Ford has confirmed that its brand new mid-sized Escape SUV will arrive in November, and that it will also offer the five-door, five-seat high-rider with drive-away pricing on some variants from launch.
However, those Blue Oval fans hoping to get their hands on the plug-in hybrid version will have to wait, with the electrified version now delayed until late 2021.
In Europe, the hybrid version has been subject to a recall after a fire risk was identified. The knock-on effect means PHEV Escapes won't be arriving with the three petrol-only offerings next month.
The good news is that Australian market models have not yet commenced production and when they do eventually start rolling into local showrooms, they will not contain the fault identified in cars sold overseas.
"I can confirm that the vehicles bound for Australia have not yet been built," said Ford Australia's head of communications, Matt Moran. "So they are not impacted by the issues that are in the news."
Ford Escape ANCAP safety rating
Safety ranks high on the Escape's feature list and the new model has been awarded the full five-star rating by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), with particular praise awarded for its autonomous emergency braking system (AEB).
Not all crash mitigation systems are the same but the safety assessment specialist has identified that Ford's Escape technology is of particular note thanks to effective pedestrian and cyclist detection with almost full marks scored in the test.
The rating has been derived from Euro NCAP test data conducted in late 2019, according to Ford, which means that the Escape's five-star ANCAP rating is based on 2019 protocols.
This means that it misses out on items like centre-front airbags that would be required for a five-star pass under 2020 protocols.
Virtual test drive
With the arrival of the Escape, Ford will also relaunch its Desk Drive virtual walk-round service, offering customers an opportunity to get to know the new model ahead of its arrival, as well as an introductory discount if they proceed with a purchase.
Its Desk Drive online presentation and Q-and-A sessions were introduced ahead of the Puma small crossover arrival, and Ford says the success of the initiative has prompted the company to roll out a second version for its bigger sibling.
Not only will customers be able to interact with Escape experts via the Facebook Live event on the Ford Australia Facebook page, the Blue Oval will also offer drive-away pricing for the entry-level Escape, as well as for the sporty ST-Line in both front and all-wheel-drive variants.
This drops the price of the base Escape to $36,490, while the front-wheel-drive ST-Line moves to $38,990 and the all-wheel-drive version costing $3000 on top of that.
The price change to the Ford Escape puts closer to the entry-level Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport ($30,980 plus ORCs), and a little below the Toyota RAV4 GXL automatic ($37,415 plus ORCs). These two top the medium SUV sales charts.
Pricing of the ST-Line plug-in hybrid and flagship Vignale versions are still subject to on-road costs.
2020 Ford Escape pricing
- Escape 2.0L FWD - $36,490 drive-away
- Escape ST-Line 2.0L FWD - $38,990 drive-away
- Escape ST-Line 2.0L AWD - $41,990 drive-away
- Escape ST-Line PHEV FWD - $52,940 plus ORC - Arrival date TBC
- Escape Vignale 2.0L FWD - $46,520 plus ORC
- Escape Vignale 2.0L AWD - $49,490 plus ORC
The Escape Desk Drive will allow live interaction with the expert presenter, a real-time chat function and highlights of the new model – exactly as a customer might with an in-person showroom visit, but from the comfort and convenience of their kitchen table, breakfast bar or bedroom.
If the initial virtual meeting has piqued the customer’s interest, a dealership visit and test drive can then be arranged to take things further if required.
As an extra perk, Ford is offering a $500 sweetener to any customer that buys a new Escape following a Desk Drive and then actual test-drive through the Ford national dealer network.
“Through initiatives like our virtual Desk Drive, we have worked with our dealer network to make buying an all-new Escape an easy, informed experience, including special introductory offers and opportunities for Australians to get to know the Escape however and wherever suits them,” said Ford Australia's new president and CEO Andrew Birkic.
Ford’s Desk Drive is the latest in a number of convenience services that make the car-buying process easier for customers. In addition to online inspection and configurators, a number of brands are offering test-drives and servicing from home, while an increasing number are rolling out complete web purchasing.