Is the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid Good Enough to take on the Rav4 Hybrid?
They're both very efficient compact SUVs but which would you choose?
Did you know that the Ford Escape was among one of the first compact SUVs to be offered with a hybrid powertrain? Well now it is back with the all-new 4th generation 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid. But how good is it and can it compete against the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid?
Engine – The new generation Ford Escape is offered with gasoline only engines and even a plug-in hybrid variant. But this model is a traditional hybrid that just does its own thing to provide the best fuel economy possible. This Escape Hybrid is powered by a 2.5L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine with aid from an 88 kW electric motor that gets its power form a 1.1 kWh battery pack. The total system output is 200 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. It’s not the fastest compact hybrid SUV, in fact it’s one of the slowest to 100 km/h, but it can get up to highway speeds without impending anyone that may be behind you. If you’re gentle on the throttle pedal, the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid can accelerate from a stop to around 100 km/h on just electricity alone. It can also maintain steady drives for short periods on electricity only. Afterwhich, the gasoline engine will start up to recharge the small 1.4 kWh battery.
Depending on how gentle you are on the throttle, the Ford Escape Hybrid can achieve some pretty remarkable fuel economy figures. It is officially rated for 5.5 L/100km (42.7 mpg) in a city and 6.4 L/100km (36.8 mpg) on a highway for this AWD variant. During my time with the Escape Hybrid, I drove it for a total distance of 667 km, 268 of which were electric only km (the trip computer can tell you that). My overall fuel economy figure was 5.8 L/100km (40.5 mpg) which is right in the middle of the official fuel economy figures.
Transmission – Power is sent through an eCVT transmission and onto all four wheels. A front wheel drive variant is available. The eCVT is not like other newer CVT transmissions. It doesn’t try to replicate virtual gears and instead just holds engine rpms to whatever the computer deems necessary for acceleration or battery charging.
Braking – The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid recovers some energy from when slowing down. However, there’s a limit to how much power the system can recover from braking. According to the “tachometer”, the Escape Hybrid can recover up to 35 kW of power before the normal steel brakes take over braking duty. The changeover from regen braking to normal braking is seamless. Automatic emergency braking is standard on the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid.
Handling – In the past, the Ford Escape has been known as a more sporty driving compact SUV. Unfortunately this new generation Escape doesn’t feel quite as sporty to drive. Steering effort is light which is great for tight parking lots but not so much for an engaging drive down a twisty road. Granted, this is meant to be more of a city SUV rather than a sporty SUV like the Mazda CX-5.
Ride Comfort – Around town or on a highway, the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid is quite comfortable. The suspension absorbs bumps with ease and it doesn’t make the SUV feel floaty over rougher roads.
The seats are soft which further aid in providing comfort on longer journeys. The driver gets a 10-way power seat while the passenger only gets a 6-way power seat.
Interior Space – The Escape Hybrid offers a lot of room for front occupants. At 6’4”, I have no issues with leg or head room. The rear seats are also commodious for adults although if you want more head room, opt out of the panoramic sunroof. The rear seats fold 60/40 and are also sliding for more leg or cargo space. The trunk unfortunately is not quite as commodious as the rest of the cabin. 974 L (34.4 cu-ft) of cargo can fit behind the second row and 1,852 L (65.4 cu-ft) can fit with the rear seats folded. Both of those figures are a bit less than the Nissan Rogue & Toyota Rav4 Hybrid.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – When the 2020 Escape Hybrid is being driven by the electric motor only, it is dead silent in the cabin on city streets. On a highway, the road noise starts to intrude a bit but it’s definitely not deafening. When the gasoline engine turns on to recharge the battery, it’s fairly quiet. It’s only when the gasoline engine provides direct power to the wheels does it become annoyingly loud, especially since the eCVT holds the rpms in one spot while the Escape Hybrid accelerates up to speed.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Unfortunately the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid is only available in one trim in Canada; the top Titanium trim. It starts at $38,150 CAD ($33,550 USD) and this one, as equipped, is $40,750 CAD ($37,200 USD). If you’re reading this in the United States, you also get a less expensive SE Sport Hybrid trim for $28,265 USD. But while it’s only available in the top Titanium trim here in Canada, it is equipped with everything you’d ever need. The only major option is the Premium package which adds the panoramic sunroof, a heads-up display, 110V power outlet, and a cargo mat.
The infotainment system is still the Sync 3 which works well and is easy to get used to even if you’re not familiar with it. There are also tips next to each feature in the settings menu in case you don’t know what the feature does or changes. Apple CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity are standard.
One interesting gadget that the new generation 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid has is the Active Park Assist 2.0 feature. Self-parking cars are not new but most usually require some driver interaction, such as braking, to properly function. The 2020 Escape requires the driver to just hold one button and the SUV will do the rest. Acceleration, braking, & steering are all done by the car for both perpendicular and parallel parking maneuvers.
Interior Design – “Functional” is probably the best word to describe the interior design of the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid. The controls are easily within reach and there are plenty of storage spaces for small items or drinks. I also like the standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. But one thing I’m not a fan of is the fake looking wood trim across the dashboard. A silver piece of trim would have looked more in place than the fake looking wood.
Exterior Design – From the outside, the new Escape kind of looks like a Porsche Macan… that is if you’re looking at it from a long distance and you squint. It has a lot of smooth curves from the front to the back. The front headlights are probably the most intricate design feature of the Escape with four individual LED clusters in each one. The only design feature that some may not like is the fish mouth grille. Overall, I’m ok with the exterior design of the new Escape Hybrid, especially in this Velocity Blue paint colour.
The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid’s biggest competitor is the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid. The Rav4 Hybrid is available in a lower trim with fewer features for about $6,000 CAD less than the Escape Hybrid. But a fully loaded Rav4 Hybrid is about $2,000 CAD more expensive than a fully loaded Escape Hybrid. The Rav4 Hybrid is a bit more powerful and has almost the same fuel economy figures as the Escape Hybrid with the Ford just barely edging it by 0.2 L/100km for city driving.
The new Escape Hybrid is a terrific SUV and Ford consistently has sales events that you can take advantage of to get an even lower price than that of the Rav4 Hybrid (with similar features). But the Toyota will probably hold its value a bit better than the Ford when it comes time to sell it. So on that basis, they’re pretty similar in terms of pricing and getting value for your money. The Rav4 will definitely be more popular than the Escape but you will not be disappointed with the Ford and the money you could save when purchasing it.