2022 Ford Escape Review

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Feb 22, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Ford deals!

Ford redesigned the Escape for the 2020 model year. Because the automaker was also planning to introduce the new 2021 Bronco Sport to serve customers seeking a more rugged compact crossover SUV, it designed the Escape for daily driving on pavement while giving it enough all-wheel-drive (AWD) capability to handle snow, mud, and sand when necessary.

In the past, we’ve reviewed Escape SUVs equipped with the standard turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder and available turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gas-only engines. Ford also offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid models of this SUV.

For this full review of the SUV—and in light of the rapid march toward electrification—we requested a 2022 Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Aside from its powertrain, some PHEV-specific displays, and the loss of some cargo space to the battery pack, the Escape Plug-in Hybrid is essentially the same as a standard Escape.

What Owners Say About the Ford Escape - Find the best Ford deals!

2022 Ford Escape Titanium Plug-in Hybrid Red Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The Ford Escape competes in the Compact SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 57 percent of new Ford Escape buyers are male (vs. 50 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new Escape buyer is 67 years (vs. 60).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Escape in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you’ll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Feeling of safety
  • Driving feel
  • Fuel economy
  • Powertrain
  • Setting up and starting
  • Getting in and out
  • Driving comfort
  • Interior design
  • Infotainment system

The Ford Escape was not included in the official rankings in the 2021 APEAL Study due to the small sample size.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Ford Escape - Find the best Ford deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes an Escape Titanium equipped with the following options:

  • Plug-in hybrid powertrain
  • Rapid Red metallic paint
  • Titanium Premium package
  • Panoramic sunroof

The price of the test vehicle came to $44,345, including the $1,245 destination charge. The Escape Plug-in Hybrid is eligible for a $6,843 federal income tax credit.

Getting In and Getting Comfortable

2022 Ford Escape Titanium Plug-in Hybrid Front Seats

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Approach a Ford Escape Titanium and its added chrome trim, upgraded lighting, and fancy wheels give the compact crossover a much-needed boost in visual presence and personality.

Open the driver’s door, and if the Titanium has the optional Premium package, you’ll find an upscale cabin dressed in two-tone leather. Getting into and out of the Escape is easy, and it seems to sit closer to the ground than some competitors, making it perfect for people who might be shorter in stature.

The test vehicle’s 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and 6-way power front passenger’s seat are comfortable, too. Wide and offering good leg support, they’re great until you fling the Escape into a corner, at which point their lack of lateral support becomes apparent. Heated front cushions and a heated steering wheel are perfect for cold days, but the Escape Titanium does not offer ventilated front seats.

Adult passengers will find enough rear-seat legroom and foot space, and the seat slides forward and back to add cargo room when desirable. Soft front seatback padding and air conditioning vents contribute to comfort levels, and the test vehicle supplied both rear USB ports and a center armrest with cupholders. The optional panoramic sunroof makes the Escape feel bigger inside than it is.

Controls feature a well-organized, drama-free layout. The Escape Titanium also displays a mix of quality plastics, soft surfaces, and quality switchgear rendered in complementary tones and textures. These components, coupled with a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display and ambient interior lighting, lend the Escape Titanium a sense of sophistication. In particular, the stereo volume and tuning knobs feature rubber grips, look classy, and are quite nice to use.

The Titanium Premium package installs a Dark Earth Gray interior with Sandstone seat inserts and contrast stitching on the seat bolsters, center console armrest, door armrests, and steering wheel. The plastic dashboard trim pieces closely match the seat insert color, tying the whole cabin together.

Storage space is adequate. Ford missed a couple of opportunities to add more of it, but style is as much a part of the Escape’s design brief as utility.

