Ford’s redesigned 2020 Escape arrives in two stages: the conventional gas-only and standard hybrid models in the third quarter of this year and a plug-in hybrid model in the first quarter of 2020.
The regular hybrid – no plug – will offer front- and all-wheel drive versions. The plug-in hybrid, or PHEV, will offer front-wheel-drive only. While the hybrids have more power and better fuel economy than the conventionally powered 2020 Escape, their battery packs eat up a bit of rear-seat and cargo room. Here are five things to know about the hybrid models.
2 HYBRIDS, 2 EFFICIENCY LEVELS
Different drivers have different needs. While both 2020 Ford Escape hybrids will have improved fuel efficiency, Ford figures the PHEV – with its extended all-electric range – will satisfy those who hate to use gasoline more than necessary.
Official Environmental Protection Agency estimates haven’t been published, but Ford said the front-wheel drive version of the standard hybrid Escape will deliver up to 550 miles of range. That works out to 39 mpg overall. The all-wheel drive system will probably drop that number slightly. Ford hasn’t provided any guidance there.
For the PHEV, a 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack will store enough juice to deliver about 30 miles of all-electric range, according to Ford. That’s provided owners plug in between trips. Ford hasn’t provided total range estimates. But the typical PHEV extends the range of a conventional hybrid model – with much higher overall fuel efficiency.
Ford killed its C-Max Energi PHEV hatchback after the 2017 model year, but its 7.6 kWh battery delivered 20 miles of all-electric range. Many owners racked up overall fuel economy of 50 mpg or more. The standard hybrid was EPA-rated at 40 mpg in combined driving. Range for the 2017 C-Max PHEV with a full battery and a full tank on gas was 570 miles, versus 540 miles for the conventional hybrid C-Max.
MORE POWER, LESS TOW CAPACITY
The 2020 Escape hybrids use a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor fed from a liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery pack – 1.1 kWh for the standard hybrid and 14.4 kWh for the plug-in-hybrid. Both are rated at 198 horsepower. The standard engine for the conventionally powered Escape is a 15-liter, 3-cylinder turbocharged powerplant.
Despite the additional power, the hybrids are tow-rated at 1,500 pounds, compared with 3,500 pounds for the conventionally powered models. The lighter tow load helps with fuel economy and battery life. The Escape Hybrid weighs 155 pounds more than the conventional model, and the Escape PHEV ‘s larger battery pack adds an additional 330 pounds.
Ford is using a new platform for the 2020 Escape that was designed to help store the hybrids’ batteries without much intrusion into the passenger cabin or cargo area.
Still, those batteries aren’t present on a conventionally powered Escape, and they’ve got to go somewhere. Ford stowed them under the rear seat.
As a result, the hybrids offer only 34.4 cubic feet. The conventional 2020 Escape will have up to 37.5 cubic feet of storage behind the sliding rear seats. Total cargo space grows to 60.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat in the hybrid. The gas model offers 65.4 cubic feet.
With the rear seats pushed all the way back on their 6-inch track to maximize rear legroom, the hybrids’ cargo area shrinks to 30.7 cubic feet. The gas model’s rear stowage decreases to 33.5 cubic feet.
Toyota’s new RAV4 hybrid (no plug-in version) leads the compact crossover pack with 37.5 cubic feet of cargo area behind the rear seats and 69.8 cubic feet with the back seats folded down.
The 2020 Escape hybrids’ rear seats are the same split, sliding seats used in the conventionally powered Escape, with the same 6 inches of travel. But the rear seat legroom in the hybrid is 1.75 inches less than in the conventional model.
FEWER TRIMS, MORE MODES
The conventional 2020 Escape will come in all five of Ford’s trim levels – S, SE, SE Sport, SEL and Titanium. But the Escape Hybrid will be available only in SE Sport and Titanium trims, while the Escape PHEV will come in three levels – SE, SEL and Titanium.
Both hybrids will have four driver-selectable operating modes. Auto EV tells the computer to make all the decisions about when to run on gas, electric or a blend of both. EV Now locks in all-electric driving for as long as the battery charge allows. EV Later saves battery power for later – such as when driving in a central city quiet zone. EV Charge uses some of the engine’s power to recharge the battery while driving.