When a third-generation Escape was launched in 2013, Ford migrated to a crossover platform, boosting comfort and handling, as well as mileage, and gaining traction with U.S. buyers.
The fourth-generation Escape takes the same approach, but it adopts an even sleeker look, part to some distance between it and the reborn Bronco model that Ford will launch in 2020.
"We want to The new Escape's silhouette is very slick, dynamic – more progressive. The off-road [Bronco] will be more upright, boxy, "said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's executive vice president of product development.
The Escape's cabin will also take on a more refined, car-like look, reflecting the fact that Ford expects to pick up many of the buyers it might otherwise lose as it abandons such familiar then nameplates as the Fiesta, Focus and fusion over the next several years.
Escape will be loaded with the sort of high-tech features that younger buyers crave, including the latest take on Ford's Sync infotainment system, now able to handle both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dubbed Co-Pilot 360, including automatic emergency braking and blind spot detection, as well as the ability to park itself in a tight spot.
As for power trains, the 2020 Escape will start off with two gas engines, including the premium turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost inline-four making 250 horsepow is and 273 pounds-feet of torque. The hybrid will pair with a 2.5-liter gas engine and an electric motor will boost mileage, though Ford has not yet released the final EPA numbers.
The plug-in hybrid, the first in the segment, will add a larger battery pack capable or propelling the 2020 Escape for up to 30 miles in all-electric mode. Using a 240-volt Level 2 charger, the same type of homeowners will charge, charge times for a drained battery will run around 3.5 hours.
As for the more rugged version of the Escape, Ford is only dropping hints for the moment , Thai-Tang said in "off-road version" is a development and should make its debut late this year.
Pricing will be released over the coming weeks, but the base 2020 Ford Escape is expected to top the current entry model , which starts around $ 24,1
Disclosure: Paul Eisenstein is a freelancer for CNBC. Ford paid for his transportation and lodging at the New York International Auto Show.