By on April 2, 2021

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid SE Sport Fast Facts

2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with 88 kWh electric motor (200 horsepower; 155 lb-ft)

Continuously variable automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

43 city / 37 highway / 40 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

5.5 city, 6.4 highway, 5.9 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $29,775 (U.S) / $34,499 (Canada)

As Tested: $34,245 (U.S.) / $37,349 (Canada)

Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States and $2,100 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

It’s been a year and a half or so since I first drove the current-gen Ford Escape down in Kentucky, before anyone heard the word, COVID, and I still don’t know what to make of it. That goes double for the hybrid.

I wasn’t enamored with its blob-like styling, but some of youse guys found it attractive, or at least acceptable. Certainly, Ford gets credit for taking a bit of risk in order to make the Escape stand out in the sea of anonymous compact crossovers.

On the other hand, I did praise its road manners, finding it to be relatively fun to wheel through a corner.

Enter the hybrid, which you’d expect to sacrifice some sport at the altar of fuel economy. And it does.

Combining a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an 88 kWh electric motor for a drivetrain that makes 200 horsepower and 155 lb-ft of torque, the SE Sport hybrid isn’t precisely swift.

Not that it’s really supposed to be. It’s meant to be a high-mileage grocery getter.

That also becomes apparent when one pushes the Escape hybrid. While the steering offers up lively feel and the turn-in is surprisingly nice for a commuter’s crossover, the tires just give up the ghost quite easily.

Ah, well, that’s probably to be expected in a vehicle with a focus on fuel-economy. More disappointing are the interior materials, which feel a bit downmarket.

The interior design also feels like a bit of a letdown – it takes the idea of form following function to a bit of an extreme, leaving you with controls that are simple and easy to use and locate to go along with a boring look. The generally-disliked floating infotainment screen is in use here.

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

It may sound like I am being unduly harsh on the Escape, but while it has its flaws, it still does certain things really well. There’s the aforementioned ability to handle well, at least until the tires reach their grip limit, and the ride is acceptable if not super compliant. The continuously-variable automatic is unobtrusive. And then there’s the main mission – fuel economy.

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

An all-wheel-drive Escape Hybrid like my test vehicle can bring home numbers of 43 mpg city/37 mpg highway/40 mpg combined. Not bad.

Sensing a theme here? That this Escape trades some performance for utility? That, I think, is the point.

Also, the sun rises in the east.

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

The fuel-sipping shopper needn’t sacrifice too much in the way of features. Standard features included a rear spoiler, heated front seats, USB ports, Co-Pilot 360 driver-aid, keyless starting, Wi-Fi, Sync, satellite radio, keyless entry, and rearview-camera.

The SE Sport Premium Package added 19-inch wheels, ActiveX seat material, sunroof, navigation, power liftgate, remote start, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go. Total price? $34,245 including $1,095 in fees.

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

Looks aside, I find the regular Escape to be a fairly fun to drive crossover, and some of that gets lost in the hunt for more MPGs should you select the hybrid.

It’s not so bad that I’d avoid the hybrid at all costs, but unless fuel economy really matters to you, the gasser will likely serve you better.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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32 Comments on “2020 Ford Escape Hybrid SE Sport Review – Mixed Bag...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Like I have said in another post I dont mind the styling at all. Its better looking IMO that the thing it replaced but no where near what the original was. Its much bigger on the inside than the previous model and in my view now is atleast competitive. I might would buy this and I would have never bought the prior model. The prior model seem compromised in so many areas that I dont nowhere to begin.
    As far as the interior goes you are correct in stating that it seem low level, however I do like the design in the fact that they do give you buttons. As much as folks complain about Ford poor reliability in the electronic parts of cars this should be praised.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The wife’s next car will likely be an Escape Hybrid but the Plug-in version. She hasn’t considered anything but a Hybrid since she had her 2010 Fusion Hybrid. She currently drives a C-Max Energi and the near 40 mile range will handle 90% of the M-F days and for road trips which we hope to take more of in the future, it will definitely be easier and cheaper than an EV and fast chargers.

    It is a CUV so lower operating costs are probably higher on most buyers lists than 0-60 times or how many G’s it will pull in the turn.

    It might have been nice if you would have taken the time to mention what tires are on it since you say they are so bad. I would expect a LRR tire and a better set of tires is an easy fix. Yes you’ll pay a MPG penalty but it isn’t that bad. I put Pilot Sport A/S 3 on the wife’s cars and they do cost between 1~2mpg. For me it is a worthwhile tradeoff but certainly not for all.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I can ping Ford — I forgot to note the brand and it’s not listed on the paperwork as far as I can see. And yes, for sure it’s possible to put grippier tires on for 1-2 mpg in penalty.

