The Ford Escape is a compact crossover vehicle sold by Ford since 2000 over three generations. Ford released the original model in 2000 for the 2001 model year. Powertrains were supplied by Mazda with respect to the base inline-four engine, with Ford providing the optional V6. The first iteration Escape remains notable as the first SUV to offer a hybrid drivetrain option, released in 2004 for the 2005 model year to North America.
First generation (2000–2006)
In North America, it slotted below the larger, truck-based Explorer in Ford’s lineup, but was larger than the small SUV offerings from Honda and Toyota. Although it is technically a crossover vehicle, it is marketed by Ford as part of its traditional SUV lineup (Escape, Explorer, Expedition) rather than its separate crossover lineup (Edge, Flex).
Crash test results for the Escape have been mixed. In the New Car Assessment Program administered by the USA-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the car received five out of five stars for driver protection and four out of five stars for passenger protection in a 35 mph frontal impact. The SUV received five stars for both driver and rear passenger in the side impact test. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 40 mph frontal offset test, 2001–2004 Escapes received a score of “Marginal”. In the side impact crash test, vehicles equipped with the optional side air bags received a score of “Good” in the 31 mph, while those without the optional air bags received a score of “Poor”.
All Escapes are equipped with a passive immobilizer called SecuriLock. This feature includes an RFID chip embedded in the key which is read by the car each time the vehicle is started. If the vehicle fails to receive a valid confirmation signal from the key, the vehicle will not run, even if the key is perfectly cut to match the original. Theft, injury, and collision losses reported to insurance companies for the Escape are among the lowest in its class.
The Escape was updated in 2004 for the 2005 model year with a new base engine the 2.3L Duratec, which replaced the Zetec 2.0L 127 hp 4-cylinder. The most powerful engine remained the 200 hp Duratec 3.0L V6, with new engine mounts. Ford also added advanced airbag and seatbelt safety systems, an intelligent AWD system, and exterior changes, which included a redesigned front bumper. The 2005 model year was the first with an automatic transmission available on the base four-cylinder models. The automatic shifter was moved from the column to the console on all models equipped with automatic transmissions. Ford also deleted the recline feature on the rear seats to improve the safety of occupants in the rear seats in the case of a rear crash.
The model range was also simplified, with only a single specification available. Changes to the body included an all-new front bumper, grille, headlights and bonnet, featuring an enlarged Ford emblem set upon a three-bar chrome grille. At the rear, new, slimmer tail lights were featured, which were arranged horizontally, rather than vertically. In addition, the B-pillar was now painted black, rather than body-colour. Compared with the previous model, all external bumpers, mirrors, and cladding were painted the same colour as the body (previously, this was only available on the upscale Limited model). Equipment levels have also improved. Compared to the base model ZC Escape, the ZD included standard side airbags, automatic climate control, 16″ alloy wheels, and mirrors with integrated indicators. Unlike most other competitors in its class, curtain airbags and electronic stability control were not available.
The Ford Escape Hybrid is the gasoline-electric hybrid powered version, launched in the U.S. in 2004 for the 2005 model year, to offset the pollution resulting from non-hybrid SUV use. The Ford Escape Hybrid was the first American-built hybrid and the first hybrid vehicle from an American automaker, joined by the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra Hybrids during the same model year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the first generation Ford Escape Hybrid is 70% more efficient than the regular Escape.
Escape hybrid versions can be identified by the “Hybrid” badges located on the front driver’s and passenger’s doors as well as near the right tailgate. In addition, the driver’s side window in the cargo area is smaller in size in order to accommodate a ventilation slot for the high voltage battery. There was also a “Special Appearance Package” available as an option on the 2005–2007 Hybrid models. This package replaced the traditional lower cladding of the Escape with a silver finish. Standard equipment on the Escape Hybrid includes: an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, cruise control, a six-CD stereo, 16-inch alloy wheels, power door locks with remote keyless entry, and power windows.
Ford built 17,000 Escape Hybrids in the second half of 2004, four times as many as it had originally planned. Starting in 2005 New York City and other cities in the world began using the Ford Escape Hybrid as taxicabs. The Ford Escape Hybrid won the North American Truck of the Year award in 2005.
