The Escape CUV has been good for Ford.
The automaker sells a lot of them (241,388 in the U.S. last year, according to Wards Intelligence.) And demographically, the compact ute attracts many relatively young buyers.
If you are a so-called “visual” person, this vehicle is a sure draw, particularly for the richness of its displayed imagery, from navigation maps to gauge readings to the high-definition back-up camera. These graphical elements help the Escape win a 2020 Wards 10 Best UX trophy.
The displays are a high point of the vehicle in the eyes of Wards judges.
“The digital cluster and the touchscreen both have incredible resolution and clarity,” judge Christie Schweinsberg says of the’20 Ford Escape plug-in hybrid electric vehicle we tested.
Judge Tom Murphy admires the almost 3-D effect of the digital instrument cluster.
“Ford nails the displays,” says judge James Amend, citing among other things “zero glare and rich details.”
Ambient blue lighting is in door-handle wells and rings the bottom of the cupholders. Buttons are backlit in the same alluring glow.
But the vehicle’s winning features go beyond “What you see is what you get.”
Smartphone pairing is a breeze. And fast. That's something to phone home about.
The Sync 3 infotainment system shows its stuff. Ford had problems with earlier versions. The original MyFord Sync was clunky and so complicated the automaker spiffed dealership salespeople to explain to customers how it worked.
Those days are over.
Sync 3 is easy to use and compatible with available features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Ford+Alexa and Waze navigation.
New for this model is a 575-watt 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with subwoofers. That’s high-end audio for a mass-market vehicle.
Ford uses traditional knobs and dials to complement touchscreen functions. A gear-shifter dial is handily atop the center console. Temperature and audio knobs are easy to reach and use.
There are lots of (but not too many) buttons on the steering wheel, including one to bring up assorted head-up display controls and options. The HUD provides driver information in crisp, high-def imagery. “Thank you, Ford!” Schweinsberg says of that feature.
The Escape comes with Ford Co-Pilot360 with driver-assist features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane-Centering and Evasive Steering Assist. There’s also Voice-Activated Navigation with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link.
Also available is the class-exclusive Active Park Assist 2.0. Brake to a stop, put the vehicle in neutral, hold down the active assist park button and the vehicle does the rest, even for tight parallel parking.
“Wow, lots of great ADAS for this price point,” says Amend. “ACC works flawlessly with stop and go, and lane keeping guides you back to the center quickly and smoothly, very human-like.”
Not all lane-keeping systems rate so well. In a J.D. Power consumer survey, spotty performance by such systems was a No.1 complaint in the driver-assist category.
FordPass Connect provides 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 mobile devices with compatible wireless subscription service. An 8-in. (20-cm) touchscreen shares information with the 12.3-in. (31-cm) all-digital instrument cluster.
Voice commands are readily understood and results quickly pop up. Ask the system to take you to, say, the local city hall, and its address, phone number, map location and a start-route prompt appear on the screen.
The panoramic roof reaches from front to back, covering a lot of territory. It’s a $1,495 option. Front seats adjust in 10 different ways. Rear seats slide backward for more occupant legroom or forward for more cargo space.
This vehicle is the Great Escape.
An industry person says, “If I’m Goldielocks trying out an SUV, the Escape has always been one that felt ‘just right.’” Right on.