Part of the seeming approach with Ford’s new 2020 Escape has been how its more car-like appearance might better entice traditional passenger car buyers into a CUV. Ford had better hope such a strategy works since they’re throwing in the towel on passenger car production and a failure here will be highly painful.
In some good news for Ford, it is now safe to say based upon one, single, solitary data point this approach has indeed worked, albeit indirectly.
Last summer my parents moved to my and my mother’s birthplace of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; not only does this mean they have vacated the State of Illinois after 50-odd years, it also reflects their downsizing from 18 acres to 0.25 acres. At 76 and 72 years of age, it was a wise decision.
This is a screenshot from Google Earth. It shows their current garage under previous tutelage in 2013. While not the smallest garage imaginable (the house was built in the early to mid-1960s), just imagine the Caravan replaced with a 2011 Ford Taurus, that of the big-butt variety. Then replace the Ford Ranger with a 1998 Dodge Ram 1500. Finally, line the walls with my father’s Sizable Hoard of Ignored Treasures (S.H.I.T., for short) to get the full concept of how it is currently.
My mother made the observation that both vehicles, especially when combined with my father’s abundant S.H.I.T, gave exceedingly little room to walk between vehicles if both were parked inside. As both have artificial joints (two knees for her, a hip for him), she is rightfully concerned about mobility in their advancing geriatric-ness. Her concern was if either of them fell in the garage they would be trapped beneath one or both vehicles, unable to, uh, escape.
In a conversation last week, I reminded my father how some of the items in his S.H.I.T pile had been lingering for sixty (yes, sixty) years and should be allowed the opportunity to bring joy to someone else. Neither my mother’s concern nor my reminder broke through.
What did break through was telling my father about a class-action lawsuit against Ford regarding the design of the water pump in various 3.5 liter engines, such as the one in their Taurus. For those unfamiliar with this application, the water pump is driven by the timing chain. While this works out great for packaging, water pumps generally don’t last forever. Failures of water pumps in Ford 3.5 liter engines have contaminated the engine oil with coolant, quickly creating catastrophic to irreparable engine damage.
Their Taurus had 95,000 miles on it, a point in which some owners were experiencing (premature?) water pump failures. My sister’s long-term boyfriend knows two people who have had engine failures in a 3.5 liter Ford due to such water pump failures. Combine this with my warning Pop about his potential time bomb, and the Taurus went away.
So what did he buy? Another Ford.
Let’s explore this for a minute. Why did he buy another Ford? Easy; there are only three automakers to him. Chrysler doesn’t currently excite him and GM produced a 1962 Chevy II that threw a rod in October 1968, thus GM is simply an acronym for “Getta Mechanic!”. That leaves Ford. I have suggested various other brands over time but there’s always some reason to not consider them.
Remember, some things that may seem easy aren’t. Yet life must be easy when one goes to a dealer and just purchases whatever turns their crank; it’s highly doubtful my father is alone in that behavior.
My mother was a half-step ahead of my father for this purchase. When they got to the dealership the salesman asked what they were looking for. My mother said “something smaller than that” while pointing to their Taurus, a car she has detested for the duration of their ownership. For that matter, she wasn’t fond of the Ford Five Hundred that preceded it, nor the Mercury Grand Marquis before that, either.
The salesmen referred them to this 2020 Ford Escape SE with front-wheel drive and painted Magnetic. Most interestingly, this Escape is powered by the standard 1.5 liter “Ecoboost” engine. Does that sound familiar? It should, given Ford has had a 1.5 liter available in the Escape for a while. But the 2020 has a twist that Ford is seriously downplaying to the point of ignoring; this particular 1.5 is entirely different as it is a three-cylinder unit, not four.
Combing Ford’s website reveals no obvious statements about this being a three-cylinder engine. Nothing on the window sticker discloses it as being a three-cylinder, either; it’s simply “Ecoboost”. While this seems sneaky on Ford’s part, I do have to admit it; given the smoothness and power output one would never guess this to be a three-cylinder engine. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We (my parents, my wife, our daughter, and I) were going downtown, a distance of 5.5 miles, to meet the governor and to tour the governor’s mansion, a staple of the Christmas season in Jefferson City. With the Escape blocking the garage, we simply decided to take it upon my mother handing me her keys.
One of the joys of life is getting into an unfamiliar vehicle for the first time. It lets you see how intuitive the design of the interior is, gauge how well you like it, and experience something new. For the most part, all the various controls of the Escape fell readily to hand despite their execution being somewhat different – not bad, just different. Yet there was one little nugget than took a moment, something that seems as if it could have been avoided with a bit more thought.
