Ford Authority

2021 Ford Escape To Lose SelectShift Paddle Shifters

In recent weeks, we’ve reported that a couple of Ford and Lincoln models equipped with SelectShift paddle shifters would offer a more limited availability of that feature for the 2021 model year. Now, Ford Authority has learned from sources familiar with product plans that this list also includes the 2021 Ford Escape, which will no longer offer the paddle shifters at all – even as an option.

When the all-new Ford Escape debuted for the 2020 model year, only models equipped with Ford’s optional 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 engine came with the SelectShift paddle shifters. However, even those models will no longer come equipped with paddle shifters.

Ford’s SelectShift system with paddle shifters gives owners a sportier way to shift the vehicle without having to take their hands off the steering wheel. The feature also allows the driver to choose between fully automatic shifting or semi-automatic, clutch-less shifting on the fly.

The SelectShift automatic transmission allows drivers to choose between a conventional automatic-shifting drive mode (“D”) or semi-automatic shifting sport mode (“S”). Within Sport mode, drivers can choose between automatic Sport shifting and manual shifting.

The 2021 Ford Escape joins the 2021 Ford Explorer and 2021 Lincoln Nautilus in this regard. As we previously reported, paddle shifters are only standard equipment on 2021 Explorer Limited Hybrid, ST, and Platinum trims, and are not available on Base trim models.

For the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus, SelectShift capability with paddle shifters will only available on vehicles equipped with Ford’s twin-turbocharged 2.7L EcoBoost V6 or 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 with the Class II Trailer Tow Package. Models equipped with the 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 will only come equipped with the paddle shifters if they are also equipped with the tow package.

We’ll have more on what’s new with the 2021 Ford Escape soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Mustang news and continuous Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. IndependentVyu

    This is a horrible mistake by Ford to remove select shift from any vehicle. I will never own a vehicle where I cannot control downshifting and upshifting as I traverse through two valleys daily on state highway where I ascend and descend nearly 400 feet on ten to twelve percent grades. The road winds up and down through these valleys and I downshift going down the steepest parts daily. Shift selectibility is even more crucial when covered in wet leaves, snow and/or ice even with or without four wheel drive or all wheel drive. Get rid of the rotary gear select knobs and put the damn gear shifters back in your vehicles as ninety nine percent of your customers do not live in nearly flat Michigan. I do not even live in the mountains and cannot believe what kind of response you are going to get from those drivers. Or should I say, former Ford vehicle owners.
    Please remember not every vehicle is for everyone.

  2. Chris

    If they hadn’t gone to that awful rotary shifter, they could have kept the manual shift sport mode. More than the paddle shifters, Ford needs to eliminate that new ugly front end on the Escape, an otherwise decent looking vehicle inside, profile and rear.

  3. Mick1

    I like the front end of the Escape. You want a box there are many to choose from. 99% of Escape owners probably don’t use paddle shifters and 90% don’t even know they have them.

    1. Cliford James

      Yes so true

  4. Thomas Babij

    Sport-mode shifter on my Ford Edge used frequently (down-shift on hills in place of braking). But, Paddle shifters on my Ford Fusion, never used … Pain in the neck while turning.

  5. robert r fisher

    i totally agree on that front end. it’s the reason i still have my 16 titanium. they keep taking fun stuff out of these escapes – heck all vehicles – and they’ll sell even less escapes than they do now.

  6. Josh E.

    I was doing some tinkering with the build configurator on Ford’s website. If the paddle shifters are removed from the 2021 Escapes, it looks like the new 2021 Bronco Sport Badlands would be a good alternative. As that is the cheapest variant of the Bronco Sport that offers SelectShift with paddle shifters. Price wise it is pretty comparable with the 2021 Escape that is configured with the same 2.0L EcoBoost engine with paddle shifters. According to the configurator on Ford’s website. The Escape with paddle shifters comes with a base MSRP of $32,650, while the Bronco Sport has a base MSRP of $32,660. The Bronco Sport also comes with options that would be more appealing for people who live in mountainous regions. Like the off road capabilities that would be useful for camping on the weekends or holidays.

  7. The Gentle Grizzly

    Not a good idea. Come on, Ford.

  8. Margaret Thomas

    Exact reason I will keep my 2016 Escape Titanium. I also smell a skunk with the dial instead of a gear shift. I’d rather have the old 3 on the tree than a dial. The reason that Bronco and Escape are so much alike is because the chassis of the Bronco is the same as the older model Escapes.

  9. Mike Levy

    Huge, huge mistake. Many of us drive with the paddles. I even do it when they aren’t there. ☺️ I drive my moms Equinox 2.0T sometimes, and it doesn’t have paddles, or any way to manually shift. Problem is, I’m so used to using the paddles from my BMWs, that I flick my left hand to downshift anyway, and either nothing happens, or I change the radio station.
    I see zero reason to remove them from anything that already had them. It doesn’t cost much, if anything, extra for a few lines of code and a pair of plastic paddles. What do they have to gain by alienating enthusiasts and removing them?

  10. Chris

    I agree completely Margaret. I’m keeping my 2018 Escape SEL for the same reason. The shifter AND the new front end of the Escape is Ugly! Ford, please fast track a redesign of the front of the Escape. Please! Also, why do I need to go the Titanium trim to get ambient lighting? I had a 2012 Fusion SEL that had ambient lighting and the SONY sound system!