      To be clear, I was pushing pretty hard when the tires got slidy. Most people will not ever get to that point.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The Michelin Energy Saver A/S that seem to be the default for efficiency cars—that came from the factory on both my C-Max Energi and my Bolt—have both terrible grip and a hard ride.

      I can’t wait until they wear out on the Bolt and I can replace them with something that’s better in at least one of those respects.

      • 0 avatar
        Add Lightness

        If you want to change the tires to a grippier ones, take the OEMs off when new and sell them on Craigslist or whatever. There is a solid market for LRR tires as most owners are frugal and want the better fuel economy and they are not cheap new.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      As much as I like the Ford hybrid drivetrain, I can’t fathom how you could get 40 EV miles from a C-Max Energi. I’m a smooth, even slow driver, and I’m lucky to get 20 miles from a charge. The final result, a 60 MPG average, is good enough for me- mainly because the car is NOT slow, as the reviewer claims. BTW, when I replaced the EnergySavers with Michelin runflats, my fuel economy took a bigger hit, from 70 MPG to 60 MPG.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The Escape PHEV is claiming 37 miles of EV range where the C-Max Energi only claimed 19-20 depending on year. Most of this is because it has a bigger battery than the C-Max (14.4 vs. 8 kWh).

        As a former C-Max Energi owner I can tell you that that difference would have cut our usage of the gas engine by more than half.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Sorry reading it again I didn’t make it clear that it is the upcoming Escape that was talking about that has a near 40 mile EV range. The official rating is 37 as DAL noted. It does have a larger capacity battery pack than was used in the Energi cars.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The new Escape was timed perfectly to suffer the worst damage from Cost-Cutting Jim. Its interior really is not class-competitive in terms of material quality or looks. I hope there is a mid-cycle correction soon.

    The 2.0L generation of this powertrain was truly excellent in terms of reliability and durability. I hope the 2.5L does similarly well.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    This vehicle is on a three to five year death watch……

  • avatar
    detlump

    $35K for a bland grocery getter? I was expecting maybe $25K or $27K tops. So many other choices.

    For me personally, I would rather have a Ridgeline Sport for $35K. I’m not driving that much at all these days or in the future, working from home.

    Who cares about fuel economy when you drive 40 miles a week? I’m more concerned with keeping a trickle charger on the battery!

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The Truth About Automotive Photography:

    Is this an attractive vehicle? We’re not sure – even a great vehicle would not look very good in these pictures.

    We will focus for now on exterior shots only.

    First picture: 3/4 angle is good – nice work. But the background is too cluttered, and we see too much of the background (detracting from the car) because we should step back and zoom in. Try x3.0 zoom on your smartphone to start with if that is the tool you are using. C-

    Third picture: Standing too close (with the wrong ‘focal length’ – zoom in), give us the “ginormous schnoz” effect. Too much of the background again. I feel dizzy – is the deck listing? The unfortunate Ford stylists who got stuck working on this vehicle have a vein in their neck about to burst as they view this picture. D-

    Fifth picture: Angle is not horrible. Again, zoom in (back up), and clean up the framing. C-

    Sixth picture: “97% head on” is almost never the most flattering angle for any backside. Shift to more of a rear 3/4 view (even partway there would help). Back up, zoom in, framing. Focus your audience on the vehicle, not the setting or the background. We also get your own reflection in this angle, which is distracting. D-

    These are copyrighted automotive photographs on a commercial website. That makes you a professional automotive photographer. How high a standard do you want to set?

    [I don’t need to hear you explain all the reasons why – if you want to spill the ink here go for it (I wouldn’t, but if it makes you feel better I won’t reply – you will have the last word). And yes I know there is a lag from when you took the pictures to publication date. My ‘harshness’ setting with these comments is at 3/10 – and the grading is lax – getting soft in my old age.]

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    This is a shining example of the new Ford. Poor styling, cheap interior, corner cut everywhere and anything resembling quality is nowhere to be found.

    And now they are building a butch version of this with the same issues and low level of quality. Ford is a ship without a rudder.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      I agree. Does Ford really care about any vehicle other than the F150?

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        F-250 Sedan: youtu.be/0Juta1cCoxY

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        “I agree. Does Ford really care about any vehicle other than the F150?”

