2020 Ford Escape

2020 Ford Escape Review: A Bold New Look

by Morgan Carter

After struggling to keep up with the competition for far too long, the Ford Escape finally undergoes a complete overhaul for 2020. Complete might be a bit misleading, though. It still gets a turbocharged three-cylinder engine as standard, although with slightly higher outputs of 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. The turbo-four-pot also gets minor improvements, but it's the addition of two hybrid options that will most likely excite, although we review those variants separately. With a bold new design, both inside and out, as well as a much longer list of standard features across the range, the Escape is finally ready to take on the likes of the Honda CR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe. You can pick it up just as cheap for $24,885 in the USA, or spring for one of the pricier hybrid models and potentially save more in the long run.

2020 Ford Escape Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Escape?

The 2020 Ford Escape, known as the Ford Kuga in foreign markets, sees a complete redesign for the start of a new decade. Along with bolder new looks, the Escape gets a number of notable improvements. For a start, the SUV is now slightly larger than it used to be, which translates to extra passenger and cargo space. The sliding second-row seats help to optimize passenger space in the back, too. Every model gets the Ford Co-Pilot360 driver-assistance suite as standard, along with a driver-information display. The upper trims get added features and a larger display, though. There is also an available head-up display. The biggest change, however, has been the improvements to the standard gasoline engines and the addition of two new powertrains, both hybrid options. Along with these, Ford also decided to add a few selectable drive modes.

Pros and Cons

  • Powerful turbo-four engine
  • Athletic handling
  • Ford Co-Pliot360 safety suite standard
  • Updated infotainment system
  • Capacious trunk
  • Disappointing in-line three-cylinder
  • Inconsistent interior quality

2020 Ford Escape Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
1.5-liter Turbo Inline-3 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$24,885
SE
1.5-liter Turbo Inline-3 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$27,105
SEL
1.5-liter Turbo Inline-3 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$29,265
Titanium
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$36,835

2020 Ford Escape Exterior

The Ford Escape is far more curvaceous and sporty than the tired, old Escape of yesteryear. The bland, twin-bar grille has been replaced with a bold diamond-mesh grille, with chrome surround on the SE upwards. The side profile features far more pronounced concave curves, which gives the SUV a more wide-hipped appearance, reminiscent of the Mazda CX-5. Automatic halogen headlights come standard, along with 17-inch wheels. The upper trims get access to 18- or 19-inch alloys, LED headlights, and LED fog lights. The standard manual liftgate is upgraded to a hands-free power liftgate from the SEL upwards.

2020 Ford Escape Front Angle View Ford
2020 Ford Escape Side View Driving Ford
2020 Ford Escape Side View Ford
See All 2020 Ford Escape Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Despite gaining a few inches, the Ford Escape's dimensions allow it to fit snugly into the compact segment. It now has a length of 180.5 inches and a slightly longer 106.7-inch wheelbase. It's a tad shorter though, standing 66.1 inches tall without its roof rack. Fold down the side mirrors and the SUV can squeeze into a parking space 78.7 inches wide. And, while it may have grown in size, the Escape is actually a bit lighter than it used to be, with the base model S shaving off almost 300 pounds to weigh in at 3,298 lbs. The heaviest model has gained a few pounds, though, maxing out at 3,556 lbs with the bigger engine and AWD equipped.

  • Length 180.5 in
  • Wheelbase 106.7 in
  • Height 66.1 in
  • Max Width 74.1 in
  • Front Width 62.4 in
  • Rear Width 61.8 in

Exterior Colors

The new Escape makes do with a relatively unimpressive palette of body paints. The base S model gets access to the majority of the options, including all the standard no-cost colors. These include Agate Black, Ingot Silver, Dark Persian Green, Velocity Blue, Magnetic, Oxford White, Desert Gold, and Blue Metallic. Choose anything but the S, and you can opt for the premium colors, which comprise Star White at $595 and Rapid Red for $395.