After getting in and adjusting the seat and mirrors, I could not find the button to trigger the ignition. Where could it be? It seemed absent although “occluded” is a better descriptor. It’s location was to the lower right of the instrument cluster, angled slightly toward the driver’s door. My line of sight was blocked by the wiper stalk and steering wheel. Once found, all was again well.
Our route to the mansion, which is quite near the capitol building, involved a combination of city streets and 65+ mph highways. With five adult-sized people onboard, that 180 horsepower three-banger was at no loss for power. While nothing to pin your body to the seat, it accelerated briskly up the ramp to the highway, effortlessly maintaining 70 miles per hour. It felt eager and untaxed regardless of speed and never seemed to struggle in fulfilling the various demands put upon it.
The only thing of note is this three-pot does have a more nasal and raspy engine sound than I am accustomed to hearing. However, I listen for such things; odds are a good percentage of Escape owners won’t notice it. That might also explain Ford’s approach to marketing this engine, an approach I don’t agree with. It’s not a matter of “buyer beware” so much as simple disclosure.
This trip was on a Saturday; my parents had purchased the Escape earlier that week on Monday, with it having accumulated right at 350 miles in that time. By Saturday the only demerit either of them could give the Escape, other than the roominess of the backseat which will be rarely used, was the start/stop feature.
Ford’s marketing propaganda says its operation is seamless but that’s disingenuous. With part of the trip being in the downtown area with its abundance of stop conditions, the Escape displayed what my father aptly described as “buck-jumping”. Anytime the Escape even thought it might be coming to a full-stop, the engine shut off. That was imperceptible, even on the tachometer. What was not imperceptible was going to accelerate and hearing the “clunk” from up front and feeling the lunge from the engine trying to get with the program.
I showed my father the button to disable this feature. I have no doubt he’ll use this more than he will the radio.
Which leads me to the radio. I never turned it on. Supposedly it’s got Apple CarPlay and Android Audio. That’s nifty. But my parents have a dumb phone and the two USB ports found within will undoubtedly remain virgins. They do enjoy using the GPS and the map that shows a person on a map from an aerial view. Everything else is a waste even though Ford allowed them the privilege of paying for items they would likely call fooferifolous gimmickry.
So far my mother loves the Escape. She says the seats are the best they’ve had in something like thirty years (which would likely mean their 1985 Ford LTD Crown Victoria or 1991 Dodge Dynasty) and said something along the lines of it being nice to simply slide into a seat, not drop and hope for a soft landing. My father has a surprising affinity for it. It even has my 95 year-old grandfather’s seal of approval as he said “this is a hell of a lot better than your last car”.
My only real concern is one indicative of CUVs and SUVs by their very nature, but it’s a concern with a diminishing magnitude in this particular case. The storage room in the rear of the Escape is not plentiful. Frankly, I’ve never been real impressed with the “storage” room of this type of vehicle unless the seats were down, an impression based on experience. But since they now live in town, within fifteen minutes of most family, and are no longer traveling much for leisure, they will likely be putting very few miles on this Escape. Their weekend luggage and a few Christmas presents filled up the rear storage to a point level with the top of the rear seat.
But hauling this much cargo will not be typical. The Escape was one of four compact CUVs I was going to recommend to replace their Taurus. There’s little doubt it will work out great for them.
My father’s cars from 1959 through 1981
This is the new Kuga in Europe, so much sexier looking than the previous model – and looking a lot like the smaller Puma crossover.
When sold with a manual transmission, the three-pot motor comes with a dual-mass flywheel, like a diesel vehicle. The thing about these is that they seldom last the life of the vehicle, like a solid steel flywheel would, and they are expensive. At least with a manual box the “start/stop” is less intrusive, since it starts the motor as soon as you press the clutch.
I note that the one litre three-pot has won lots of awards for design brilliance, but has not proved trouble-free in service.
But this is a good looker alright.
I would say the turbo 3 makes this a better lease choice than a buyer choice. There’s Good Ford and Bad Ford and it takes a few years to figure out which a particular powertrain (component) came from.
Is that diesel unit a 2.3 liter? The sticker under the hood of their Escape references a 2.3, making me wonder if it was likely a unit offered elsewhere.
