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2016 Ford Escape - Gauges gone wild

when i start my car everything is fine – as soon as i put it in gear and start rolling (either direction) the Miles to Empty drops to dashes, the fuel gauge drops to E, and the low fuel warning light comes on – all three remain zeroed out until the car is parked and shut off – at restart it will show a valid (one presumes) Miles to Empty estimate, the fuel gauge will point up to a nice indication, and the low fuel warning light will be out – until i start rolling again

Well, you didn’t ask a question… but I will assume you find this bad and want a solution. I think your fuel level sensor has failed. It could be a wiring issue but I think a bad fuel sendor is more likely. I believe this requires replacement of the entire fuel pump and sensor assembly.

if the level sensor is bad how does it give good readings when i first power up the car?

It is intermittent… so it works and motion drops the signal. I would confirm that with an electrical reading directly from the sender connection at the fuel pump. If the output is in spec, then wiring is the next thing I’d check. A scanner should be able to read the fuel level reading from the OBD2 port as well. If the sender is reading in spec and the scanner is not, it is a wiring problem.