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2021 Ford Escape Review

The Ford Escape, a perennially strong seller, was totally new for 2020. Because this 3rd-generation compact crossover SUV is still so fresh, major changes haven’t occurred.

With one exception: The all-new Ford Escape PHEV, a plug-in hybrid version, has begun arriving at dealers, promising outstanding fuel efficiency.

Apart from that, the compact 5-seat Ford Escape SUV profits primarily from numerous small tweaks and adjustments to its trim and equipment packages for 2021.

Remember, the all-new Ford Bronco models are the Dearborn company’s compact SUVs intended for use on the dirt. The unit-body Ford Escape is a more carlike crossover SUV, designed more for an urban mission but still available with all-wheel drive.

What’s New?

The Ford Escape is now available as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the 2021 Ford Escape PHEV will be rated at 102 MPGe combined and have an electric-only range of 37 miles.

In other Escape news for 2021, adaptive cruise control and Traffic Sign Recognition have been added to the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist Plus safety suite, which is available on the SE and SE Sport and standard on the Titanium.

Also notable: An updated Technology Package, standard on the Titanium, now features memory for the driver’s seat and side-view mirrors. The Convenience Package, standard on the SEL and above, gets keyless entry with a secure punch code, plus a power liftgate and a 10-way power driver’s seat.

New exterior options include dark 19-in alloy wheels for the Titanium Elite Package and a Class II Trailer Tow Package on Escapes with the 2.0-liter powertrain. This ups the towing capability of the 2.0-liter Escape to 3,500 pounds.

A hands-free foot-activated liftgate is now part of the optional Technology Package, and a chrome grille surround has been made standard on SE and above.

Additionally, single-zone climate control is now standard on the S and SE, while dual-zone climate control comes standard on the SEL and Titanium (while being included in the Convenience Package). What’s more, heated front seats – a part of the Cold Weather Package – are now standard on the SEL, and it also profits from a new rear center armrest with two cupholders. This armrest is included in the SE Convenience Package.

Last, a tire inflator and a sealant kit are standard on the 2021 Ford Escape. A space-saver spare is optional on all models. New paint colors include Antimatter Blue, Bronze Fire, Carbonized Gray, and Iconic Silver.  See the 2021 Ford Escape models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Quiet, refined
  • Sliding rear seat
  • Escape Hybrid economy
  • Escape PHEV economy
  • Good safety suite
  • FWD or AWD

What We Don’t

  • Generic styling
  • No high-performance version

How Much?

$24,855 – $38,585

Fuel Economy

The base engine in the 2021 Ford Escape remains a 1.5-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder turbo with 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. It’s teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

A front-wheel-drive (FWD) 1.5-liter Escape is rated by the EPA at 27 miles per gallon city/33 mpg highway/30 mpg combined. An all-wheel-drive (AWD) version of the same Escape is rated at 26 mpg city/31 mpg highway/28 mpg combined.

With the significantly more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine (250 hp, 280 lb-ft), the Ford Escape is offered exclusively with AWD. This Escape is rated at 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined.

The Ford Escape Hybrid, with its 2.5-liter gas engine and electric motor, returns 44 mpg city/37 mpg highway/41 mpg in FWD form. With AWD, the Escape Hybrid, with 200 total hp, is rated at 43 mpg city/37 mpg highway/40 mpg combined.

The new plug-in hybrid Escape PHEV, an FWD model, is rated by the EPA at 102 MPGe, or 41 mpg combined when running on gasoline only. It features a 14.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack powering an 88-kW electric motor. Total output is a healthy 200 hp. The electric-only range is 37 miles. Total range of the Escape PHEV is in excess of 500 miles. Both the Escape Hybrid and Escape PHEV employ a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Standard Features & Options

With the 1.5-liter engine, the 2021 Ford Escape is available in S, SE, and SEL levels of trim. With the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine, the Escape can be ordered as an SEL or a Titanium. The 2021 Ford Escape Hybrid comes as an SEL, SE Sport, or a Titanium, while the Escape PHEV is sold as an SE, SEL, or Titanium.

The base 2021 Ford Escape S ($24,885) comes with the 1.5-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission with a console-mounted rotary shifter. Standard features include 17-in steel wheels, cloth seats, front bucket seats, a 6-speaker stereo, 4.3-in SYNC infotainment display with Bluetooth, voice recognition, and in-vehicle Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices. With all-wheel drive, the 2021 Ford Escape S starts at $26,385.

Moving up to the Escape SE ($26,610) adds a power driver’s seat, heated front row seats, automatic climate control, 17-in alloy wheels, a SYNC 3 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has Ford+Alexa and WAZE connectivity, plus adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, pushbutton ignition, and heated side mirrors. With AWD, the Escape SE starts at $28,110.

The Escape SEL ($29,205) continues with the 1.5-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder. This model has ActiveX simulated leather seating, sport contour front buckets, 18-in alloy wheels, fog lamps, a foot-operated hands-free liftgate, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote engine start, and a reverse sensing system. An AWD Escape SEL ordered with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine starts at $32,095.

The hybrid versions begin with the Escape SE Sport ($27,605). This Escape Hybrid comes standard with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine and electric hybrid drive system along with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). In addition to a 12.3-in digital instrument panel and active noise cancellation, the SE Sport has a leather-wrapped steering wheel. With AWD, the Escape SE Sport starts at $29,105.

The Ford Escape SEL Hybrid starts at $30,200 for an FWD model and $31,700 with AWD. Topping the Escape Hybrid lineup is the Titanium, which starts at $33,300 in FWD form and $34,800 with AWD.

