When we picked up our Escape
last year it had an extremely hard to open door.
I was pushing it in and pulling the handle and it still took enough force to open that I was concerned the metal would break. Oddly this only happened after we had towed it to the next location . After we initially opened it the door worked fine until we traveled again.
Ours turned out to be the striker installed backwards in the door frame. The thin part was out and wore a groove in the latch.
It started acting up after we had driven 500 or so miles and by the time I finally figured what was wrong was almost impossible to open.