A white 2023 Ford Escape is shown driving on a city highway after leaving a Ford dealer.

The Cutting Edge Tech of the Fourth-Generation Ford Escape

Ford may be a company that’s proud of its storied history and has roots that stretch all the way back to the famous Model T, but that doesn’t mean that it’s stuck in the past. Walk around your local Ford dealer, and you’ll find plenty of high-tech models with exciting new features, like the F-150 Lighting with its mobile power supply that can power an entire house or the Bronco with its dizzying array of off-road modes. Ford is working hard to stay relevant in a world of quickly-evolving technology and isn’t afraid to make bold moves rather than following others’ lead.

Today we’re going to take a look at the latest generation of the Ford Escape. Generation four of this popular compact SUV debuted with the 2020 model year, introducing a redesigned body, two hybrid powertrains, and a comprehensive suite of standard driver-assistance tech. The past years have seen more technological developments and styling updates, from exterior facelifts to infotainment upgrades. Let’s take a look at the tech you can find in the fourth-generation Escape.

Evolving Infotainment

For the 2020-2022 model years, the Escape offers Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system. All trim levels except for the base S trim come standard with a large eight-inch touchscreen that allows you to easily access all of the SUV’s built-in features. It also mirrors mobile apps available through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, such as music streaming services and navigation apps, when your phone is plugged in.

The 2023 Escape was upgraded, with the eight-inch screen coming standard across the lower trim levels and the higher trims getting an even larger 13.2-inch screen. Whichever screen it has, the 2023 Escape comes standard with Ford’s new SYNC 4 system. This all-new tech allows for over-the-air software updates, meaning that the infotainment system will update itself without requiring drivers to bring their cars to their local Ford dealers to get new software features.

Wireless smartphone connectivity is now standard, and a wireless phone charger is an available feature, allowing drivers to go cordless and stay connected while en route. With the available digital instrument cluster, the traditional analog gauges behind the steering wheel are replaced by a customizable 12.3-inch digital display that can put navigation directions, safety warnings, and more directly in the driver’s line of sight, supplementing the central touchscreen display.

The Escape is also available with Alexa Built-In, a voice-activated digital assistant. This allows drivers to access several features hands-free without taking their eyes off the road. Since this feature is a partnership with Amazon, you can also use it to access Amazon audiobooks or music while driving or even control smart devices in your home while on the road. If you don’t like Alexa, the Escape also supports Siri through Apple CarPlay and has its own built-in voice recognition for navigation.

The black and grey interior of a 2023 Ford Escape shows the front seats and center console.

Hybrid Power

The fourth-generation Escape is available with two different hybrid powertrains in addition to two traditional gas-powered options. The conventional hybrid uses regenerative braking, a process where the energy usually lost as heat when the driver decelerates is captured and used to charge the SUV’s battery. That battery then powers electric motors that supplement the main engine. With the plug-in hybrid, you can plug your car in to recharge directly. The plug-in hybrid also has a higher battery capacity than the traditional hybrid and is capable of driving in full EV mode.

One of the biggest factors that drivers consider when looking at hybrid options is fuel economy. The 2019 Ford Escape has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of up to 26 MPG combined, which is considerably less efficient than the base 2023 Ford Escape, which gets 30 MPG combined. Even without opting for a hybrid, you’ll get a more efficient powertrain with the fourth-generation models. The 2023 Escape hybrid raises that number significantly to 39 MPG combined.

The Escape plug-in hybrid has an electric-only range of 37 miles, so drivers with a short commute can essentially use this version of the Escape as an EV that happens to have a gasoline backup. All you have to do is remember to plug in when you get home. Four different driver-selectable modes allow you to choose how you want to power your car during various situations. EV Now mode relies entirely on electric power, forgoing the gasoline engine until your battery is depleted. EV Later mode switches fully to gasoline power for times when you want to save the battery for later. Finally, EV Charge mode charges the battery while you drive, and Auto EV mode allows the vehicle to decide whether to run on gas or electric power.

Convenient Technology

Several features on the fourth-generation Escape are designed to make driving more comfortable and convenient for drivers and passengers alike. Available memory settings allow drivers to set their preferred position for the seat and exterior mirrors and link those settings to a particular key fob, making it easier for people who share a car to switch between drivers seamlessly. In the second row, the seats are able to slide back and forth on a track, letting you give adults more legroom if they need it or opt for extra storage in the rear cargo area if the only back-row passengers are small children who don’t need too much space. With the available hands-free power liftgate, you can open the rear hatch at the push of a button or by swiping your foot under the rear bumper.

A blue 2023 Ford Escape is shown towing a small boat on a tree-lined road.

Driver-Assistance Features

The 2019 Ford Escape is available with several driver-assistance features, but most of them are either optional or relegated to upper-level trims. Starting in the 2020 model year, many of these features became more accessible as Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite became standard across the lineup. The suite includes driver-assistance features like Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, a Blind Spot Information System with Rear Cross-Traffic Braking, a Lane Keeping System, and Auto High-Beam Headlamps.

Other available safety tech includes Evasive Steering Assist, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, and a voice-activated navigation system with live traffic updates. Active Park Assist 2.0 helps you safely make your way into and out of tight spaces when parallel parking. For the 2021 model year, traffic-sign recognition, which identifies signs like posted speed limits and shows them on the driver display, was added to the lineup of available features.

What’s in Store for the Future?

The tech features on the fourth-generation Escape have a wide variety of functions, from keeping you entertained on the go to enhancing your safety on the road. It’s clear that Ford is dedicated to making sure that this vehicle is taking advantage of the latest innovations in tech in every way it can, rather than just slapping a few novelties onto the previous generation. The result is a significantly different driving experience, with fewer stops for fuel, more automatic systems helping you stay alert on the road, and a more comfortable ride. Looking at how far the Escape has come since its third generation, it will certainly be interesting to see what Ford might have in store for generation five. Whether it’s an all-electric powertrain, more advanced autonomous driving features, or something completely new, we’ll just have to wait and see.