The Ford Escape, in its Titanium trim, with the bonus of being equipped with a self-charging hybrid engine manages to capture the two ends of the compact SUV buyer spectrum.
With its eco-friendly drive train and upgraded interior it manages to attract those that are fuel-conscious and are looking to upgrade to a more comfortable compact SUV. The Titanium trim level certainly offers an upgraded interior as well as a plethora of safety and tech enhancements and having a self-charging hybrid engine certainly helps with fuel economy. If this is what Ford had intended this particular Escape to do it has ticked off all the boxes. But, there is another emerging car buyer that is also attracted to the Escape in this form – downsizers.
Not all people are looking to upgrade to a larger and more powerful vehicle as they go through life. There is a point when a full-sized SUV becomes an inconvenience to some, the kids have moved on or are in their own cars, parking spots at the mall appear to be getting smaller and maneuvering in tighter city streets becomes more of a hassle than it is worth.
But saying that, downsizers, while willing to be content with a smaller vehicle with less power, are certainly not willing to give up their creature comforts. They still demand all the electronic and safety enhancements that they have become accustomed to in a larger SUV. And the hybrid engine certainly shows a bit of social and environmental responsibility as well.
Again, the Escape Platinum Hybrid manages to tick all the boxes for this particular buyer as well.
The 2020 model has matured from its boxy and sharp-edged predecessors. The body is now smooth and flowing with no sharp edges anywhere, and its attractive and stylish looks make it both appealing to the eye and to the compact SUV buyer.
The Titanium Hybrid trim comes standard with a 2.5 L inline 4-cylinder engine that runs on the Atkinson Cycle to reduce fuel consumption. Linked to the engine is an electric 88 kW electric motor that draws its power from a water-cooled 1.4 kW/hr lithium-ion battery that is neatly hidden-away outside of the cabin under the rear seating. An Electronic Continuous Variable Transmission (eCVT) puts the power down to the road through an intelligent AWD system.
The upgraded cabin fit and finish is what differentiates the Titanium interior from the lower trim levels. Upgraded leather seating and wooden dash accents give the Titanium a more expensive feel and look. The new 12.3-inch full digital instrument cluster is bright and easy to read, and can be easily configured to the driver’s personal preferences. The dash is uncluttered with all controls within easy reach. The leather-covered steering wheel is adorned with numerous controls from controlling the radio, phone and cruise control which eliminates the need to take your hands off the wheel and keeps your eyes on the road.
A Head-Up Display (HUD) is a nice addition that projects a crisp image and is easy to read. A new wireless charging pad has been added a well.
The spacious interior is enhanced by a panoramic sunroof giving plenty of light to both seating rows and the battery pack is well hidden and doesn’t appear to intrude into the cabin. The interior, while cozy, certainly isn’t cramped especially for a compact SUV.
The rear seats offer enough space for three passengers to travel in comfort.
The Titanium trim level comes with a wide range of standard equipment that would normally come at an additional cost. Ford Co-Pilot360 is a group of driver-assist technologies that includes pre-collision assist, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot assist with cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, rearview camera and auto high-beam headlights.
Co-Pilot360 Assist+ adds adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, lane centering and voice-activated navigation. A new upgraded Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker sound system is standard as is Fords Sync3 system SiriusXM satellite radio and FordPass Connect – an app that you can connect with the Escape from a smartphone.
Driving a Hybrid, in days gone by, was always predictable, you could feel and hear when the changeover between battery power and the gas engine took place: you would feel a jolt and the engine noise was very noticeable. This is not the case with this Escape.
The hybrid system worked flawlessly and the engine, at low speeds, was quiet making it difficult telling when the power switch was taking place. I am not a big fan of CVT’s but this one was quiet and smooth with no high squeal at the top of the rev range. Getting up to highway speeds was smooth and uncomplicated, and the boost given by the electric motor helped getting there a bit quicker. It does take some driving style adjustment to be able to take full advantage of the hybrid system, but if you are not into hypermiling the Escape handles just like its gasoline engine siblings. If you are new to driving a hybrid Ford has even added a Hybrid tutorial into the system that evaluates your driving techniques and gets you to change how you drive and brake to benefit from the hybrid system.
I did notice at highway speeds that road noise was noticeable, but not enough to be intrusive. This could have been because of how quiet the engine was or more likely the surface of the road. And this particular Escape had the optional AWD system that will add a feeling of security when the winter weather sets in.
I did drive the Escape for a couple of days following the hybrid assist tutorial and it made me more aware of my driving technique. It became a bit of a competition to see how much I could keep within the parameters of the tutorial and I really did notice a difference in fuel economy. Even when I drove it like a regular gas engine car I did notice that I wasn’t visiting the gas station as much as I normally would.
I can see why the Escape Titanium Hybrid attracts two different groups of buyers. The fuel-sipping hybrid drive train is a no brainer when trying to reduce your carbon footprint. The suite of standard equipment that comes at this trim level certainly attracts those looking for a compact SUV to upgrade to, and for those that want the technical safety aspects as well as the comfort levels they are accustomed to, but in a smaller package.