Ford's 2020 Escape, which is entering its fourth generation, has been a staple vehicle in sales and service fleets for its complement of value, fuel economy, and competitive cost to operate.
Each model year, the Ford compact SUV been a "top fleet selection in the compact SUV segment," said John Wuich, Donlen's vice president of strategic consulting services.
The 2020 Escape adds a pair of hybrid powertrains, flexible cargo space, and new safety technology, including additional tech on even on the base model. Sales fleets use it as sedan alternative due to its ample passenger volume, while service fleets choose it for its interior cargo volume when the rear seats are folded, he said.
Popular Choice for Single-OEM Fleets
Ford will offer four powertrains across the five trims that include S, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Titanium.
A 1.5-liter inline-three-cylinder engine is standard on S, SE, and SEL models, while a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is optional on SEL and Titanium. The base engine makes 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, while the upgraded engine generates 250 hp and 275 lb.-ft.
Ford is bringing back the standard hybrid Escape after a seven-year gap and will begin selling it in the spring. That model, as well as a new plug-in hybrid, will be sold as optional powertrains on SE and Titanium trims.
"It's an attractive vehicle for fleets that utilize multiple segment lines and want to maximize volume orders under a single OEM," Wuich said.
Competitive Fuel Economy and TCO
The Escape holds its own in terms of fuel economy and total ownership costs with competitors such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4. The cost per mile is competitive, Wuich said.
Ford hasn't released 2020 fuel economy data for the Escape, but the 2019 Escape with the base engine and front-wheel drive achieved 23 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
The TCO is "on par" with other similar compact SUVs, Wuich said.
Flexible Drivetrains for Various Locales
The 2020 Escape again will offer front-wheel drive or 4x4 options, which give fleet managers with vehicles scattered around the country flexibility when choosing a vehicle, Wuich said.
The 4x4 option is popular "in snow belt and snow states and has above average residual value as compared to the front-wheel drive model," Wuich said.
The front-wheel Escape is popular in other areas and has above average residual value, he added.
Improved Standard Safety Tech
Ford is making its CoPilot360 safety technology standard equipment across the Escape lineup, even on the base S model. Features include blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, automated emergency braking, and automatic high beams.
The Titanium model offers optional adaptive cruise control and park assist.
The fourth generation Escape also gets an infotainment upgrade. All models except S get the 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The 2020 Escape adds 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability across the board, but fleet managers will need to add a data plan. This feature hasn't been widely adopted by fleets, but it may present a future opportunity for service fleets that need to file updates from more remote locations.