        It’s becoming increasingly clear that even the F150 is subject to extreme cost cutting. With having to hold numerous batches for “further quality checks”, never ending issues with the 10-speed, and now extreme rust on underside components before they even hit the dealer lots, you really wonder what the end game is. Basic quality is absent but thank god we have over designed seats that recline a a Rube Goldberg shifter. That they found money for.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Then there’s the rumored pre-chamber ignition with compressed air technology. They should start printing the recall notices for that one now. You know it’s going to be a disaster. Just to get one or two MPGs. A slow-moving train wreck.

          https://www.motortrend.com/news/ford-f-150-prechamber-ignition-research/

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          If Ford is being stingy with rustproofing, then they are being stingy with everything. In this age nothing should leave the factory without sufficient corrosion protection. (Chinese vehicles, however, are another story.)

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            You’re being silly. When brake calipers, rotors, (live) axles, etc, come painted, it’s simply for cosmetic reasons.

            And I’m Ford’s 2nd biggest critic around here. But let’s get real, show where any of those parts have rusted through on Fords or any make excluding Toyotas, 10 to 20+ years later. Ford has been leaving the same parts unpainted since I was a kid.

            If it’s Chinese steel, alright. But I’m positive those come painted, if not an extra heavy coat.

            The parts are where the paint is gonna get chipped up
            anyway, and look worse with rust on every spot it was chipped. Or the thousands of heat cycles will flake the paint or powder coat.

            You know what you’re getting if it’s left unpainted

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “You’re being silly. When brake calipers, rotors, (live) axles, etc, come painted, it’s simply for cosmetic reasons.”

            This is different. The amount of rust on the underside of new F150s that have just been delivered to dealers is far more than just cosmetic.

            Which is why Ford is looking into the issue. It takes a lot to get Ford to take care of anything quality related but when it involves the F150 (the only vehicle that keeps the lights on), says a lot.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The only issue is public relations. The general population sees the color rust and they fully freak.

            It’s tough to explain what I just did (above), to house wives, dentists, school teachers and such that know absolutely nothing about the properties of thick (domestic) steel and its relation to surface rust.

            So Ford puts out a “We’re looking into it…” pacifier.

            Yes exposed steel parts surface-rust instantly, so it’s completely irrelevant that they’re brand new trucks.

            Fifty years later, you can hit those parts with a wire brush, sand blast, etc, and they’re ready to primer and paint, if that’s what you’re into.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “The only issue is public relations…”

            “Yes exposed steel parts surface-rust instantly”

            Again, this is not the usual surface rust. Far worse.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Goofy then? How can the rust be far worse (than surface)? Structural? And by the time it hits the showroom?

            You know absolutely nothing on the topic. Name one part. One that will need to be replaced soon, from rust. In 10 years? 50 years?

            You can’t. But check out the “rusted” water pump on the Maverick’s (article pic) 302 V8. Yes raw steel, never painted. How old you think it is? How is it any different than unpainted brake parts, live axles, exhaust pipes etc?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Hackett is gone. I hope that means the extreme cost-cutting will get better. Of course, for you, Ford will never get better, but in the real world it’s not that simple.

  • avatar
    bobmaxed

    Just finished shopping for one of these Hybrids as a family vehicle. I found this site and the internet in general a bit useless because I was looking for a base model. A vehicle without oversized wheels, sun roofs, leather seats and all the other bells and whistles that come with the top trim level. Honda(cr-v) and Toyota (rabid4) had one hybrid to test drive (Top trim) and no base models to sell. My Ford dealer was able to find a 2020 SE sport hybrid with 17 inch wheels and cloth seats about two hours away. Price was a little under $30,000
    I found it hard to tell the difference between the compact hybrids I drove.
    Happy with the Ford so far.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      The best testimonial for Toyota?
      Just watch the news from the middle east and see what the guys who don’t have satellite phones to call for help drive.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “unless fuel economy really matters to you, the gasser will likely serve you better”

    Why is that? Does the gasser have a different or better interior, or dramatically better handling? Or are you saying that the premium for the hybrid isn’t really worth it?

    It’s interesting to see that this car’s electric drive has exactly the same power as my Ioniq EV. Except that 88 kW is everything it has to give.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    “88 kWh electric motor”? “200 hp”? Using the official conversion, to the energy equivalent of kWh in gasoline, you wrote “2.63 gallon electric motor”. kWh is *energy*, not *power*. If you meant “88 kW electric motor”, that is equivalent to 118 hp, not 200 hp. It’s really not hard to get this right, so please do so.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    This escape is a huge improvement over the last generation escape. The Ford hybrid drivetrain has also improved. This would have been a great vehicle before the latest Rav4 and CRV generations were released. That is the problem. Ford’s escape is behind the current competition. It is always behind. They need to invest more money into product development and engineering to catch the competition.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I’ve driven this and the hybrid RAV4 and in terms of the drive, the Ford felt a little more car like. They were both a bore to drive, so other than price, the resale value is what will be the big difference.

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