The Escape Hybrid is a full hybrid, meaning the system can switch automatically between pure electric power, pure gasoline engine power, or a combination of electric battery and gasoline engine operating together, for maximum performance and efficiency at all speeds and loads. When braking or decelerating, the Escape’s hybrid system uses regenerative braking, where the electric drive motor becomes a generator, converting the vehicle’s momentum back to electricity for storage in the batteries. The Escape Hybrid’s 133 hp gasoline I4 engine and electric motor combine to give 155 hp, which gives the Hybrid Escape has nearly the same acceleration performance as the conventional 200 hp V6 Escape due to the electric motor’s torque being available from zero rpm.
The hybrid is said to give approximately 75% greater efficiency, the FWD version has EPA ratings of 30 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. The AWD version EPA ratings 28 city and 26 highway, and has demonstrated it can travel 400–500 miles on a single 15.0 gallon tank. To obtain these mileage figures, the owners manual states that pure gasoline, not ethanol blends, must be used. Unlike conventional vehicles, hybrids often achieve better figures in the city because they do not waste power idling and can recover some power when stopping (by using regenerative braking) that would be wasted in a conventional vehicle.
Second generation (2007–2012)
The second generation Ford Escape debuted at the 2006. The North American-market Escape was redesigned in order to stay competitive with other new compact SUVs, however most of the internals have been carried over for the 2008 model year. Ford also included an electronic stability control system standard on the 2008 Escape.
The updated Escape received some styling cues from the Explorer, Edge, and Expedition. Changes include a new grille with larger headlamps in the front fascia, while the sides were revised with cleaner lines and rounder wheel arches. The interior is also completely redesigned, including the newest standard Ford family navigation system.
The 2008 Escape was the first vehicle to feature Ford’s pull-drift steering compensation, an enhancement made possible by applying software control to the Electric Power Steering (EPS) system. Ford’s new 6-speed 6F automatic replaced the previous 4-speed automatic on both the I4 and V6 models. The 2.3L Duratec 23 was replaced by a new 2.5L Duratec 25, which boosted standard power to 171 hp and 171 lb·ft of torque, while increasing fuel economy by 1 mpg. The optional 3.0L Duratec 30 V6 was thoroughly updated, resulting in a 40 hp increase, bringing power output to 240 hp and 233 lb·ft of torque. The Duratec 30 also sees a 1 mpg-US fuel economy improvement.
The Hybrid is also upgraded to use the 2.5L. Efficiency improved to 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway according to the USEPA. The 2.5L engine brings the Hybrid’s power output up by 22 hp when the electric motor is added in.
Other mechanical changes include a new 18.5 mm rear stabilizer bar, revised suspension tuning, upgrades to the 3.0L V6 that brought power to 240 hp, and a new exhaust system on all Escapes. The braking system for the Hybrid versions has been revised with a vacuum assist unit that reviewers have said give the brakes a consistent feel over the entire travel of the brake pedal. Previous versions of the Hybrid were reported to have a slightly mushy brake feel, primarily due to the fact that for the first part of the brake travel and braking the system is regenerating power instead of engaging the brake pads against the rotors.
The Escape underwent some minor aerodynamic changes for 2009, including a revised front chin spoiler and rear tire spoilers. Along with the addition of rear tire spoilers is an optional 17″ chrome-clad wheel equipped with a new Michelin “Low-Rolling-Resistance-Tire”, slightly increasing ground clearance and improving traction over the standard 16″ wheels and tires. Another new feature is Ford’s Easy-Fuel capless fuel filling system.
Optional features for 2010: active park assist (APA) is a new feature available as an option on the 2010 Ford Escape Limited. Active Park Assist will detect an available parallel parking space and automatically steer the vehicle into the space (hands free) while the driver controls the accelerator, gearshift and brakes. The system will visually and audibly instruct the driver to park the vehicle. Active Park Assist system uses sensors on the front and rear of the vehicle to guide the vehicle into a parking space. Rear-view camera system – uses an exterior camera embedded in the rear of the vehicle that sends images to a video display in the rearview mirror or the navigation system screen to help enhance visibility directly behind the vehicle when it is in reverse.
Previously unavailable Electronic Stability Control system became standard on the second generation. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests the Escape was rated “Good” in both frontal and side impact crash tests. They were also rated “Good” for rear crash protection as well and were given the “Top Safety Pick” award until 2010. In roof strength tests the Escape received a “Marginal” rating while hybrid models are rated “Poor”.