  • Rapid Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat
  • Star White Metallic Tri-Coat
  • Sedona Orange Metallic, Build Out: 12/16/2019
  • Blue Metallic
  • Dark Persian Green Metallic
  • Velocity Blue Metallic
  • Desert Gold Metallic
  • Magnetic Metallic
  • Agate Black Metallic
  • Ingot Silver Metallic
  • Oxford White

Escape Performance

The compact SUV's performance has seen some mild improvement for the new year, thanks to minor enhancements to the standard powertrains. The three-cylinder engine still struggles to move the Escape, despite the loss of a few pounds. According to independent testers, the base engine takes a modest 7.7 seconds to get the SUV up to just 60 mph. While not the kind of quickness you'll get from a hot hatch, this is still significantly faster than the outgoing Escape.

If you want a lot more fun, though, there is the available turbo-four engine on the SEL and Titanium trims. With 250 hp and 280 lb-ft on tap, these trims are able to make the 0-60 mph sprint in a far more impressive 5.7 seconds, according to the same testers. Faster throttle responses and a more refined driving experience are big selling points for the new Escape, which help it to compete with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, which handily trounced the previous generation.

2020 Ford Escape Front View Driving Ford
2020 Ford Escape Rear View Driving Ford
2020 Ford Escape Charge Port Ford

Engine and Transmission

Two powertrains are available to the Ford Escape, yet again. However, both have seen minor improvements to their outputs for the new year. The lower-tier S, SE, and SEL get a 1.5-liter turbo-three-cylinder engine as standard, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox to develop 181 hp and 190 lb-ft, directed to your choice of the front or all four wheels. Despite the improvement to output figures, the base engine still fails to impress. It gets the SUV moving, perhaps a bit better than the outgoing Escape, thanks to the reduction in overall weight. Passing on the highway is still a chore, though.

The other available combustion engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. This powertrain, for either the SEL or Titanium, develops 250 hp and 280 lb-ft for all four wheels only. A far more compelling driving experience is delivered by this powertrain, with more potent acceleration and far better passing power on the highway.

  • Engines
    1.5-liter Turbo Inline-3 Gas, 2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Escape has never been a show-stopper on the road, with not enough punch from the base engine to have fun, and not enough handling to properly enjoy the more powerful four-cylinder powertrain. However, the new, sleeker, lighter 2020 Ford Escape is ready to turn that reputation on its head. The new-generation SUV has a little more power on tap to give it that extra kick in the pants it really needed. Throttle responses aren't overly eager, but there is a sense of playfulness there, especially when you opt for the turbocharged four-pot.

With sub-six-second acceleration times, the Escape is able to deliver on the promise its svelte, aerodynamic design makes. But it's not just the speed that has improved; the compact SUV also has better handling dynamics than ever before. This means you can actually enjoy what the Ford is offering. Naturally, you'd expect this to come at the expense of ride comfort, but the Escape does a good job of mitigating most road conditions, even when outfitted with the large 19-inch alloys.

Five drive modes allow you to customize your experience to suit your mood, with Sport delivering the most feedback from the wheels and quicker throttle responses, while Normal or Eco take a more mindful approach to cut down your fuel bill or emphasize safer driving.

Escape Gas Mileage

With access to two powertrains and either front- or all-wheel-drive, the Ford Escape's mpg figures depend on the spec you choose. The standard three-cylinder engine gets slightly better mileage than it did last year, with an EPA-estimated 27/33/30 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles when set up in front-wheel-drive. The all-wheel drivetrain sees these figures drop across the board to 26/31/28 mpg. The other available combustion engine is the turbocharged four-cylinder, which comes standard with all-wheel-drive. This powertrain is a bit thirstier, getting only 23/31/26 mpg. The three-cylinder engine comes paired to a 14.7-gallon fuel tank, while the turbo-four gets a 15.8-gallon tank. In its most optimized configuration, the Escape can travel up to 442 miles before needing to refuel. Overall, the Ford Escape's gas mileage figures are definitely manageable.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    14.7 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 27/33 mpg
* 2020 Ford Escape S FWD

2020 Ford Escape SUV Interior

Much like the exterior, the Ford Escape's interior has been completely overhauled. The new model is far more modern now, with design elements that seem to have been inherited from the popular Ford Edge. Extra driver-assistance features now come standard, too, along with a driver-information display and an updated SYNC infotainment interface - SYNC 3 on the upper trims. The controls are easy to access and operate, although the hard plastic or padded vinyl don't do much to make it feel very upscale. There's plenty of space, though, both for passengers and cargo, and the power sliding and folding rear seats make it easy to maximize either.