These Titanium versions of the Ford Escape Hybrid are uber-luxurious, thanks to leather seat trim, power front seats, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen B&O Play sound system, adaptive cruise control, 19-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, and acoustic laminated front glass. For the record, the Escape Titanium also can be ordered as a non-hybrid model with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost, AWD only, for $36,155.

In new plug-in hybrid form, the 2021 Ford Escape is available in three ways – as an SE PHEV ($32,650), as an SEL PHEV ($35,510), and as a Titanium PHEV ($38,585). All are FWD.

All 2021 Ford Escapes – gas, hybrid, or PHEV – have a destination fee of $1,245.

Options on the 2021 Ford Escape include dark wheels and numerous appearance packages. Specific notables include a Class II Trailer Tow Package ($495), a Cold Weather Package ($645), a space-saver spare tire ($110), and a panoramic vista roof ($1,495).


Ford CoPilot360 is standard on the 2021 Escape. It includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian protection, a lane-keeping system, post-collision braking, automatic high beams, and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic monitoring.

Ford CoPilot360 Assist comes on the Escape SE and higher. It includes adaptive cruise control and evasive steering assist. Escape Titanium models add Ford CoPilot360 Assist Plus, which adds lane centering and front and rear audible parking aids. Titanium models also have Active Park Assist 2.0, which can parallel park an Escape without throttle, steering, gearshift or brake intervention from the driver. All the driver has to do is push and hold the park assist button.

Behind the Wheel

Thanks to extensive soundproofing, a new isolated rear-suspension cradle, and noise-reducing acoustic glass, the Ford Escape is remarkably quiet inside. Oddly, the hybrid is the noisiest of the bunch, with a gas engine that emits a growl under acceleration and the usual whirring and whining electric motor sounds.

With the 1.5-liter and particularly the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, the 2021 Escape feels peppy. And the shifts of the 8-speed automatic are smooth and well-timed

The ride and handling are quite good for this class. The 2021 Ford Escape is stable and predictable, with light-effort steering and well-damped body movements. The 4-wheel disc brakes offer good response, even in the hybrid models with their regenerative braking.

Selectable drive modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Snow and Sand.

We found the Escape front seats plush yet supportive, and the rear legroom great. The rear bench can be moved fore or aft six inches to maximize legroom or cargo room.

And speaking of cargo volume, there is 37.5 cu ft. of space behind the rear seat of the Escape, and 65.4 cu ft. when that seat is folded flat. Hybrid Escapes have slightly less cargo room because of their underfloor hybrid battery. For the record, the Escape Hybrid and Escape PHEV both have 34.4 cu ft of space behind their rear bench, with 60.8 cu ft available when that seat is folded.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Toyota RAV4 The RAV4 is a hot seller, and it has rugged styling cues borrowed from the Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Cherokee. The new RAV4 Prime is a direct competitor for the Escape PHEV.

2021 Honda CR-VAnother top seller, the CR-V, is now available as a hybrid. It uses the hybrid powertrain from the Accord sedan, with a combined output of 212 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque.

2021 Nissan Rogue—There are two Nissan Rogues, the all-new standard one and the smaller Rogue Sport. The standard 2021 Nissan Rogue comes with a 181-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, while the Rogue Sport is powered by a 141-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder.

2020 Chevrolet Equinox—The Equinox remains General Motors’ top-selling vehicle behind the Chevrolet Silverado pickup. Engine choices include a pair of gasoline-powered 4-cylinders, a 170-hp 1.5-liter turbo, and a 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo.

Questions You May Ask

Where is the Ford Escape built?

The 2021 Ford Escape is built in Louisville, Kentucky. The 1.5-liter and 2.5-liter engines come from Chihuahua, Mexico, whereas the 2.0-liter turbo is built in Cleveland, Ohio, and Valencia, Spain.

How far can the Ford Escape PHEV travel in electric mode?

In full-electric mode, the new Ford Escape PHEV can travel 37 miles.

Is there a Lincoln version of the Ford Escape?

Yes, there is. It’s called the Lincoln Corsair, and it’s a compact luxury SUV built in the same Louisville factory. The Corsair is available as a hybrid and with a turbocharged 2.3-liter engine that puts out 295 horsepower.

How long does it take to charge the battery of the Ford Escape PHEV?

Using a 240-volt Level 2 charger, the battery of the new Ford Escape PHEV can be recharged in about 3.5 hours.

What is the warranty on the 2021 Ford Escape?

The basic warranty on the 2021 Ford Escape lasts three years or 36,000 miles. The powertrain protection is good for five years or 6,000 miles. The hybrid components of the Escape Hybrid and Escape PHEV are covered for 8 years or 100,000 miles.

Is the Ford Escape better than a Ford Bronco?

Tough to answer that one. In daily life on asphalt, the Ford Escape is easier and far more carlike than the Bronco, and also quite a bit more fuel-efficient. But if you like to go camping or exploring on dirt, the rugged body-on-frame Bronco is a much more suitable choice.

Autotrader’s Advice

The Ford Escape may be a bit lost in the new Bronco’s shadow, but it shines as a practical everyday crossover SUV with good fuel efficiency and a variety of powertrains. We’re partial to an Escape SEL with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder. It’s well equipped, it’s AWD, it’s attractively priced, and it has considerably more power than the 1.5 yet gets the same 31 mpg on the highway. Find a Ford Escape for sale


Andy Bornhop
Andy Bornhop is an author specializing in the automotive world, primarily the new cars, trucks, crossovers, vans and SUVs that support our daily lives and provide us with such superb personal mobility. While all new vehicles are much more competent than they used to be, there remain some significant differences, and Andy enjoys sharing that info with anybody who’s interested. His first car? A... Read More about Andy Bornhop

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