.

The small battery pack fits under the rear seat, so the Escape Hybrid doesnít sacrifice much cargo space: Hybrid models have 34.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up, while gas models have 37.5 cubic feet. Hybrid models donít have sliding second-row seats, however, which limits how you go about loading things in back, but they do fold flat.

Offered in either SE Sport or Titanium trim, the SE Sport is the value buy starting at $29,450 including $1,095 destination. AWD adds $1,500. My tester came with the $3,395 Premium package with a power tailgate, navigation, a panoramic roof, remote start, 19-inch wheels, and adaptive cruise control. Adaptive cruise is one of my favorite new car features, and Fordís adds a little branding charm: When the adaptive cruise control or AEB senses a lead car, it will project an image of the rear of a Ford Fusion. On the highway, it projects the rear of the Ford Mustang, sequential boomerang taillights and all. Itís not worth $3,395, but itís still cool.

In addition to all the active safety features from the base model, the SE Sport Hybrid has a 8.0-inch touchscreen complementing the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The Hybrid can be had in Titanium trim, too; it adds heated leather-trimmed front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, and other niceties that donít add up to $5,000 more, or $36,095 total, in our book.

The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid is a recommended buy for consumers who want a fuel-efficient crossover but arenít quite ready to start plugging in their cars at home. The plug-in hybrid Escape is expected later in 2020.


2020 Ford Escape Hybrid SE Sport Hybrid AWD

Base price: $29,450

As tested: $34,245

EPA fuel economy: 43/37/40 mpg

The hits: Exceptional fuel economy in Eco mode, good value, premium technology, all-wheel drive.

The misses: Titanium not worth it, drive mode button instead of dial, slight rear-seat limitations
First Drive Review posted Below

The 2020 Ford Escape may look like one compact crossover SUV, but like the English language, itís really three different things wearing one trenchcoat.

The 2020 Escape comes with a choice of four trim levels, three engines, two transmissions, and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Varietyís great, until itís confusing: Among all those choices Ford will sell you a turbo-3 Escape with all-wheel drive, a front-wheel-drive Escape Hybrid, or an all-wheel-drive turbo-4 Escape Titanium with all the trimmings. The test-drive pressure is real.

Which one should you choose? We drove the 2020 Escape in and around Louisville, Kentucky, and came away with a pecking order of favoritesówith an unexpected winner.

Hereís how we ranked the 2020 Escape after our first drives, with an asterisk.

The penny-pincher: 2020 Ford Escape SE

If you like spending less money on better things, you may be tempted by the base 2020 Ford Escape S, especially if you want to stay within a reasonable monthly payment or loan term. Thatís difficult to do now that the average transaction price for a new car hovers in the high $30,000s. For $26,080, the 2020 Escape S comes with some critical features including automatic emergency braking and power features.

What it doesnít have: All-wheel drive, a touchscreen interface, or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. In those ways itís the lesser car when compared with either the $25,505 2020 Subaru Forester or the $25,545 2019 Honda CR-V LX.

Pass the base car and opt for the $28,290 Escape SE, and those missing features appear along with a power driver seat and satellite radio. The SE is the car we think most shoppers will choose, and itís the model on which we based the 2020 Escapeís rating of 6.8 out of 10. It has all the hallmarks of this new Escape, from very Mazda-like body curves to light and direct steering to a well composed ride. Itís powered by Fordís new 180-horsepower turbo-3, which means acceleration is more measured, and some interior trim looks inexpensive compared to rivals, but this Escape has adult-sized back-seat space (with a sliding second-row bench) and excellent standard safety equipment. Itís no longer truly inexpensiveóbut which compact SUV is?

The spendy sportback: 2020 Ford Escape Titanium turbo-4

The best version of the previous Ford Escape stuffed a powerful turbo-4 under its hatchback-like hood for muscular power to match its tenacious grip. The turbo-4 is back for 2020, and itís a little less expensive, but itís been demoted to second rank by a new arrival.

