Ford Escape

2017 Ford Escape

The Ford Escape, unlike most compact crossovers, is more like a tall wagon with rakish styling and sporty handling. Competitors include the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5, but the Escape offers the most responsive steering, crispest handling, and best body control (the CX-5 is a close second). The Escape also has the firmest ride; you dont get that sporty handling for nothing.

The 2017 Ford Escape gets freshened for the model year. Revised styling in front gives it the striking family looks Ford recently copied from Aston Martin. That small styling revolution for Ford goes back to the 2013 Ford Fusion, but it isnt dated yet. In fact, it might never be; the Aston grille shape goes back 50 years.

There are two new engines, a 1.5-liter replacing a 1.6, and a new version of the 2.0-liter. The new engines dont make much more horsepower than before, now 179 hp for the 1.5-liter, and 245 hp for the 2.0 liter, but they are more efficient than before. There is also a 2.5-liter making 168 horsepower, which only comes with front-wheel drive.

All-wheel drive is available with the 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter engines.

There are new available infotainment and safety features for 2017 Ford Escape models. Fords Sync Connect now enables remote access to the cars functions via smartphone. New safety systems for 2017 Escape include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with braking, lane keeping, active park assist that can steer the car into a parking space. A warning on the dash goes off if the car senses the driver is tired. Blind-spot monitoring continues to be available.

The 2016 Escape only received four stars overall for crashworthiness from the federal NHTSA, and a lowly Poor rating from the insurance industrys IIHS in the small overlap front test (hitting a telephone pole or edge of a wall).

Fuel mileage is decent but not a reason to buy the car. The three engines get about the same: the 1.5-liter is EPA-rated at 26 miles per gallon Combined, the 2.0-liter at 25 mpg, and the 2.5-liter at 24 mpg. If a purchase were measured on this just this basis, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost is the clear winner for us because it offers so much more power.


2016 Ford Escape

The Ford Escape is sleek and contemporary, rakish, even daring, the old boxy profile left behind when it was redesigned for the 2014 model year. The broadly arched shape of todays Escape asserts a sporty demeanor.

While seeking to produce a compact crossover SUV thats exciting to drive, Ford might have cut back a bit on comfort and utility. Even so, you get helpful cargo space and reasonably good passenger room. All-wheel drive is available for wintry conditions; front-wheel drive is standard.

Underway, the Escape provides crisp steering, along with strong and responsive powertrains. Fords smallest crossover handles more like a small car than an SUV. Ride quality ranks as firm, but hardly harsh, and the suspension is compliant. Road manners are emphatically sporty, rivaled only by those of the Mazda CX-5. Few others come close to the Escapes responsive handling and confident body control.

Redesigned for the 2014 model year, the Escape sees little change for 2016, except that SYNC 3 is replacing the MyFord Touch infotainment control, which has drawn considerable criticism. New chrome appearance and leather comfort packages are available for the 2016 Escape SE.

Three powertrain choices are offered. At base S level is a well-proven 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, making 168 horsepower. Though aimed at fleet use, its smooth and perfectly suited for suburban duties. The popular choice is a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, rated 178 horsepower. Acceleration is about the same as the 2.5-liter, but the turbo and a more torquey nature combine to make transmission downshifts less frequent.

For more energetic performance, the 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder can hit 60 mph in less than eight seconds. Thats still not quick but plenty sprightly around town. A well-behaved 6-speed automatic is the sole transmission.

An optional active park assist system can evaluate parallel-parking spots and steer the Escape into one.

Not everything is perfect, of course. The Escape doesnt feel as roomy as the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 do. Its dashboard cuts into knee space, and the seats feel a bit too firm. In real-world driving, gas mileage has fallen below EPA estimates.

Crash-testing hasnt been trouble-free, either. While the Escape earned mostly fine scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it was rated Poor in the small-overlap frontal test. Federal testing by NHTSA brought only a four-star overall rating (five stars for side impact).


2015 Ford Escape

Ford Escape is practical and comfortable with a classy cabin and plenty of cargo space. It rides smoothly and has excellent handling. Several drivetrains are available, and buyers should choose carefully because that choice greatly affects the driving character.

Escape comes standard with front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive optional. Escape was redesigned for the 2013 model year and there have been no major changes since.

The 2015 Escape comes in three models: S, SE, and Titanium. Three engines are available, each four-cylinder. Least expensive is the tried-and-true 2.5-liter, but its also the least powerful and least efficient.

Much more modern are the EcoBoost engines, a 1.6-liter making 178 horsepower and a 2.0-liter that generates 240 horsepower. Their designs differ, but both are twin-turbocharged with direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). We recommend opting for one of them.

We found that a 1.6-liter Escape with front-wheel drive feels completely different from a 2.0-liter all-wheel-drive model. The 1.6-liter with front-wheel drive is quick, lively and visceral, a blast to drive. The 2.0-liter AWD feels solid, heavier, more civilized, more grown-up.