  11. Mike

    I still like my 2009 Escape. I like the square body, plus it still has the radio/cd and aux input for my Realistic 8 track player and my Realistic auto reverse cassette player and also bluetooth, sync features. One thing is they should bring back the radio/cd and get rid of the screen, distracting.

    1. Chris

      Mike, I liked that generation of the Escape. 2nd Gen I think. Good lines. Nice dash lighting and interior. I rented one for a couple of weeks. It was silver
      and drove great. They still look good on the road today.

  12. Jefferson

    It’s been quite awhile since Ford had a better idea. Must’ve been before quality was job 1…

  13. I. M. Fedup

    They’ve already cost-cut courtesy approach lamps and dual-note horns while everyone else is *adding* them. Did Ford ever consider cost-cutting the cost-cutters so our $56,000 Edge ST can have the same dual-note horn that’s standard in a Hyundai Elantra?

  14. Smarter than the system!!

    I leased a 2017 ford escape se which came with the cold weather package. Heated front seats, heated mirrors, instant electric heating system and a heated windshield. After the 3 year lease I had only 11k miles on it. They wanted me to turn it in and lease the 2021 Escape. I didn’t like ANYTHING about it. From the dial shifter, the ugly front end, the rear hatch finger pull down instead of a real handle, and especially the elimination of the cold weather package from ALL Ford models. WOW!
    I BOUGHT-out my lease for the originally “negotiated” residual value.
    So the distance I drive now, by 2025 I’ll have the SUV I want at a total $$ spent price which will end up being @ $3,000 LOWER than the ORIGINAL STICKER PRICE!! AND, I’ll probably have an 8 year old Escape SE with everything I need or want with maybe
    Under 30k miles on it!! As we say in Boston, that will be WICKED PISSAH!!!

  15. Gary

    Let’s be honest here, how many owners/drivers use those shifters!! Very few I am sure. So eliminating them is not a big deal. Will some miss them? Of course.

  16. Scott Paul

    Yet another reason to not buy a Ford – this from a life long Ford guy.
    High prices, less stuff. Come on Ford you’re better than this!

  17. Mary Harvey

    I bought a used 2017 Escape in 2020 to avoid the radio knob shifter. Hate it. I’ll buy a new Ford after they’ve gone back to the drawing board. I’ve had Ford SUVs since 2012.

  18. The Gentle Grizzly

    I’m not familiar with Ford’s dial shifter but see a lot of hate for it. I don’t see nearly as much as for the dial shifters in other makes. What, aside from not-bring-a-handle, is the issue? I’m not challenging you, I really am curious.

    I have a Chrysler Pacifica and it has a dial. I am old and set in my ways and yet find it works just fine.

    Before that, I had a Honda Odyssey. It was fitted with one of the most profoundly annoying button shifters imaginable. It was very badly thought out. Other vutton shift cars seem fine.

  19. IndependentVyu

    I am not demanding paddle shifters return to the Ford Escape but a manual mode, sport mode or whatever mode they want to call it must be maintained. It could use a simple up/down toggle or button like those used before the paddle shifters were introduced into the Ford lineup.

    I pass vehicle after vehicle every winter slid off into a ditch or guardrail on a downhill grade and almost every one of these accidents are vehicles that do not have manual shift selectability. The drivers of these vehicles may not even be going fast when the accidents occur. These drivers are only stuck with the brake peddle to slow with and cannot redirect the sliding steering tires by accelerating in low gear when they only have the “drive only” automatic transmission that would only launch the vehicle way too fast down the slick hill making things only worse.
    For the drivers out there that have a manual shift option and do not manually down shift to engine brake on long or steep grades and only choose to ride the brakes hard to the bottom are fools. Engine braking causes no more fuel usage than riding down a grade in high gear and does no engine damage as long as the RPM’s are kept within the manufacturer range. I know many people that manually downshift on excessive downhill grades, and not just truck drivers. Even my daughter downshifts to engine brake daily.
    Please remember not every vehicle is for everyone.

  20. Carlos

    I don’t get it…the paddle shifts are great in my opinion. Purchased a 2020 Escape sel a few months ago. They allow a little more control for the driver when exiting from a highway to an off ramp…I’m used to driving manuals. First car I’ve owned with auto transmission. The paddle shifters are a plus for me.

  21. Beco

    I’ll never buy another Ford Escape. Loved the car, REALLY loved the paddle shifters. The new “nob” shifter is a joke. Come on Ford. Bring back the paddle shifters.

  22. LFL

    The Build / Price for 2021 Ford Mustang Base Ecoboost does not have paddle shifters, but Ford still lists 10 Speed Select Shift Transmission as option. How can it be select shift without paddle shifters or some other means to manually shift gears?

    1. Mike Levy

      Could shift through the shifter, or with buttons. Manual shift modes came way before paddles did.

  23. Lisa Clark

    I bought my Escape new in 2012. I love it. My husband and I both use the paddle shifters. It’s time for me to purchase a new vehicle. I went to my local Ford dealer to purchase a new Escape because I loved my 2012 so much. The first thing I noticed was the ugly rotary dial gear shifter. That was a deal breaker. I’m hoping the 2022 models will be redesigned so I can purchase the Escape but I’ve started looking at other makes of suvs to find something I like with a “normal” gear shifter. Please correct these bad decisions soon.


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