Ford makes the 250-horsepower turbo-4 available in SEL and Titanium Escapes. On the former it costs $2,285 with standard all-wheel drive; on the latter it replaces the hybrid powertrain and tags another $2,885 to the sticker. At its least expensive, the turbo-4 Escape costs $32,735, a few hundred dollars less than a 2019 Escape with a similar engineóbut the 2020 version comes in SEL, not Titanium trim.

It also comes with better ride that softens the last Escapeís needle-like handling. Longer, wider, with more suspension travel and with better all-season tires, the new Escape outpoints the old car with its more fluid and more controlled ride. Thereís more compliance, but more lean into corners, too, and steering feel has relaxed noticeably. The previous Escape admittedly pushed the boundaries of what exactly makes a crossover SUV versus a high-bodied, great-handling hatchback; the new Escape clears that air and comes down on the side of comfort.

Drop all common sense, and itís easy to configure a turbo-4 2020 Escape beyond $40,000. Thatís hardly the point of a compact crossover vehicleóand at that price we can name a half-dozen vehicles that deliver stronger performance or better luxury feel. Keep it lean in the low-$30,000 range, and the most powerful Escape delivers.

Itís not the best Escape, though.

The all-arounder: 2020 Ford Escape SE Sport hybrid

The 2020 Escape marks the return of a Hybrid model to the Escape family, and for now it's the best of the trio. Offered in either SE Sport or Titanium trim, the gas-electric powertrain melds a 2.5-liter inline-4 with a 1.1-kwh lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor. A power-split transmission that acts like a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) pushes that power to the front or to all four wheels. It's good for 200 hp net.

The powertrain benefits from active noise cancellation and lots of sound deadening that other versions don't get, but it still sometimes draws attention to what's most different about the Hybrid's performance. Its drivetrain puts a bigger burden on the battery via its unique transmissionóand as a result, it can feel like it's operated by remote, with strong battery propulsion augmented by a gas engine that switches on and off, seemingly out of sync with pedal effort.

Itís responsive in the way that matters most for fuel economy, without starving the Hybrid of good road manners. The steering's quite good, ride quality is maybe even better thanks to the additional weight of the battery, and the Hybrid drivetrain's 'L' mode adds more regeneration that can be tapped into duty on winding Kentucky roads for meaningful gas-mileage gains. We saw upwards of 41 mpg indicated on the Hybridís tripometer, and will be eager to see if Ford gets the EPA's nod for 40 mpg combined or more, as they estimate.

The Escape Hybrid may be outpointed by the plug-in version due in the spring. The same car gains an upsized 14.4-kwh lithium-ion battery for an electric-only drive range of about 30 miles, and will come with drive modes that will allow drivers to conserve that range for use in neighborhoods and cities. It'll be more expensive, of course, but it will also qualify for regional and federal tax incentives due to its battery capacity.

For now, the 2020 Escape SE Sport hybrid nails a sweet spot of equipment and pricing. The $29,450 SE Sport Hybrid gets a power tailgate, navigation, a panoramic roof, and adaptive cruise controlóand it can be trimmed up to Titanium grade for a few thousand more dollars.

Itís a power play for a more efficient Ford fleet. At that price and at its expected EPA ratings, the 2020 Escape will draw more people into a high-economy hatchbackóand that will help Ford offset fuel economy of the thousands of Navigators and Super Duty pickups they sell that bring in billions. Itís the smart pick in the 2020 Escape familyófor now, at least.

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Old 12-31-2019, 10:18 AM   #3
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Old 12-31-2019, 10:28 AM   #4
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Old 12-31-2019, 02:05 PM   #5
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The mantra applies to all mass produced consumer products. Unless you're hand chiseling aluminum and steel into your own artistic interpretation of an ideal vehicle for you, relying on someone else to do it has its downsides.
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