Escape Hybrid Delivers Compact SUV Value

CHATHAM, Mass. – I was impressed with the redesigned 2023 Ford Escape compact sport-utility vehicle (SUV) when we drove it late last year and following a week in a hybrid-electric  Ford Escape ST-Line Elite Hybrid AWD (all-wheel-drive) version, our opinion has been reinforced.

The Elite Hybrid reference means the five-seat SUV is loaded with amenities, user conveniences and modern technology, starting with the hybrid powertrain.

Hybrid power means excellent fuel economy, good power

Ford built the Escape’s hybrid system around its 2.5-liter, aluminum-block-and-head, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder internal-combustion engine which produces 163 horsepower and 155 pounds-feet of torque. The Blue Oval folks added an 88kWh electric motor to the ICE, boosting the output of the powertrain to a robust 192 horsepower which flows through an electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) into a full-time AWD system.

This technology translates into a compact SUV capable of going from rest to 60 miles per hour (according to Motor Trend magazine’s testing) in 8.1 seconds.

It also, thanks to the AWD system, means it is ready to conquer the ever-changing road surfaces I encounter during the winter months in New England. While the Esca was parked in my driveway, we had our first measurable snow in two seasons. Not to worry, once I had cleaned the two inches of white stuff off the stylish small SUV, my partner and I were ready to go without any cares or worries.

The standard ADVANCE TRAC™with RSC® (roll-stability control) traction-control system further supplemented the AWD and the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS, outlined below) to make the driving on the wet, icy-in-some-spots, snow-covered-in-some-spots Cape Cod roads a sure-footed experience.

In addition to the powertrain’s good power output, the federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the Escape Hybrid AWD at 39 miles per gallon overall (42 urban, 36 highway). My results were 38.6 mpg overall but the figure was climbing as my week behind the wheel came to a close. I saw the figure climb from 34.6 mpg early in the week as I spend more time navigating the roads through Cape Cod towns like Chatham, Harwich, Dennis and Yarmouth.

The extreme cold during the week (temperatures well below freezing and in the low double and sometimes single digits overnight) negatively impacted the battery capabilities of the hybrid system, thus denigrating the overall fuel economy. Still excellent numbers compared to the average compact SUV.

Solid, effective platform

The Escape hybrid’s chassis components mirror those of the ICE version: MacPherson-type struts with stabilizer bar, twin-tube hydraulic gas-pressurized shocks at the front with Independent double lateral link semi-trailing arms with stabilizer bar, progressive-rate springs and hydraulic gas-pressurized shocks at the rear, all tuned for a sporting feel.

The power-assisted anti-lock (ABS) equipped brake system features 13-inch vented rotors up front and 11-inch solid ones in the rear.

The review vehicle came with 19-inch ebony-painted aluminum wheels shod with 225/55R19 99H All-Season (A/S) black-sidewall tires.

Modern technology brings extensive driver assistance systems

Standard on all levels of the redesigned Ford Escape is FORD CO-PILOT360™ collection of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) featuring auto high-beam headlamps; BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert; Lane-Keeping System (includes lane-keeping assist, lane-keeping alert and driver alert); Pre-Collision assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) (includes pedestrian detection, forward collision warning and dynamic brake support); rearview camera; post-collision braking, and Road Departure Warning.

The test unit added the optional ($1,910) Premium Technology Package which brought additional ADAS including active park assist 2.0; head-up display; 360° camera; rear-parking sensor; reverse-brake assist; intelligent cruise control with stop&go; speed-sign recognition; intersection assist, and evasive-steering assist.

Inside, the technology continues

Front and center inside the redesigned Escape Elite is the 13.2-inch touchscreen at the heart of the Ford SYNC™ 4 infotainment system, another feature of the Premium Technology Package. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; navigation; SiriusXM satellite radio and traffic information as well as streaming Bluetooth connectivity are all part of the infotainment package.

The ST-Line Elite trim brings red stitching to the power-adjustable front seats (10-way with lumbar support and memory for the driver, six-way for the front passenger) which are also heated; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated steering wheel; USB-A and -C ports front and rear; wireless charging pad; power liftgate, and auto-dimming interior rearview mirror.

Escape ST-Line hybrid delivers solid value

Driving the revamped Ford Escape ST-Line hybrid is enjoyable as well as economical. The powertrain and chassis pieces combined with the supportive, well-shaped seats produce a responsive, well-performing SUV with a comfortable ride for up to five occupants.

This Escape ST-Line Elite, which is comprehensively equipped, provides excellent value in the highly competitive compact-SUV segment. Its features are the equivalent of a premium offering with such touches as the head-up display, seat/mirror memory and extensive ADAS.

The redesigned Escape lineup ranges in price for 2024 from the $29,945 front-wheel-drive Escape Active to the $40,500 Escape Plug-in Hybrid (limited to front-wheel drive). The ST-Line Elite I tested carried a base price of $39,610 and an as tested price of $43,215 (including options and $1,495 destination charge).

The price, especially when combined with real-world 38-40 mpg fuel economy means the 2024 Ford Escape ST-Line Elite hybrid AWD is a terrific choice for anyone who needs or wants a compact SUV.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.