2020 Ford Escape Dashboard Ford
2020 Ford Escape Gearbox Controls Ford
2020 Ford Escape Dashboard 1 Ford
See All 2020 Ford Escape Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Ford Escape is still able to seat five, but now it can do so in more comfort. Thanks to the few extra inches here and there, the SUV now supplies ample head- and legroom regardless of where you're sitting. Front passengers will have nothing to complain about, with more than 40 inches of head- and legroom, while those in the back lose only a smidge of each. However, the hybrid models can't be quite as generous, as the under-seat battery steals a few inches of legroom. Still, most adults should fit without a fuss. The standard model gets a six-way manual driver's seat, while upgrading to the SE or above replaces this with a ten-way power seat and heating for both front seats. Getting in and out of the SUV is a simple task thanks to its ample step-in height and wide-opening doors. It also offers excellent visibility from the driving position.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.4 in
  • Front Head Room 40.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.9 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.3 in

Interior Colors and Materials

While the materials used throughout the cabin may not be the most premium, they are durable and well-sourced. The overall build quality is good, too, making the Escape a hardy family SUV. The S and SE trims both come standard with cloth upholstery. On the base model, only Dark Earth Gray is offered, but the SE gets access to Sandstone, too. The penultimate SEL gets the ActiveX upholstery as standard, while the top-tier Titanium upgrades to genuine leather upholstery, retaining the same palette as the leatherette. Overall, the cabin is well-built but a quick glance around shows plenty of shiny, hard plastic on display. It's just a pity the designers didn't show the same amount of attention they did with the seats.

2020 Ford Escape Trunk and Cargo Space

The Ford Escape's cargo space has always been pretty generous. Slightly larger for 2020, the new model boasts an even larger standard trunk, with up to 37.5 cubic feet of space on offer behind the rear seats. Even without that extra three cubes, the SUV supplies enough room for just about any day-to-day task, be it grocery shopping for the week or carting the kids between school and their extracurriculars. If you need even more space, the rear seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split to free up 65.4 cubic feet with a flat cargo floor for storing larger items.

There's a fair amount of small-item storage around the family-centric cabin. A total of six cupholders are spread out for ease of access, and there is even an overhead console. Naturally, there is a standard glove compartment, and the door pockets are large enough to store water bottles. The center armrest houses a modest storage cubby, and there are two media bins set within the center console.

2020 Ford Escape Rear Passenger Seats Ford
2020 Ford Escape Gearbox Controls 1 Ford
2020 Ford Escape Maximum Cargo Space Ford

Escape Infotainment and Features

Features

While by no means a heavily accoutered SUV, the Ford Escape gets a pretty impressive standard offering. In its basic guise, the Escape comes outfitted with cloth upholstery, a six-way manual driver's seat, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, manual air conditioning, and remote keyless entry. It also gets a 4.2-inch driver information display, along with blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision warning, lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. Three 12-volt power outlets are spread throughout the cabin. A ten-way power driver's seat and heated front seats are added to the SE, and the air con is upgraded to automatic climate control. The penultimate SEL equips the SUV with a hands-free power liftgate and replaces the front seats with sport contour buckets. The cloth upholstery is upgraded to leatherette, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel gets heating. A remote start system and reverse sensing system are added, too. Standard on the top-tier trim is dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, a six-way power passenger seat, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The safety suite is bolstered with adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, and front and rear parking aid. A head-up display is available as an optional add-on.

