Once car companies, financing, and rental businesses converge, it’ll simply be a matter of logging into your bank account and seeing a pre-selected array of vehicles available by the half-hour, day, week, and so on.
Smack dab on the 3-year, 20,000 km/year payment box? The 2023 Ford Escape and its array of models.
I counted six powertrain combinations for the U.S. market, which highlights fascinating lessons for how easy it will be for buyers to choose the wrong model, the media to parrot specs, and Ford to continue to act on its confirmation bias.
A mainstream Ford wagon with six powertrains, four fuel tank sizes, and enough features to fill a phone book: is this 1962? And it’s a “compact” wagon, no less! Make no mistake—this so-called modern crossover weighs within a passenger of Ford’s full-sized ’60s Galaxie wagon lineup.
Can we agree that, over subsequent years of progress, there’s even less to differentiate Escape models from each other? Meaning: to many drivers and passengers, the interior, features, and colours are what ultimately sway buyers. (Ditto what’s on the lot…)
A key difference between now and then being vast investments in how quickly, efficiently, inexpensively, and predictably vehicles are made (none of this asked for by customers), often at the expense of buyers being able to order a vehicle exactly as they’d like. Looking far up the hierarchy of needs to Porsche, where individualized ordering is baked into a cake some owners happily spend 25 years licking the icing from.
To my mind, Ford has made public commitments regarding climate change, electric vehicles, and so on—if, in testing, one powertrain for this mainstream car demonstrated huge improvement in economy, why not build only that car?
We’re talking about a family crossover, here: Hertz attendants and teenaged drivers alike will generate the same sound effects from an Escape’s tires no matter how much power is under hood. Six powertrains? No thanks.
Especially because ONE of these is far preferable to the rest. Can you spot it? (All specs from Ford.)
2.5-liter Hybrid (HEV) Front wheel drive (FWD) range calculation based on 14.3-gallon (54 L) tank
- targeted EPA-estimated rating of 41 combined MPG (5.74 L/100 km)
2.5-liter Hybrid (HEV) All-wheel drive (AWD) range calculation based on 14.3-gallon (54 L) tank
- targeted EPA-estimated rating of 40 combined MPG. (5.88 L/100 km)
2.5-liter Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) front wheel drive (FWD) EPA-estimated range of 481 miles. Range calculation based on a 11.1-gallon (42 L) tank (excludes reserve tank capacity)
- EPA-estimated charge depleting electric range of 37 miles and combined city / highway label rating of 40 mpg. (5.88 L/100 km)
1.5-liter EcoBoost front wheel drive (FWD) Range calculation based on 14.8-gallon (56 L) tank
- targeted EPA-estimated range of 444 miles. 30 Combined mpg (7.84 L/100 km)
1.5-liter EcoBoost All wheel drive (AWD) Range calculation based on 15.7-gallon (59.4 L) tank
- targeted EPA-estimated range of 440 miles. 28 Combined mpg (8.4 L/100 km)
2.0-liter EcoBoost All wheel drive (AWD) Range calculation based on 15.7-gallon (59.4 L) tank
- targeted EPA-estimated range of 408 miles. 26 Combined mpg (9 L/100 km)
Here’s a hint: I’m choosing the one that has the most range and the smallest fuel tank, highlighted in bold above.
But no matter which model you pick, certain connected services, like navigation, will shut off after three years unless owners opt-in to a service subscription.