The fourth generation Ford Escape comes to us all-new for 2020 redesigned and resigned as a more mainstream model. This is to say with now the absence of the Ford Focus and Fusion cars from showrooms, the Escape now becomes the middle of the road car from Ford.
Middle of the road is exactly what we got too. Styling comes across much more tame than the previous generation Escape, its character, lines, creases and details sanded off and made less edgy. It appeals less in our opinion and to Ford’s end likely offends less the sensibilities of those who just want a car to get them there. Perhaps that is who Ford’s buyers are.
The interior further takes the route of the rental grade chariot, dumbed down from the last Escape with less style, less feature character, and seemly less feature content for the money. We call this “de-contenting” in the car industry.
Our tester’s cabin came with cheap feeling vinyl seating surfaces at $34,540, dull almond plastic reminiscent of 1980’s computer or hospital equipment, and seats as comfortable as hospital beds. No matter how much adjusting was done, their over-stuffed spongy feel and downsized proportions were difficult to sit on long.
The previously lauded SYNC 3 infotainment system too in our Escaped seemed to be reeled in, slower to respond to our touch and instruction than we have been used to – as if the computing power has been decreased. It too sometime seconds to respond to touch comments and menu changes. The audio quality was less than expected too at this price.
Power from its optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine however did not disappoint. The engine has been a bright light in the Ford lineup for sometime with now 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque delivered through a decently tuned 8-speed automatic transmission.
More power than many of its peers offer is a nice talking point but the driving experience is thoroughly ruined by its annoying and unrefined engine idle-stop-start system. Yes it can be turned off but you must every time you get in the car. Fail.
Handling and chassis were mid-grade. Tuning is not sporty and charismatic, much in line with its styling and overall character. It’s good enough for Avis, Dollar, and Budget. If you want something better than average look to Honda, Toyota, Mazda or Nissan just to name a few.