the suspension on my 2018 Ford Escape is terrible - my question is CAN the shocks and struts be replaced
Sure they can. Don’t expect too much difference, new components will simply make it ride like is was when new.
Don’t use OE Ford parts and you might have a chance of a better ride. Also don’t use cheap shocks and struts, same problem. I’d suggest a good brand like KYB replacements.
I might ask these questions. Have you owned this vehicle since new or is this a recent purchase? If the answer is the latter is it possible that the ride is just different from your previous car and there is actually nothing wrong with the ride at all?
Maybe the suspension on the prior ride was mushy and the current ride is what it is supposed to be so it feels firmer. Just theorizing.
I bet quality tires would make the ride better.