No the diesel for this platform is a 2.0 and since it is not going to be offered in NA it wouldn’t be listed on the emissions certification sticker. The 2.3 that is referenced is the optional engine available in the Lincoln Corsair.
Very enjoyable write-up. I agree – the downplaying of the engine’s three cylinders seems like Ford being Ford again. I had thought Alan Mulally had rid it of those demons but looks like they’ve persisted.
So much here to gnash teeth about. Is it the PITA start-stop feature that serves no real purpose but to juice CAFE numbers at the expense of starter and battery life? Is it the three cylinder engine that Ford keeps secret in order to trick the unsuspecting? The bit about the 3.5 V6 water pump issue makes a guy wonder what surprises lurk under the hood of this new one, a surprise that will rear its expensive head a few years after the warranty is over.
For all of the teeth-gnashing, it is an appealing vehicle and I can see why your parents like it.
I, too, am gnashing my teeth with Ford. For a company I really want to like, they make it really challenging to do so at times.
That said, given my parents track record, this Escape will be flawless. They had zero issues with the Ultradrive automatic in the Dynasty and, if I were a betting man, that Taurus would likely have lasted 600,000 miles on its original water pump simply because my father has an innate ability to escape unpleasantries. But that’s the kind of gamble few are willing to make, even him, so away it went.
Yes the start-stop thing, which is getting harder and harder to avoid is to boost CAFE numbers. There is a start-stop bonus as it doesn’t really make a difference in the city EPA test, but it does in true city driving, the kind I see where I’ll wait for several cycles of the light to get through a intersection.
However since it is a Ford, you should eventually have a number of options to keep it turned off.
ForScan should be able to do it, as it is possible on a number of other Fords.
Inline device, these are available for other Fords and one of the current ones may already work if the connector on the button is unchanged.
OBDII port, again these are available for other applications, either one that does the reprogramming like ForScan, or that sends a signal on the CAN Bus to disable when you start the vehicle.
But the better option is to just select the Hybrid version. More total power, more torque available off the line and much better everyday fuel economy in addition to a much more seamless start-stop operation.
Going hybrid is the solution to start-stop. A traction battery operating solely on electric for just the take-off makes the transition smooth and takes out all of the annoyance of the herky-jerky intrusion.
OTOH, I can see where start-stop in any application has its virtues, and that’s the aforementioned long stoplights. It’s worth noting that those stoplights became longer due entirely to city council greed when use of those damn stoplight cameras became widespread. Eventually, the yahoos figured out all they had to do to reduce intersection accidents was lengthen the stoplight time.
For a moment I thought this Escape could make me warm up to the idea of the CUV. But I would not want to be the beta tester for brand new Ford products. And Uncle Mellow right away pointed to this product’s Achilles heel: dual mass fly wheel.
We owned plenty Ford products but I found it wise to get them way into the production run. Our 2010 Ford Focus is mostly a pleasure to drive. There is nothing scary under the hood.
Thank you for a great read, Jason.
There is no dual mass flywheel in an Escape. Flywheels are for manual transmissions and there is no manual transmission available in the Escape.
Also this is not truly a brand new product, in that this is the second year and second application of this chassis that debuted for the 2019 model year in the rest of the world under the Focus.
Ditto for the 1.5l 3cyl which has also been available in Europe in the Fiesta ST and Focus. The Focus sharing the same 8sp Automatic.
Thanks for correcting me. I appreciate it.
I’m currently looking to replace my ‘12 Ford Escape, but am hesitate to select the latest edition.
The idea of an 3 pot engine gives me grief. I’m enjoying my V6. Also, I’m hearing horror stories about turbo chargers in general. I have Microsoft SYNC which NEVER worked correctly, so I can relate to your parent’s approach about all the electronic bells and whistles. I’ve driven rental cars with Start-Stop and was not impressed. It so reminded me of the Interlock feature on my Dads ‘74 Comet.
The only V6 with a traditional automatic in this size bracket that I am aware of is the Jeep Cherokee. However, not a big fan of FCA quality scores.
Think I’ll hold on to my Escape for a while longer.
As for the S H I T, I too am going through the down sizing mode since I have retired.
I have experienced tremendous trepidation about letting go of imagined treasures, but there is relief in getting rid of the clutter. I’m two-thirds thru the process and feeling better with each visit to the local charity.
It is therapeutic to get rid of stuff, at least for me. There is a load of treasures I plan to haul off later today.