Fuel economy ranges from an EPA-estimated 23/32 mpg City/Highway for a 1.6-liter front-wheel-drive Escape, to 21/28 mpg for a 2.0-liter all-wheel drive.

Inside, creature comfort is impeccable, even with the standard fabric upholstery, rugged and handsome. Interior materials are soft, and the plastic high quality. Rear legroom is decent, at 36.8 inches, and rear climate control is standard in all but the Escape S base model. Theres excellent cargo space: 68.1 cubic feet behind the first row and 34.3 cubic feet behind the second row, and the standard 60/40 rear seat folds flat wonderfully fast, using one lever.

An available magic release for the liftgate is handy when your arms are full and you have cargo to load. Kick your foot under the rear bumper, and presto, the liftgate pops open so you can drop your things into the back without having to set them down and fumble for your remote.

The top-level Escape is available with Active Park Assist. By simply pushing a button, the system detects an available parallel-parking space, then automatically steers the vehicle right into it. The driver operates only the gas and brake pedals, not touching the steering wheel during the parking procedure.


2014 Ford Escape

A total redesign of the Ford Escape for 2013 moved the top-selling compact SUV into the contemporary era, courtesy of high-tech small engines, a smooth 6-speed transmission, aerodynamic front styling, and electronic wizardry. Ford claimed 11 features exclusive to the Escape in the compact SUV class: everything from a capless fuel nozzle to Torque Vectoring Control, which helps the Escape corner more securely.

Changes for the 2014 model year are modest, but worth noting. The 2014 Escape offers three model choices: Escape S, Escape SE, and Escape Titanium. (The previous SEL edition is gone.) A four-way manual passenger seat is standard in all 2014 Escape models; so is a rearview camera. 2014 Escape Titanium models have full leather-trimmed seats, as well as 18-inch wheels of sparkle nickel-plated aluminum. Ford SYNC, a voice-activated communications and entertainment system, is available with AppLink on the 2014 Escape. Late in the 2014 Escape model year, Ford's hands-free liftgate will be available with the Class II trailer-tow package so you won't have to choose between the two of them.

Fuel economy ranges from an EPA-estimated 23/32 mpg City/Highway with the 1.6-liter front-wheel-drive Escape, to 21/28 mpg with the 2.0-liter and all-wheel drive. We drove both versions in a spirited fashion and fell below those marks, averaging 22.7 mpg in the 1.6-liter and 19.7 mpg in the 2.0-liter. EPA figures for the 2014 Escape are slightly better than those of a comparably equipped Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 (and good enough, at least on the highway, to induce Ford to abandon the Escape Hybrid after 2012).

The 2014 Ford Escape offers a choice of three engines, all four-cylinder: The least expensive is the tried-and-true 2.5-liter, but it's also the least powerful and the least efficient. Much more modern are the four-cylinder EcoBoost engines. There's a 1.6-liter Ecoboost making 178 horsepower and a 2.0-liter Ecoboost that makes 240 horsepower. Their designs differ, but both are twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engines with direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). Ford claims Ti-VCT improves peak power by up to 7 percent and low-speed torque by 5 percent, to quicken acceleration. Fuel economy is expected to be 4.5 percent better than a non-EcoBoost engine.

Drivetrain choice is important because it significantly affects the driving character of the Ford Escape. We found a 1.6-liter front-wheel-drive Escape feels completely different from a 2.0-liter all-wheel-drive model. The 1.6-liter with front-wheel drive is quick, lively and visceral, a blast to drive. The 2.0-liter AWD feels solid, heavier, more civilized, more grown-up. All of them offer a smooth ride, a benefit of this latest-generation Escape's rigid chassis.

Creature comfort is impeccable, even with the standard fabric upholstery, rugged and handsome. Interior materials are soft, and the plastic high quality. Rear legroom is decent, at 36.8 inches, and rear climate control is standard in all but the Escape S base model. There's excellent cargo space, 68.1 cubic feet behind the first row and 34.3 cubic feet behind the second row, and the standard 60/40 rear seat folds flat wonderfully fast, using one lever.

Overall, Escape's styling emulates its big brother, the Explorer. However, its nose more resembles its little sister, the Focus hatchback, distinctive, sort of aero stubby, with the familiar blue oval emblem centered in its wide, narrow grille. The hood has nice character lines, and the headlights sweep sharply back and up into muscular wheel wells.

One clever innovation, which others have been copying, is an available magic release for the liftgate. Kick your foot under the rear bumper, and presto, the liftgate pops open so you can drop your heavy things into the back without having to set them down. It's a feature we like, and would buy, although you can do the same with a remote keyfob that opens the liftgate; that is, if you remember to carry it in your hand with your thumb over the button when you leave the grocery store with your arms full. New for 2014, the hands-free liftgate is available along with the Escape's Class II towing package.

The top-level Escape is available with Active Park Assist. By simply pushing a button, the system detects an available parallel-parking space, then automatically steers the vehicle right into it. The driver operates only the gas and brake pedals, not touching the steering wheel during the parking procedure.

We did not find MyFordTouch, the in-car communications and entertainment system, easy to use.

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