The start-stop feature comes with one of two EcoBoost engine options.
Ford is replacing the 1.6-liter engine on the current Escape with a 1.5-liter motor that’s estimated to produce roughly the same horsepower and torque. Or buyers could step up to a 2.0-liter, twin-scroll engine, introduced earlier this year in the Edge, that Ford says creates less vibration and noise than the outgoing 2.0 liter.
Even with the stop-start feature and new engines, Ford doesn’t expect the Escape’s fuel economy rating to rise in comparison to the outgoing model. It might even fall slightly to better reflect real-world performance.
Ford has focused on improving capability and adding features more than increasing fuel economy in several recent updates to its car and light-truck lineup.
The base model S trim will use a carryover 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine.
The trapezoidal front grille is much larger than on the current Escape, bringing it more in line with the look of the redesigned Edge.
Inside the cabin, Ford said it changed the design or material used on nearly all surfaces that customers will touch, including the steering wheel, dashboard and climate controls. Sync 3, which replaced MyFord Touch in the 2016 Escape, now will come with five free years of the Sync Connect mobile access. The glove box is now a bin that swings outward for easier access to its contents.
On the center console, Ford replaced the mechanical parking-brake lever with an electronic button, freeing up space to reposition the gearshift and add storage areas large enough for today’s oversize phones and sunglasses. (The Escape is Ford’s most female-oriented vehicle, with women accounting for 53 percent of buyers.)
Besides adding new features and improving the styling, Ford hopes the refresh will help the Escape move past the mechanical issues that have plagued it since being redesigned for the 2013 model year. Ford has issued 16 recalls for problems including engine fires, airbags not deploying, fuel pump seizures, warning lights not working and doors flying open while the vehicle is moving.
Some of the biggest recalls involved the 1.6-liter engine that’s being discontinued.
Though the Escape will look more like the Edge, and both are two-row, five-passenger crossovers, they’ll still appeal to different groups of consumers, said Crystal Worthem, marketing manager for the Escape and Fusion.
Buyers of the Escape, which starts at about $5,000 less than the Edge, tend to be younger and have fewer children. The Edge offers significantly more cargo space, making it the more practical option.
“It’s a matter of whether I can go to Costco comfortably,” Worthem said.