The owners manual says you can recreationally tow automatic four down or with dolly. Four wheel drive can only be towed four down. In either case you must follow certain procedures such as no more than 65 mph, for automatic, 70 for manual. You must also run the vehicle for 5 minutes before towing and then every 6 hours you must start it up and go through, R,N, and D. You are also supposed to take it to a Ford dealership to have them check transmission fluid level for towing.
This of course goes against the owners manual also saying to flat tow in emergency situations only no farther than 50 miles. As you said there are alot of trannys being burned up. We have the sister/brother of the Escape a Mercury Mariner Hybrid. There is alot of confusion on this vehicle and Ford goes back and forth even today. I e-mailed them and requested to know if I could do it or not. Said I could even though the dealership told me emergency conditions only.
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Brian and Tammy
2014 Fleetwood Bounder 35K
Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Blue Ox Baseplate, Blue Ox Tow Bar, Patriot Braking