The 2009 Ford Escape has a 2.5-liter engine and 6-speed automatic transmission that replaced the four-speed automatic transmission, the new powertrain improved the EPA fuel economy by 1 mile per gallon and increased power to 170 hp. Also, the existing 3.0-liter Duratec V6 was bumped from 200 hp to 240 hp. The new engine was also the new basis for Ford’s hybrid models, including the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid.
The second generation Ford Escape Hybrid received some styling tweaks inside and out. The major cosmetic changes included a new bumpers, grille, headlights and taillights to match Ford’s new edge style. But the drivetrain was essentially the same mechanically but has had extensive software modifications. For 2009, a larger, more powerful engine was introduced, together with a revised suspension, addition of stability control, the debut of “Sync” voice-control system and a capless fuel filler system. The batteries and other hybrid components in a 2009 Escape hybrid added about 300 lbs to the vehicle. However, the added weight was blamed for an adverse effect in handling. Furthermore, from 2009 onward, rear disc brakes of previous years were swapped for drum brakes, which was criticized as a “strange step backward”.
The second generation Escape Hybrid was offered in two levels of specification, an undesignated base model and the more expensive “Limited” trim. The base included: a 60/40 split-fold rear bench seat, AdvanceTrac with roll stability control, and a single-disc four-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with Sirius Satellite Radio compatibility. The “Limited” adds: a chrome front grille, heated front seats, a six-way power driver’s seat and full leather upholstery, rear park assist, ambient lighting, and 16-inch six-spoke alloy wheels. For the 2009 model year, Ford SYNC became standard on both Hybrid trims and the Ford Escape Hybrid replaced the “ESCAPE” badges on doors with “HYBRID,” while relocating the logo for Ford hybrid models from near the driver’s side doors next to the “HYBRID” text. 2010 models saw the addition of MyKey, trailer sway controls, and integrated spotter mirror for better blind spot viewing. New optional extras are active park assist and a rear-view camera. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated the fuel economy for the 2010 Escape Hybrid (FWD) at 34 mpg city, and 31 mpg highway.
By early 2012 Ford discontinued the production of the Escape Hybrid due to the introduction of the third generation Escape. Two of the new 2013 model year Escapes have direct-injected and turbocharged EcoBoost units (of 1.6 and 2.0 liters) that deliver a higher fuel economy than the 2012 model.
Third generation (2012–present)
Based on the new Global C platform, the third generation Escape is a rebadged Ford Kuga, designed in Europe. Two EcoBoost inline four-cylinder turbocharged engines are offered. The basic engine is a 2.5L naturally-aspirated I4. The new Escape is the first Ford vehicle to offer a new 1.6-liter unit. In the process of revamping the Escape’s engine lineup, both the Hybrid model with its 2.5-liter Atkinson powertrain and the 3.0-liter V6 engine have been dropped. Ford claims that the fuel economy of the new 1.6L EcoBoost engine will match that of the previous Ford Escape Hybrid, while the new 2.0-liter engine produces more horsepower than the current V6 unit. The transmission is a six-speed automatic. The new generation of the Ford Escape is 10% more aerodynamic than the previous generation.
On November 18, 2015, Ford unveiled a re-freshened update of the Escape, which will go on sale in early 2016 as a 2017 model. The refresh added an Edge-inspired front fascia while tweaking the rear end that now sports reshaped LED taillights and a newly adopted two-slat, hexagonal grille. The interior is also adjusted slightly in the cabin area and on the steering wheel. The Sync 3 infotainment system is added as a new feature, along with a new smartphone app called Sync Connect, which allows owners to remotely monitor their vehicle, check fuel levels, lock and unlock doors, and start the engine. The 2.5 and 2.0 EcoBoost engine lineup will be joined by a new 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder option, replacing the 1.6L.
Ford engineers promise additional refinement to the 2017 Escape, particularly as evidenced by extremely low road- and wind-noise levels. The doors and B-pillars are insulated, the front wheel wells lined and acoustic glass used for the side windows. There are also new seals for the windshield and hood. The new Escape will showcase a number of new-to-it features from little things like faster charging USB ports to an app that lets you unlock the vehicle and start the engine through your smartphone. Dubbed Sync Connect, this feature will also help you locate the vehicle in a crowded parking lot, check the fuel level and be alerted when service is due. A number of driver-assist features will be available: enhanced park assist, lane-keeping, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.