Long ago my wife discovered this motivational personality who talked about household clutter, referring to herself as “The FLY Lady”. While she was a fly-fisherman, she also said she’d fly through the house doing her “27 Fling Boogies” where upon she found 27 things, big or small, to be rid of. The process works great.
I tend to use the “two box” rule when cleaning. On day 1, one of the two has to go. On day 2, look at two more boxes and one has to go. On day 3, look at the two surviving boxes and one has to go. And so on.
Another way I found to get rid of stuff wholesale is to have a garage fire using a lawn tractor engine as the source. After a ten minute fire in my MIL’s garage, everything was soot covered and stinky. Made it easy to back up my trailer and haul loads to the dump. I wouldn’t recommend this method, though.
I’m told I have CRAP – Comprehensive Resources Awaiting a Purpose.
You should really go look at and drive the Hybrid version. 4 cyls not 3, yes it has start stop but it does not work or act like the start-stop systems you find in non-hybrid vehicles. Plus you should get ~40mpg in everyday driving. The torque boost from the traction motor will get you off the line quick enough to make you not miss your V-6.
I just took my 85-year-old mother through the new-car process, she ended up with a Honda Fit which is actually $10 a month more per month to lease, because ease of entry and exit is a top concern. She has short legs and a tall torso and has always driven with the seat far forward, and the almost-square door opening was just the thing.
It took my a while to get through this, I was laughing so hard from the Sizable Hoard of Ignored Treasures. Though it can’t be that sizable if they can get two cars in the garage; we have never housed more than one, ever. But I will put in a word of defense for for start-stop. It worked great on our Prius, but I realize that’s different, with the big electric motor shooting things out. But I recently drove a modern Ford with that feature, a 2017 F150 V8, and it worked seamlessly and seems to help fuel economy … my friend’s 4WD SuperCab truck was sitting at 19.4 US mpg indicated, after several hundred miles of mixed urban/highway driving. He told me that the salesman told him that everyone turns it off, but he found it unobtrusive and I agreed. Perhaps that’s also a difference between a 5.0 V8 and a 1500cc three-pot.
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest it was the Prius that began the start-stop mania. And on hybrids, it does work well.
On non-hybrids? Not so much.
Then there are the golf carts that every auto executive has experience on.
I love the Sizable Hoard of Ignored Treasures. My hometown of Henderson, Kentucky has a community college located south of town that we (that is the resident wise asses) referred to as the “South Henderson Institute of Technology”. We even investigated having some sweatshirts made up but the price was prohibitive unless you ordered several hundred and we didn’t think we could sell that many.
I take it as a personal point of pride that my vehicles fit into my garage and don’t spend their lives in the driveway. The houses in my development are fairly small (1200 square feet or so) and it is obvious that many of our neighbors have down-sized and still have excess stuff. There are numerous houses in my neighborhood where the garages are full and the cars are outside; one of the many signs of having too much stuff. When we built this house I made multiple trips to the dump disposing of things we decided that we didn’t really need.
A few years back, amidst a tide of hooha about the federation of the Australian states into one country, they renamed Ballarat University. Called it Federation University. Someone didn’t think that through…
There’s also the “South Hamtramck Institute of Techology” in the Detroit area.
Wow, I don’t think I’ve seen one of these in the wild yet. Or I mistook it for a Mazda CX5 which it seems to resemble. In any case, the Shafer Family Early Adopters, nice move!
I don’t see what people are getting so worked up or afraid about in regard to a 3-cylinder. It’s 500cc per pot which is a normalish size and seems to provide plenty of power. Why is a 3 a problem? 5’s aren’t, V6’s are two of these with a common crank, and a 4 is half a V8. So? And turbos have been around for 40 years in regular automotive applications and every one built within at least the last 20 has after run coolant pumps etc, there are few “widespread” failures etc, certainly less than the double the number of moving parts in a V6 would provide for. Oh well, their loss.
Still, ten years ago I think you yourself would have considered a turbo, let along an I-3 a complete nonstarter, your positive experience of a turbo-4 has helped to convince you there are options beyond a V8 🙂 I hope it serves them well, seems like the perfect size etc.
I agree about the 3cyl fear. It isn’t even that new of an idea as they have offered a 1.0 for several years and it is a surprisingly great little engine. Car and Driver had this to say.