Infotainment

The infotainment suite on the S is a bit basic, with only a small 4.2-inch LCD display that supports AppLink, Bluetooth, and a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. AM/FM Radio comes standard too, along with six speakers. A pair of USB ports supplement the power outlets to charge your devices. Stepping up to the SE sees the screen enlarged to eight inches, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are added to the features list. SiriusXM improves the standard listening options. Navigation is only added at the Titanium level, with voice-activated controls and SiriusXM Traffic. HD Radio is added, too, and the sound system is upgraded to a ten-speaker Bang & Olufsen set-up.

Ford Escape Common Problems and Reliability

Brand new for 2020, the Ford Escape has yet to earn a dependability rating from J.D. Power. However, the SUV has already been subjected to a recall for reduced seat back strength. The Escape is covered by Ford's standard warranty plan, including a 36,000-mile/36-month bumper-to-bumper warranty and 60,000 miles/60 months of drivetrain coverage and roadside assistance.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

Ford Escape Safety

Much like the old-generation Escape it replaces, the 2020 iteration of the popular SUV gets a near-perfect five-star rating from the NHTSA. The IIHS is equally generous in its review of the Ford Escape, giving the Ford a score of Good in every category and awarding it the Top Safety Pick for 2020.

Ford Escape Key Safety Features

The Ford Escape gets all the standard mechanical safety features you'd expect on a modern family SUV, including ABS, stability and traction control, and an above-average seven airbags: dual front, driver knee, front side, and side curtain. Every model now comes with a pretty extensive list of standard safety features under the Ford Co-Pilot360 umbrella. These features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, pre-collision avoidance, pedestrian detection, automatic high-beam, assist, and a rearview camera. This is further upgraded with adaptive cruise control and evasive steering on the Titanium, and bolstered by Active Park Assist 2.0 with rear and front parking aid.

Verdict: 🏁Is the Ford Escape a good car?

Ford's subcompact SUV may have struggled to stand out in the past, but that is certainly no longer the case after its overhaul for the new decade. Thanks to some bolder design choices, the new Ford Escape now turns heads rather than stomachs. The exterior is far more athletic, while the interior gets the modern updates it so desperately needed.

The crossover has also improved upon its features list, with Ford Co-Pilot360 now coming standard on every trim, rivaling if not beating the value offered by its leading competitors like the Honda CR-V. Add to this an improved infotainment suite on the upper trims, better material choices, and an overall more spacious cabin, and Ford may have a real recipe for success. Notably, this isn't the SUV for you if towing capacity is something you prioritize.

The old Ford Escape seems like little more than a bad memory after less than a year off the market, thanks in no small part to the breath of fresh air that is the new Ford Escape. And, if gas engines just aren't modern enough for you, the Escape comes in two available hybrid configurations, which we review separately.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Ford Escape?

With four trim levels and a variety of powertrain configurations, the Escape price tag can vary quite a bit, but it remains relatively affordable nonetheless. The most basic model is the S trim, with only one powertrain, for sale at a starting price of $24,885. The SE will cost you $27,105 in its standard configuration, while adding all-wheel-drive ups the price by $1,500. Just below the top model, the SEL is priced at $29,265 with the standard engine, while upgrading to the four-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive adds $1,100 to the bill. Coming standard with the powerful turbo-four-pot, the Titanium feels comfortable asking for a pretty hefty investment of $36,435. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and Ford's $1,245 destination fee.

Ford Escape Models

Four models in multiple configurations make up the 2020 offering of the Ford Escape crossover lineup. The S, SE, and SEL come standard with the 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox in either front-wheel- or all-wheel-drive. The SE and SEL can equip the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which only gets the all-wheel drivetrain.

The entry-level S rides on 17-inch steel wheels and comes equipped with automatic halogen headlights. It gets a comprehensive Ford Co-Pilot360 safety suite, with pre-collision avoidance, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam assist. It gets the smaller 4.2-inch driver information display, as well as a 4.2-inch LCD infotainment display with Applink, Bluetooth, AM/FM Radio, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, and a six-speaker sound system.

