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TECHNICALLY SPEAKING: New Ford Escape will arrive tech laden


The 2020 Ford Escape offers four new engine choices, including two all-new hybrids. - Ford
The 2020 Ford Escape offers four new engine choices, including two all-new hybrids. - Ford - Contributed

The compact SUV segment is one of the most competitive segments in the marketplace, with 22 vehicles currently available for drivers to choose from.

By 2022, it’s expected drivers will have 30 choices available.

With so many choices, it takes innovation to attract buyers. The 2020 Ford Escape is all new from the ground up and is an example of innovation that leads the marketplace.

Although the 2020 Escape won’t be available till this fall, the technology is already in place. Driver assist technology is constantly improving and the optional “active park assist” is no exception.

The original park assist located parking spaces and steered the vehicle while the driver controlled the rest. With version 2.0, the Escape does it all. Push the park-assist button and the vehicle’s sensors start looking for a parking spot. Stop when one is found and hold the park-assist button down.

The vehicle shifts the transmission and controls the throttle, brakes and steering to place the vehicle in either a parallel or perpendicular parking spot. The driver can take over at any time by operating any of the controls but with 27 radar, sonar and camera sensors on the vehicle to help control it, the “active park assist” makes parking a breeze.

The Escape’s 27 sensors enhance safety in several ways, especially when a driver is having a “bad” day due to the pressures and distractions of everyday life. CoPilot 360 is a suite of driver assists standard on all Escape models. Some of the highlights of CoPilot 360 are collision alert with pedestrian detection and automatic braking if the driver doesn’t take action.

Lane-keeping alert can be supplemented with optional lane centring which uses the camera to detect road markings and the electric steering to direct the vehicle to the centre of lanes.

Optional features include “evasive steering assist” that helps the driver steer around another vehicle if possible to avoid a collision and Adaptive cruise control with stop and go function.

The system will bring vehicle to a complete stop when traffic in front stops and then automatically regain speed up to the set speed to keep with the flow of traffic. This is perfect for those busy commutes when traffic is heavy.

Besides safety, fuel economy is also a priority for most drivers. Aerodynamics, powertrains and alternative energy all play their part in fuel economy.

With more than 220 hours in the wind tunnel, the new body shape reduces drag by three to five per cent by smoothing laminar airflow. The front fascia directs air away from the front tires, while the roof rails are flush and have no effect on drag.

A slight taper to the rear roofline works in conjunction with the liftgate, rear bumper and crisp edges of the tail lights to help the air break away cleanly from the rear of the body while several under-body shields reduce drag beneath the vehicle.

Powertrains are all new, with a hybrid engine now the standard engine in the Titanium model and a 2.0-litre EcoBoost four cylinder or a 2.5-litre plug-in hybrid powertrain optional. The 1.5-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder engine is all new as well; this turbo engine has cylinder deactivation so it can operate on only two cylinders.

The engine computer evaluates available engine torque, fuel efficiency and driver demand over 100 times a second to deliver power when needed. This small engine puts out 180 horsepower and 177 ft.-lbs. torque, which is more than some V8 engines did in previous decades.

EcoBoost models get an eight-speed automatic transmission to improve fuel economy and all-wheel drive is available on both EcoBoost and hybrid models. Hybrid powertrains use a variable ratio gearbox with two electric motors and a dedicated oil cooling system that enables a 2,000-pound towing capacity.

The hybrid 1.1-kilowatt battery (14.4 kw on plug-in hybrid powertrains) uses new lithium technology and the hybrid battery is only one third the size of the Escape’s original hybrid battery.

Locating the battery beneath the floor combined with its small size maximizes interior space and enables the designers to install second row seats sliding seats to accommodate different size passengers.

There are many other technologies in the 2020 Escape and it will be interesting to watch as the competition from other manufacturers brings new technology for all of us.

Jim Kerr is a master automobile mechanic and retired teacher of automotive technology. Send your questions for Jim via jkerr@herald.ca or mail them to: Herald Wheels, 2717 Joseph Howe Drive, P.O. Box 610, Halifax, N.S. B3J 2T2

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