“we really enjoy the 1.0-liter engine. It’s a fantastic little mill, quiet in operation and capable of mean-sounding growls when caned.” and “The stop-start system proved fairly smooth in killing and re-firing the engine at stoplights, too. When the likes of BMW and Land Rover have trouble restarting four-cylinder engines smoothly with similar systems, the Focus’s relatively jolt-free starts are a triumph. There’s no escaping the three-cylinder’s distinct throat clearing upon reawakening, however.”
The 1.5 is heavily based on the 1.0 from what I’ve read so far.
If you really hate the idea of a 3cyl there are 4cyl options, either the carryover 2.0 Ecoboost or the non-turbo 2.5 in the Hybrid.
Good question on what I would have considered ten years ago. At that point in time, in 2010, we bought that blasted van but it was used. I would have certainly purchased a four-cylinder car if the right one could be found. I think it just took 16 valve heads and turbocharging for me to find a four as worthwhile.
With all the angst about this three-banger, good thing I didn’t mention it has cylinder deactivation at highway speeds.
I agree, Jim, there’s nothing wrong with a triple. Having driven an early Suzuki Swift for several years, and a ’15 Mini Cooper, there’s nothing to be scared about with three cylinders. The engine note seems a bit throbby at idle, but you get used to it. And a turbo masks that once you get off idle. With modern engine technology and mounting, you’d never know the difference. It’s just fear of the unfamiliar.
Fear of the unfamiliar can be well-founded, but the 8-speed(?) autobox should take away a lot of potential trouble, since the motor will never be forced to slog at low revs.It could be a different story in Europe where many will be manuals.
I am lead to believe the one-litre ecoboost motor is as heavy, as expensive and in real life as thirsty as a larger capacity un-boosted inline four, but obviously it performs better in Government emissions tests.
I bet this car will serve your folks very well. It’s a wise decision to downsize (house, cars, life, etc.) before it’s absolutely necessary. The Escape seems like as generic as vehicle as one could possibly buy right now, which was likely part of its appeal to them.
Regarding your father’s aversion to GM products due to an incident 50 years ago, my father-in-law had a similarly poor ownership experience with a Dodge truck at around the same time, and no one in the family has considered buying a Chrysler product since. Even my kids knew, at an early age, that “mom doesn’t like Dodges.” Though they’re not quite sure why not. Bad car experiences take several decades — at least — to shake off.
It’s interesting how Ford conceals the number of cylinders. First, I think that a large proportion of buyers these days don’t care how many cylinders their car’s engine has, so hearing that their engine has a name (EcoBoost) is all they need to know. Second, Ford may be worried that some of these people, upon hearing that the Escape has only three cylinders, may have involuntary flashbacks to Geo Metros and the like. So, calling it an EcoBoost, hiding under the obligatory black plastic shroud, and calling it a day… that probably makes sense in marketing terms.
My 2019 model car has stop-start. It’s become a habit for me to push the button to turn it off after I put it in gear. Mine also has a turbo four cylinder, so I just make sure I let it warm for a minute before pulling away and when parking I idle for a minute to let it cool down. I have no desire to have a stop-start contribute to turbocoke, updated tech or no.
Depending on the vehicle there may be options to defeat the stop-start system.
How hard do you drive your car between traffic lights? I wasn’t aware that “coking” has been an issue with turbos since maybe the early 1980s before there was any kind of integrated cooling. Of course, do what works best for you but it’s really not an issue, your car (whatever it is) almost assuredly still circulates coolant through the turbo and possibly pumps oil as well even once it’s completely shut off and the car locked, never mind when stopped at a light for a minute.
Some folks seem to want to live (or drive) in the past forever. It’s like the 3,000 mile oil change, or a few other very old habits that never die.
I rather like the rasp of a 3 cylinder engine, definitely would be a selling point for me.
I’ve only had one hire car with stop/start and I really liked it. So peaceful at the lights, and because it was a manual it was very unintrusive – the engine turned on when you put your foot on the clutch. Undoubtedly it’s going to be tougher long-term on starting components, but in a hire car that’s not my problem…
Agreed with Scoutdude and rudiger that hybrids make much more sense than these start-stop kludges. A full hybrid brings the engine up to running speed and good oil pressure before applying fuel and spark. Do these start-stop systems do anything like that, or is it just an ordinary start?
Ironic that it’s a Ford Escape with the crummy start-stop, when the 2005 Escape was the first full hybrid available from a US manufacturer. This 1.5L 3-cylinder 2020 Escape start-stop’s EPA numbers are 27 city / 33 highway / 30 combined mpg, while the 2.5L 4-cylinder 2020 Escape hybrid is 44/37/41 mpg.
