2020 Ford Escape Hybrid SE Sport Review - Mixed Bag

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

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.

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.

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.

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.

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]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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2 of 32 comments
  • Jimmyy Jimmyy on Apr 04, 2021

    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.

  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Apr 05, 2021

    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.

  • Urlik GDI engines emit 5 to 10 times the particulate matter that PFI engines emit. The particles are not just carbon either.
  • Pgb65773699 I enjoyed it, it is what you expect , funny
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  • Alan Like all testing and analysis work you need a good set of requirements. If you don't you'll find or end up with gaps.