2022 Ford Escape Review | Hybrids are your best bet

2022 Ford Escape Review | Hybrids are your best bet

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You won't see the 2022 Ford Escape on our list of the best small SUVs. Quite simply, it's outdone by competitors that are more spacious, better to drive and have higher-quality interiors. "Mid-pack" would be the best description. "Close but no cigar" would be another.

There are some caveats to this lukewarm response, however. The Escape is one of only four compact SUVs that offer a hybrid powertrain, and one of only three available as a plug-in hybrid. At the same time, it also offers a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder that those same hybrid-offering competitors do not. As such, if you're looking for a hybrid (and we definitely suggest that) or a burlier engine option, the Escape suddenly finds itself higher in that pack and therefore more worthy of your consideration.

Interior & Technology | Passenger & Cargo Space | Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive | Pricing & Features | Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2022?

The Escape gets minor options updates and some new colors for 2022.

What are the Escape interior and in-car technology like?

We take a deep dive into the Escape interior's quality, technology, storage and space in this Escape Interior Driveway Test, so we'll only touch on the high and low points here.


Interior storage is plentiful and thoughtful, especially the area devoted to smartphones. The sliding back seat also adds versatility, though we'll touch on that more below and in our Escape Luggage Test. In terms of technology, all but the most basic Escape (pictured in the first slide above) comes with a large touchscreen that's easily seen and reached. It runs Ford's Sync 3 interface, which is technically previous-generation tech, but only the newest, fanciest Fords like the Mach-E, Bronco and F-150 are running Sync 4. In general, we like its clean, easily read graphics featuring large icons on a clean background. It does the basics well, and although we have nits to pick with its Apple CarPlay integration, there's far more good than bad. We're also fans of the configurable digital instrument panel standard on the hybrids and gas-only Titanium.

On the other hand, we wouldn't call the design particularly eye-catching, and its air vent placement can result in awfully chilly knuckles. Worse, the Escape's interior quality has gone downhill for this generation. The doors are lined in rubbery plastic rather than cloth or pleather, the cargo area is lined in brittle, scratch-prone plastic, and we found evidence of iffy fit-and-finish. The Titanium has some of the least convincing wood trim you'll find in a car. While other Fords, like the Bronco Sport and Maverick, have similarly mediocre materials quality, they at least are more characterful and interesting to look at, with distinctive designs and two-tone color schemes.

How big is the Escape?

The Escape basically offers average passenger and cargo space for a compact crossover. With 33.5 cubic-feet of space, the non-hybrid Escape's cargo area can hold five sizeable pieces of luggage plus a duffel bag or two. A Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson can hold more (including in terms of maximum space), but the Escape has a trick up its sleeve: a sliding back seat that frees up extra room should you not need as much rear passenger space. Few competitors provide such a feature. Plus, there's a good chance you won't need all the space offered by that back seat since there is an abundant 40.7 inches of maximum legroom. A 6-footer has no problem sitting behind another 6-footer.

Both the regular and plug-in hybrids have 30.7 cubic-feet behind the back seat in its rearmost position. This is due to the cargo floor being 2 inches higher (in a packaging quirk, their 12-volt battery is relocated to underneath the trunk floor, where it not only raises the floor but eliminates the spare tire). Ultimately, it doesn't matter that much in terms of practical cargo space, and although you'll definitely miss the spare tire, know that the CR-V and Tucson hybrids don't have them, either.

What are the Escape fuel economy and performance specs?

No compact crossover offers as many powertrain options as the 2022 Ford Escape.

The standard engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-three that produces 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Yes, only three cylinders, and there's cylinder deactivation, so it can actually operate as a two-cylinder to save fuel. Nifty! An eight-speed automatic is standard on every gas-only Escape. Fuel economy is 28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and 26/31/28 with optional all-wheel drive.

Available on the SEL and Titanium is a 2.0-liter turbo inline-four that ups output to 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. You'll need to fill it with premium to get that exact amount, but regular is OK. All-wheel drive is mandatory, and fuel economy comes in at 22/31/26 mpg.

The Escape Hybrid combines a naturally aspirated four-cylinder and an electric motor to produce a total system output of 200 hp. Its battery pack is replenished by recapturing energy usually lost by braking or coasting. Fuel economy is an exceptional 44 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 41 mpg combined with FWD and 43/37/40 with AWD. This is on par with other hybrid compact SUVs.

The Escape Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) basically just adds a much larger battery that can be recharged by plugging into your house or a public charger. This extra capacity allows for an estimated 37 miles of all-electric driving, which should be good enough to cover most commutes. Once this range is depleted, the PHEV essentially operates like the regular hybrid, recouping just enough energy through braking and the engine to contribute electricity to the motor. Its MPG-equivalent rating is 105 MPG-E, which is better than the RAV4 Prime and Hyundai Tucson Plug-in Hybrid. Basically, you'll spend less on gas and electricity with the Escape PHEV.

Note that the Escape PHEV is only available with front-wheel drive. That's the case with the Hyundai, but the Prime is AWD only.

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid
2020 Ford Escape Hybrid
2020 Ford Escape Hybrid
2020 Ford Escape Hybrid

What's the Escape like to drive?

Regardless of powertrain, the Escape is one of the more engaging compact crossovers to drive with a stiff chassis and a suspension just on the firm side of comfortable. Its collection of torque-rich powertrain option only heighten its athletic bent. Unfortunately, the steering is a real letdown given what we came to expect from the last Escape and other current Fords. Its power assistance is excessive and leads to an overly artificial feel. In Normal mode, the car almost seems to make subtle corrections for you through sweeping turns – we kept checking to see if the lane-keeping assist was on, but nope. Sport mode is a bit better, but you're then stuck with less efficient engine and transmission settings.

The base 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine is a little sluggish off the line, but it comes to life as the turbo builds pressure. It feels smooth and responsive switching through the gears, and we’re glad Ford avoided putting a continuously variable transmission in here (as the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester have). The more powerful 2.0-liter turbo-four is certainly quicker, but it, too, can feel a little slow off the line. Once under way, passing power from the 2.0-liter is very good due to its abundance of midrange torque, and it’s rated to tow as much as 3,500 pounds.