Four engines will be available in the 2020 Escape. The smallest looks to be the most interesting. It's the North American debut of Ford's 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine that launched in 2018 across Europe. It sports the industry's only cylinder deactivation system on a three-cylinder engine.
At certain speeds and loads the engine turns off one cylinder and cruises on just two. The 1.5-liter engine is rated at 180 hp on 93 octane fuel. Lower grades of gasoline will reduce the engine's output, but Ford did not say by how much.
The Escape's second available engine is an updated version of Ford's workhorse 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, this time cranking out 250 hp, also on 93 octane premium fuel. That's up 5 hp from the outgoing 2.0-liter engine. Using less expensive, lower octane gasoline will cause power from the 2.0-liter engine to drop, but again Ford didn't offer any details.
Both the 1.5-liter and the 2.0-liter engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 1.5-liter engine can be ordered with either front-wheel drive or optional disconnecting all-wheel drive; the 2.0-liter Escape comes only with the optional disconnecting all-wheel drive.
For the first time since 2012, a hybrid powertrain is back in the Escape lineup. Ford spokesman Dan Jones said the Escape Hybrid's powertrains are based on the architecture used in the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid sedan.
Two versions of the Escape Hybrid will be available: A full hybrid gasoline-electric model available in two-wheel drive or with optional disconnecting all-wheel drive. Also, Ford will offer the Escape with a plug-in gasoline-electric powertrain. The range on battery power for the Escape PHEV, Ford says, will be at least 30 miles.
Equipped with electronic continuously variable transmissions, both hybrid models allow the driver to choose between four modes:
- Auto EV lets the vehicle decide whether to run on gasoline or electric power.
- EV Now enables the vehicle to run in electric-only mode.
- EV Later gives drivers the option of choosing to switch to gasoline power and save electric-only driving range for later. Chevrolet's Volt has a similar option.
- EV Charge directs the powertrain to charge the battery pack while the vehicle is being driven so that electric only range can be used later.
The front-wheel-drive Escape Hybrid has a top speed of 85 mph on battery power, according to Ford. No word yet on EPA fuel economy ratings.
Ford says it is aiming for a range of at least 400 miles per tank on all models and trim levels of the Escape, topping out at at least 550 miles of driving range on a tank full of gasoline for the Escape Hybrid. That would be tops among compact hybrid crosssovers, but behind the Chevrolet Equinox diesel, which can go 581 miles per tank between fillups.
"Customers will spend less time at the gas station and more time on the road," said Kumar Golhotra, Ford's North American president.
From 2005 to 2012, Ford sold more than 114,000 Escape Hybrids. It was the second-best selling hybrid behind the Toyota Prius. Ford lost momentum with the Escape Hybrid's successor, the Ford C-Max, which has since been canceled.