When I first started hearing about start-stop, the idea was there would be a 42 volt electrical system with a much stronger and faster starter motor. I assume the 2020 Escape still has a 12 volt system? Did anybody ever go into production with a 42 volt start-stop?
Stop-start doesn’t operate until the motor is warmed-up. Otherwise it is an ordinary start – except Mazda just fire a cylinder at TDC rather than using the starter motor.
Fire at TDC – that’s clever.
Start stop works great on my Golf GTD. It even stops the car in front moving away and starts itself to save a nano-second at the lights, and stills get 60mpg. What’s not to like?
They are still 12v systems, no one has put 42v in mass production cars yet. Some mfgs claim to have a starter that is more durable on their vehicles with stop start. However they don’t typically crank any faster than a conventional ICE starter. As Uncle Mellow noted it won’t shut off until it reaches a certain operating temp, just like most Hybrids, so it is an quick and easy start as the car remembers exactly where the engine is and can fire fuel and spark w/o 2 revolutions first.
As far as non-hybrid stop-start system Ford does have some of the best tuned, least noticeable implementations out there, but not to the level of their Hybrids. See the quote from C&D above.
I guess I should clarify that systems like FCA’s E-torque use an alternator/starter with higher than 12v. 48v in the case of the FCA system but there is still a 12v battery and a DC-DC converter to run the rest of the electronics.
I didn’t know about the eTorque system. Basically a 48 volt belt-driven mild hybrid. The 3.6L V6 that uses it got a 10 best engines award from Wards this year. Here’s a good summary of how it works.
Yeah not much different than the old, short lived, GM BAS hybrids. It is interesting that they still have a traditional starter for the “first start of the day”.
Some may associate 3 cylinder engines with Geo Metro’s. Some may just think 3 is a weird number, or they resist downsizing from a good ol’ V8 or V6. But those who have experienced a 500cc Kawasaki Mach III three cylinder two stroke motorcycle, have good reason to be scared. 😀
A basic engine has had four cylinders at least since the Model T Ford came out over a century ago. Three just seems, well, odd.
Going back earlier than the T, engines had two-cylinders often times. I’m wanting to say this was even the case on early Cadillacs. It then jumped to four. No doubt there was an early three cylinder but it obviously didn’t gain wide acceptance.
So while a three doesn’t bother me, it likely does sound indecisive to some, at least enough to generate some trepidation. Besides, what would you think of a seven-cylinder engine? Sounds like a hybrid between a six and eight, not unlike how the three likely comes across to some.
I happened to be on Chevy’s website yesterday and noted that when you look at the trucks you can get a V6, a V8 or a “turbo 2.7l”. No mention that the 2.7 happens to be a 4-cylinder. Likely the same thought process as at Ford, i.e. irrational consumer non-acceptance of the format.
Audi’s 5, like your mythical 7, was the same thing, a hybrid of a 4 and 6. The likely reason that there was never a 7 is packaging reasons, hard enough to pack an inline 6 in an engine bay (comparatively speaking), I-8 is even harder, and the 7 likely wouldn’t have enough advantages over an I-6 or V6 or V8 to make it worthwhile.
I’m not aware of any four-stroke triples going way back. It seems to essentially be fairly modern development, for cars. A balance shaft is pretty essential, and those were not done back in the day.
The earliest cars almost invariably had one, and then two cylinders. But engine operating speed was very low. And a number of twins, including Ford’s were opposed twins, which had intrinsically good balance.
Almost all early fours (and sixes) had cylinders cast in pairs. That made the jump to fours (and sixes) obvious.
Triples were used mainly in agricultural/industrial diesels, because they could share parts with a four or six.
Triples seem to have originated in Japan, in kei cars, and were then scaled up some for use in the next class up, like we got: Suzuki/Metro, Daihatsu Charade, etc.
It’s been generally known that gas engines are most efficient if the individual cylinder displacement is in the 350-500 cc range. That’s why these downsized turbo engines are using three cylinders, primarily, as well as reduced friction and of course cost.
Interestingly enough, the Ford engine doesn’t use a shaft but a purposely imbalanced flywheel and front pulley. This apparently transfers a lot of the end-to-end rocking of the triple to side-side, where engine mounts do the rest. Damn clever.
