Believe it or not, the Ford Escape has been around for over two decades. It is currently in its fourth generation, with the current suppository-like styling first blighting landscapes in 2019. Now, the Blue Oval has gifted it a midcycle refresh, installing new engines and a face that no longer looks like a rolling tribute to the noble lungfish.
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.
I was running an errand earlier this week and spotted a Ford Bronco Sport street parked on Chicago’s famed State Street. Coincidentally, I had just tested one off-road a bit over a week prior.
The baby Bronco impressed me on our first drive, despite some flaws. And our own Adam Tonge has argued that the Escape-based Bronco Sport may spell the end of the line for the venerable crossover that lends it its platform.
Ever since I found one of the very last Oldsmobiles in a Denver car graveyard, I’ve been keeping my junkyard eye open for other final-year-of-marque Detroit machinery. We’ve got the 1998 Eagle, the 2001 Plymouth, and the 2010 Pontiac, and now it’s time for one of the very last vehicles to wear the Mercury badge: this 2011 Mariner Premier.
As vehicle production rates begin tipping back towards normalcy, the pandemic continues to rattle supply chains. The wheels of industry may be in motion, but they’re not yet in sync — making a comeback difficult for some players.
Ford dealers report a shortage of replacement parts needed for repairs, with some components taking over to a month to arrive at service centers. Against this backdrop, the automaker issued a technical service bulletin telling dealers to check for coolant leaks in the cylinder head of the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engines found in the Escape (MY 2017-19) and Fusion (2014-19). The repair notice dropped in April, though Ford owners have complained about fluid leaks for a couple of years after a shocking number of owners noticed their engines were overheating — only to find that one of the cylinders was hoovering coolant.
Ford cautioned that some of its American assembly plants could be put on ice as early as next week, as shortages persist at a Mexican plant still not running at full capacity.
The potential engine shortages stemming from coronavirus fears at Ford’s Chihuahua Engine Plant and in the surrounding countryside would stymie production of key Ford products, including the new-for-2020 Super Duty line.
Hybrid War: Ford Touts Escape Plug-in As Efficiency King, but Toyota Has Two Things It Wants to Tell You
In the compact crossover segment, at least, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choice. And making inroads into this enormously popular crowd is plug-in hybrid power — a feature added to two major players this year: the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4.
As efficiency numbers trickle out, Ford is claiming victory over its rival, though which of the two models ultimately boasts the most appeal will be borne out in future sales figures.
Ford’s effort to generate two streams of customers for its Escape compact crossover by splitting the model into two nameplates, each with a distinct persona, is well underway, with the brawnier of the two bound for an April debut.
Unofficially, that debut is today, as leaked images have hit the web of an unclothed Bronco Sport, aka “Baby Bronco.”
Do not adjust your dial. Despite all appearances to the contrary, you have not been magically transported back in time to halfway through the Obama administration. Yes, we know the design of this venerable website hasn’t changed significantly since then, but you have to trust us on this one – it is indeed late 2019, and yet I’m driving a cab from 2012.
It’s the 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid Taxi, fresh from service on the mean streets of New York City, and with over four hundred thousand miles on the original hybrid powertrain. It’s been stripped of the meter and medallion, of course – can’t have shrimp-eating journalists trying to double-dip by hacking while being a hack – but otherwise is very close to how it rolled into Ford’s care a few months back.
It’s a marketing stunt, to be certain. Ford is using one of its oldest, highest-mileage hybrids to sell journalists and the general public on the durability of this solution to electrified motoring. I’m here to say that, while I was skeptical of this stunt, I’m now a believer.
The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid faces the same problem as its gas-engined sibling: Styling.
That’s the bad news for Ford. The good news is that this particular hybrid doesn’t sacrifice too much of the gas Escape’s fun-to-drive factor in the search for better fuel economy.
Ford says it is eventually going to phase out most of its cars – save the Mustang – but the brand isn’t above basing a compact crossover on a car platform.
Yeah, it may be called a crossover, especially by people who draw paychecks from the Blue Oval, but the 2020 Ford Escape is based on the company’s European Focus platform.
Perhaps it’s a bit of a cynical approach, especially with a more rugged “baby Bronco” on the way. But if ride and handling are something you care about, even when shopping crossovers, the results may be pleasing to you.
Possibly more pleasing than the Escape’s styling, anyway.
Ford’s Escape has become the bread and butter of many Blue Oval dealership across the nation, usurping Explorer as the default choice for most families that choose to wander onto a Ford lot in search of an SUV or crossover. Sales have routinely hovered around the 300,000 mark for each of the last eight years.
The 2020 rethink, complete with styling apparently inspired by a Salofalk suppository, brings a solid amount of skin to this cutthroat segment, deploying new hybrid tech and all manner of driver assist technology. Its build and price tool is now live, allowing us a peek at what it’ll cost the Smith family to trade up.
Ford is anything but a conversation killer these days. Love their ideas or hate them, the boys and girls at the Blue Oval seem pretty confident that they know what works in the near automotive future.
One ploy is the bold step of splitting a model in two. No longer will one mainstream crossover attempt to be most things to most people. Instead, you’ll get the Escape, newly urbanized for the 2020 model year, and a similar-sized (but not shaped) platform mate gunning for a more rugged set of buyers. Two vehicles, one brand, one segment.
If this becomes a trend, where should it strike next?
Ford unveiled the all-new 2020 Escape in dramatic fashion by turning the fabulous Henry Ford Museum’s Greenfield Village into “Escapeville.” The automaker seated members of the media on bleachers, but in a moment of trickery, it turned out said bleachers were mobile (insert Jim Hackett “mobility” joke here), and as they moved rearward, the Escape moved out from under sheets (Ed. note — This sentence has been changed to provide clarification. The original wording incorrectly implied that the Escape drove out from under the bleachers). Quite the effort, but it shows how important the Escape is, especially to Ford’s sedan-free future.
Initial press reaction to the Escape’s frontal appearance was, “huh … unexpectedly nice.” Following the moving bleacher introduction was a trip down a fictitious “Main St., USA,” with groups of actors playing out scenes of 2019 Americana, doing things that Americans do. Playing basketball. Unloading suitcases. Dancing, singing, and playing instruments. A man in camo returning home from war, presumably, with a dog that was being fed many treats to comply with his military master’s directions.
As we passed over an intersection, the first car left and three more entered our field of view. The whole town joined in celebration around the new Escapes as the music ended.
As we sat in the middle of a transformed Greenfield Village, I couldn’t help but wonder … is Ford trying to convey that the new Escape might be to today’s market what the Model T was to America a century ago?
Debuting in North America for the 2013 model year, the third-generation Ford Escape is getting long in the tooth, forced to compete against newer compact crossovers like the Chevrolet Equinox and Honda CR-V. Toyota’s RAV4 is all-new this year, too. And Dodge, well… Dodge still sells the Journey Abe Lincoln drove from rural Illinois to D.C.
Looking to cement its status in this white-hot segment, Ford has a fourth-generation Escape due out later this year. We’ll have full details for you on April 2nd (the media sneak peek was last week), but here’s something to tide you over.
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