2022 Ford Escape Sync 3 Infotainment System Review

2022 Ford Escape Titanium Plug-in Hybrid Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

In base trim, the 2022 Escape lacks a touchscreen infotainment system. Instead, the standard Sync system has:

  • 4.2-inch static display
  • Voice-recognition capability
  • Sync AppLink technology
  • 911 Assist 
  • FordPass Connect services including:

Sync 3 is an upgrade for the 2022 Escape. However, this is not Ford’s latest infotainment system, which is known as Sync 4 and is a more sophisticated technology. When you choose Sync 3, the Escape has:

  • 8-inch touchscreen display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • SiriusXM satellite radio

Sync 3 is also a requirement to get:

  • Navigation system
  • Ford + Alexa cloud-based voice services, including navigation

The test vehicle had all these features, plus wireless smartphone charging, a comprehensive head-up display, and a 10-speaker B&O premium sound system by Bang & Olufsen. The audio system offered exceptional sound quality. Unfortunately, the bass caused the plastic panels housing the speakers to vibrate, degrading performance even at moderate volume levels. That’s a shame.

As for Sync 3, it is beginning to show its age. For example, the 8-inch touchscreen display is increasingly considered small rather than the norm. Also, the technology is sometimes slow to load and respond to inputs.

The voice-recognition system is decent. However, because the navigation system wants you to start an address entry with a state, it could not handle a request for directions to the White House, failing to recognize Washington, D.C. Also, when asking for directions to the closest hospital, it returned some medical facility clutter in the list of potential destinations. Also, you cannot operate the climate system by voice.

What It’s Like to Drive the 2022 Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid

2022 Ford Escape Titanium Plug-in Hybrid Red Side View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid uses a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine, an 88-kilowatt electric motor, an electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT), and a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. It comes only with front-wheel drive and produces a combined 200 horsepower. Torque is unknown, but with electric motors, the maximum torque output is available right when you push down on the accelerator pedal.

Setting off on the evaluation drive, frustration set in early. After choosing the Eco driving mode and PHEV powertrain’s EV Now mode for “all electric driving,” I set off to test Ford’s claim of 37 miles of electric range. However, the Escape PHEV immediately notified me of this: “Engine Enabled for System Performance.”

I assume this is because the dual-zone automatic climate control system was blowing pretty hard to cool the interior on a sunny, 72-degree day. However, after a couple of miles of attempting to force the Escape PHEV into EV Now “all electric” driving, I switched the powertrain back into Auto EV mode. In this mode, the SUV automatically maximizes efficiency by automatically using electric driving whenever possible.

Ultimately, this worked out well. When the battery meter finally dropped to a zero-percent charge at the 45.2-mile mark of our journey, we had traveled 37.6 miles on electricity and averaged 165.4 mpg. At the end of the evaluation drive, the Escape PHEV covered 75.2 miles—53.1 of them on electricity—for an average fuel economy of 70.4 mpg.

Wait. What? How can this SUV travel that far on electricity if it starts with 37 miles of electric range?

The regenerative braking system and the gasoline engine recharge the battery as you drive. Then the Auto EV driving mode uses as much of that new electricity as possible to maximize efficiency. For example, while descending a local mountain range, the battery pack added three extra miles of charge, and then the SUV consumed that when the road flattened out.

Ultimately, the point of all this complexity is this: Keep a Ford Escape PHEV charged up, use Auto EV mode, and you won’t spend very much money on gas.

As for the driving dynamics, there isn’t much enjoyment to be found in an Escape PHEV. Bump isolation is impressive, but when driving over speed humps or uneven road surfaces, the Escape PHEV feels springy and bouncy, to the point where people who are susceptible to motion sickness will feel it while riding in this SUV.

Additionally, the suspension can suddenly and unexpectedly toss the SUV’s portly 3,870-pound weight laterally when rounding curves that have mid-corner dips or crests. As a result, the Escape PHEV doesn’t feel planted unless it’s cruising on a flat, smooth, straight highway. Otherwise, it’s either bouncing, floating, or threatening to toss itself out of the lane of travel.

Furthermore, the steering is lifeless and devoid of any sensation. Nothing about the Escape PHEV feels vibrant, crisp, or taut, and the P225/60R18 all-season tires announce their early limits of adhesion with loud squealing. Granted, nobody expects a plug-in hybrid SUV to be fun to drive on a mountain road. But Ford needs to do better here.

Strangely, the one thing I have no complaints about is the Escape PHEV’s excellent regenerative braking system.

Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ Review

2022 Ford Escape Titanium Plug-in Hybrid Driving Assist Display

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Ford makes its Co-Pilot360 collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) standard on the 2022 Ford Escape PHEV. It includes:

Co-Pilot360 Assist+ is available, upgrading the SUV with:

Ford also equips the Escape with automatic post-collision braking. This feature brings the SUV to a stop just as soon as possible following a collision to limit the potential for secondary impacts after the airbags have already deployed.

Active Park Assist 2.0 is also available for the 2022 Escape. This technology can autonomously park the SUV in parallel and perpendicular parking spaces while the driver is sitting in the vehicle. It takes complete control of the steering, brakes, transmission, and accelerator while the driver monitors the technology.

In use, this robust collection of driver-assist systems works accurately. However, they’re more evident to the driver than is preferable, lacking the smooth refinement of the best ADAS systems.

Mostly, the trouble is related to curves in the road. On long, flat, straight stretches of freeway, you’ll barely notice Co-Pilot360 Assist+ working behind the scenes. Add thickening afternoon traffic, a few bends in the highway, perhaps some areas where lanes expand or contract, and under these conditions, you may feel like you’re fighting with the tech’s steering inputs.

2022 Ford Escape FAQ - Find the best Ford deals!

2022 Ford Escape Titanium Plug-in Hybrid Cargo Space

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

How much cargo space does the 2022 Ford Escape have?

Choose a 2022 Escape with one of the turbocharged gas engines and it will carry 37.5 cubic feet of cargo behind its rear seat and 65.4 cubic feet with the back seat folded down. The Escape Hybrid and Escape Plug-in Hybrid have less space inside, at 34.4 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 60.8 cubic feet with the back seat folded.

Does the 2022 Ford Escape get good gas mileage?

Escape owners are largely satisfied with this SUV’s fuel economy. When equipped with the standard turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine, it returns 28-30 mpg in combined driving. The more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, which comes only with AWD, is rated to get 26 mpg.

The Escape Hybrid is exceptionally efficient, with the EPA expecting it to get 40-41 mpg in combined driving. The Escape Plug-in Hybrid should provide 37 miles of all-electric driving and get 40 mpg in combined driving.

I evaluated the Escape PHEV in Auto EV mode. At the end of the 75.2-mile trip, the Escape Plug-in Hybrid had accumulated 53.1 miles of electric driving and averaged 70.4 mpg.

Is the 2022 Ford Escape safe?

In 2021, the Ford Escape earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, it received a Marginal rating in a challenging new side-impact test. For 2022, the Escape is undergoing further testing by the Institute thus, the results are currently unavailable.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2022 Escape maximum 5-star ratings all around except for rollover resistance, which nets the SUV a 4-star rating.

How much is the 2022 Ford Escape?

As I write this review in February 2022, the Escape’s price range spans from $26,510 for the Escape S to $36,630 for the Escape Titanium. Hybrids run between $29,170 and $34,075, while Plug-in Hybrids cost anywhere from $33,940 to $39,185.

The prices above do not include destination charges. Ford adds $1,245 to cover the shipping charge to get the Escape from the automaker’s Louisville, Kentucky factory to your local dealership.

What are the 2022 Ford Escape competitors?

In the J.D. Power 2021 Initial Quality Study (IQS), the Kia Sportage ranks highest in the Compact SUV segment. The Hyundai Tucson and the Buick Envision are the next highest-ranked models.

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the Ford Mustang Mach-E ranks highest in the Compact SUV segment. The Nissan Rogue and the Mazda CX-5 are the next highest-ranked models.

Other competitors to the 2022 Escape include the Chevrolet EquinoxGMC Terrain, and Jeep Cherokee.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Ford deals!

2022 Ford Escape Titanium Plug-in Hybrid Red Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

There is nothing obviously wrong with the 2022 Ford Escape, but there isn’t anything particularly right about it, either. Somewhere along the way, the emotion and creativity that drives automotive design and engineering projects wound up on the cutting-room floor, leaving Ford with a crossover SUV that looks OK, drives OK, and provides OK levels of comfort and utility.

In the compact SUV segment, where competition is fierce, the Ford Escape needs to be better than just OK.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with nearly 30 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. He has held editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, and others. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals, including Autotrader, Capital One Auto Navigator, CarGurus, Kelley Blue Book, WardsAuto, and more.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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