Deary me. I think the number of comments here sniffing at a 3cyl kinda justifies Ford’s approach. As Old Pete says, with modern mounting and such, no-one would know, but if told, plenty would avoid out of ignorance. If concerned, check the old Daihatsu and Suzuki 3’s, possibly the most indestructible engines ever made, revvy and very torquey to boot. Here in Oz, most BMW 3 series sold are 318’s – a 1.5 three.
Start-stop has an advantage not mentioned yet: in cities, it cuts pollution, and the worse the traffic, the more so, and I’m favor of that CAFE or not.My brother has it in a CX3 Mazda diesel, and because the engine is a noisy bastard, you couldn’t call it unnoticeable, but the actual operation is seamless. Perhaps this Escape has an issue.
Say, the Governor gets a nice old pile there.
Especially engaging and informative today, Jason—thanks a bunch.
My household has the two previous Escape generations (2009, 2018), and it’s interesting to see the gradual transition from somewhat boxy to swoopy.
CARGO ROOM: definitely more in the ’09!
STOP-START: annoyed me at first, and I found myself hitting the dash button to shut it off (don’t know if that can be done permanently), but am totally accustomed to it now. I’ll just hope that I’m not ‘compensated’ by shorter life for battery or starter, I suppose.
ENGINES: Our ’09 has the comparatively low-tech 2.3 4cyl; the ’18 has the smaller turbo engine, though still with four cylinders. I’ll admit to being reflexively nervous about the 3-cyl (yes, immediately thought “Geo Metro”), but happy to hear power not lacking.
JASON: “For a company I really want to like, they make it really challenging to do so at times.” Couldn’t agree with you more!
DOWNSIZING: With recent retirement, I moved to a smaller home and had to get everything out of my book-stuffed teaching office, so I feel for your parents. But, yes, theraputic to do this, for sure.
USB PORTS: You gave me a sly laugh with that one, though please do report back if/when some passenger plugs in (if only to recharge).
George, you reminded me of something….I put about 40,000 miles on an ’09 Escape with a 3.0 V6. It was assigned to me at work. In a seat of the pants comparison, the 2020 with the three-pot is as powerful as the 3.0 from ten years ago. That’s no small accomplishment.
Having also driven a ’15 or ’16 Escape a time or two, the trajectory of the generations is delightfully obvious.
Jason, if the new 3cyl. stands up to that kind of comparison, I am impressed! I’ve never regretted not getting the 3.0 six in our older Escape, but have ridden in a few, and realized how much more potent they were.
Thanks again for sharing all this with us!
3 is a magic number as per Schoolhouse Rock.
Yes you should be able to disable stop start. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX2XrCpDSRg This is the “one Ford” Mullaly created, one set of programming that works on cars across the globe and simple one of two digit changes in the code to tailor it to the market, application or options selected.
First, to echo MarcKyle64’s comments re stop/start, I have seen comments from several other owners of cars with the system, that pressing the “off” button after pressing the engine “start” button quickly becomes automatic. The fly comes in with cars that don’t have an “off” button, like some GM products.
My concern with turbochargers and start/stop is not with the synthetic oil coking, but that momentum will keep the turbine spinning after the engine has shut off, when there is no oil pressure in the turbine bearings. I see some cars advertise an electric water pump to cool the turbine after engine shut-down, but I don’t see anyone advertising an electric oil pump to maintain pressure in the bearings.
A Ford dealer near me had a launch event for the new Escape a few months ago, so I headed down for a look-see. One of the Ford reps snagged me to do their survey, but the survey was mostly about interfacing “smart phone” apps with the car. I don’t have a “smart phone” and don’t give a fig about any of the stuff the survey was going on about, so they didn’t get much out of me.
I figured the Escape is OK, nothing exciting, I like the new Tiguan better, but it’s OK. In the back of my mind is the thought that, while Europeans are OK with the lifted hatchback look, as in the Focus “Active” we were going to get from China, before Ford changed their mind, for the 4th time and said it wasn’t coming here after all. But, seems Americans prefer their SUVs to be more boxy, big and boxy. We will see how it does vs the previous gen Escape.
Oh, and that “nasal and raspy engine sound” I spent my formative years riding in a 60 Lark with a 170 flatty and 1bbl carb, and a 64 Rambler with an OHV 196 and 1bbl carb. Don’t all cars with less than a V8 sound nasal?
Not all. The 1960 Jaguar I drove a few years ago sounded great with its straight six. My speculation is an engine is somewhat like a person – if you can’t breathe very well, you’ll sound stopped up and nasal. Same with an engine, such as those old Studebaker and Rambler sixes.