The SE gets alloy wheels, instead, and upgrades the infotainment to an eight-inch screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM. The six-way driver's seat is replaced with a ten-way power seat, while both front seats get heating. Automatic climate control is made standard, too.

Upgrading to the SEL replaces the front seats with sport contour bucket seats, upgrades the cloth upholstery to ActiveX leatherette, and adds driver-seat memory. Outside, the SUV gets a hands-free power liftgate, fog lights, and a reverse sensing system.

At the top of the range, the Titanium rides on larger 19-inch alloys and is outfitted with LED head- and fog lights. It also gets leather upholstery and dual-zone climate control. The safety suite is supplemented with front and rear parking aid, evasive steering assist, and adaptive cruise control, while the infotainment gets a ten-speaker B&O sound system, HD Radio, and navigation.

See All 2020 Ford Escape Trims and Specs

Ford Escape Additional Packages

With a pretty well-defined line-up of trims, there aren't all that many reasons or means to customize your Escape. Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist ($695) can be added to every trim aside from the base S and Titanium, adding voice-activated navigation, SiriusXM Traffic. Most models can also add a panoramic vista roof for $1,495. The Titanium gets exclusive access to the Premium Package 2.0 ($2,100), which comprises a head-up display, the panoramic sunroof, and a 110-volt power outlet.

🚗What Ford Escape Model Should I Buy?

For the most part, the Ford Escape is quite well priced for even buyers on a budget. Naturally, those truly strapped for cash will want to get the S trim, and they won't be disappointed as it offers great practicality and a respectable list of standard safety features. If one of your primary factors is fun, though, you'll want the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which means picking up an SEL or Titanium. Both are very well-appointed, but they sacrifice fuel economy. Both get the upgraded infotainment system, although only the Titanium gets the B&O sound system as standard.

Check out other Ford Escape Styles

2020 Ford Escape Comparisons

Ford Edge Ford
Honda CR-V CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Ford Escape181 hp27/33 mpg$24,885
Ford Edge 250 hp21/29 mpg$31,100
Honda CR-V 190 hp28/34 mpg$25,150

2020 Ford Escape vs Ford Edge

Unlike its smaller sibling, the Ford Edge is not all-new for 2020. But it did receive a refresh in 2019, so it's not as outdated as the outgoing Escape. That said, the Edge still feels pretty dated. The smaller SUV makes use of the same engines available to its big bro, but its lighter body and more athletic design mean that it can do more with the power on offer. When you add the two available hybrid options, the Escape just has so much more variety, although the Edge does get a V6-powered ST performance model. Naturally, the Edge has a bit more space inside, but thanks to its redesign for 2020, the Escape isn't that far behind when it comes to passenger space. It can even almost compete with the Edge's 39.2-cubic-foot trunk. With a lower price tag, better fuel economy, more modern standard features, and competitive cargo capacity, the Ford Escape just feels like the better choice. But if you really need the extra trunk space, there's no getting around the fact that the Edge has better ratings in terms of practicality.

See Ford Edge Review

2020 Ford Escape vs Honda CR-V

While it hasn't received a complete update like the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V has always been the more modern of the two SUVs. This means that it doesn't feel that far behind the brand-new Escape. Its standard turbo-three-cylinder is a tad stronger than the Ford's, with 190 hp and 179 lb-ft, but it doesn't get the option of a stronger powertrain, although the CR-V Hybrid is a match for either of the hybrid powertrains Ford has on offer. Inside, the Japanese SUV has more space, with an impressive 39.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity. It also feels more upscale, with higher quality materials and better construction. In terms of driver-assistance features, the two rivals are on par, and the same goes for infotainment. The Ford gets a better sound system, and both get a wireless charging pad on the top trim. While the choice between the two SUVs was always clear in the past, the new updates to the Escape make it a lot more about taste than actual empirical value.

See Honda CR-V Review

Ford Escape Popular Comparisons

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2020 Ford Escape Video Reviews

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$24,885 - $36,835
Price Range (MSRP)
Ford Escape