Not all. The 1960 Jaguar I drove a few years ago sounded great
That was a joke. I was poking fun at the prole rides I lived with. That being said, I do occasionally cast a lustful eye at a first gen Lark.
Don’t all cars with less than a V8 sound nasal?
And some V8s sounded pathetic. Ever listen to a 255 Ford?
RE: Three Cylinder Engines I know we have a bunch of very tech savvy readers and commenters here. Does anyone know anything about primary and secondary engine balance on an inline three cylinder? Is a balance shaft needed? Are there other issues of concern?
Obviously there a few benefits to three cylinders – fewer parts, shorter engine, lighter, etc.
Thanks in advance to anyone who can answer the technical questions.
When I told my father his Escape was a three-banger, his first question was about engine balance.
My only partially off-the-cuff response was it shouldn’t be an issue. It’s half a straight-six, so a cylinder is firing every 120 degrees of rotation. Also, with it being inline, it helps with the balance, unlike the 1960s era 90 degree V6 produced by Buick. No doubt others can elaborate better and further on this.
Think again – every 120 degrees if it’s a DKW two-stroke. We are talking four-stroke here, so firing every 240 degrees. Needs a funny shapes crankshaft and a fairly heavy flywheel to help even out the firing pulses.
Not so. Modern straight-three engines employ a crank angle of 120°. This gives perfect first and second order balance on reciprocating mass, but an end-to-end rocking motion is induced because there is no symmetry in the piston velocities about the middle piston. The (optional) use of a balance shaft reduces this undesirable effect.
No a balance shaft is not needed with a 3cyl, The old Metro, the first commonly available 3cyl didn’t have one and the Current Ford 1.0 and 1.5 tripples don’t have them either. And in those Fords you wouldn’t know it was a 3 unless you lifted the hood and took a look. Jason’s Father didn’t know it was a 3 until he was told so.
That’s interesting, I expected most 3 cylinder car engines to have a balance shaft.
Then again the only 3 cylinder I have personal experience with is the BMW K75 motorcycle engine which did have a balance shaft and was actually smoother running than the 4 cylinder K100/K1100.
Jason, excellent review, I really enjoy your writing. Lots of little hidden treasures here, including the Sizeable Hoard of Ignored ones that had me chuckling. The perspective of real people on their vehicle purchases is important and not seen in the automotive media, not least of which because it demonstrates the intricacies and vicissitudes of brand loyalty. The irony of harboring a 5 decade grudge against one manufacturer while running right back to the one that you fear is about to burn you badly is something at which you just smile and gently shake your head. People are people, and people are characters.
I knew the water pump was a complete expensive PITA to replace due to its location on the 3.5, but I didn’t know that it was prone to puke coolant into the engine. And here’s where we are reminded that you can still screw up proven technology: a naturally-aspirated port-injected engine with a fundamental problem. Am I correct that this engine is Ecoboosted for transverse FWD platforms like the Edge, Explorer, Flex, but that the F150 3.5 Ecoboost is an entirely different engine? Wondering how far the water pump issue extends in the lineup.
Regarding the Escape, your parents’ comments demonstrate why the class is so popular now, and that few people really care about cylinder count as long as the car moves well enough for them. It is interesting to see a CUV morphing back toward the hatchback/wagon class in styling and stance. I hope it serves your parents well.
The 3.5 in their old Taurus was naturally aspirated.
In my 47 years, I’m still trying to figure my father out. His opinions about things are often contradictory and while the best examples are political, I’m not going there. Just suffice it to say he’s a creature of habit and Fords are an old habit for him.
Very curious to drive one of these as I have been wondering how a 3 cylinder sounds and feels. The last one I drove in was an old Metro in the 90’s and that was a weird sounding engine and was very smooth but I’m sure this new one is much better. It would however seem that the model of choice here is the hybrid, especially if stop/start, the thought of 3 cylinders bug you and the bonus of better MPG to boot.
A 1.5 litre 3-cylinder is one of the engine options on the latest 3-Series BMW – I don’t know if BMW use any balance shaft.
I rented a Peugeot 208 in Spain that I later found out had a 3-cylinder engine. The engine was refined and pulled like a 4-cylinder on the autopistas and I have no qualms about the performance of the 3-pot in the Escape. I do have reservations about the usability of the rotary knob for the transmission. I am accustomed to shifting horizontally with a lever and not twisting a knob to get out of park. Did your parents encounter any disconcerting reactions to using a knob to shift?