Updated with a host of changes for 2017, it’s no wonder the Ford Escape is one of the most popular compact crossovers around. A base 168hp 2.5-liter engine is better avoided – opt instead for either the turbocharged 179hp 1.5-liter or 245hp 2.0-liter inline 4s – the latter of which can tow 3,500lbs. Front wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is optional, though only a six-speed automatic gearbox is on offer. The Escape’s infotainment system features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, and auto park assist.
One of the most popular compact crossovers benefits greatly from its refresh, but at a cost.
One of the most popular compact crossovers benefits greatly from its refresh, but at a cost.
The Ford Escape is one of the most popular compact crossovers on the market right now and its recently been updated for 2017 with a host of changes inside and out, and the car is all the better for it. This refresh was much needed though as the competition was catching up to it fast, cars like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 becoming a more popular choice. Overall, the Ford Escape is a very good option in the segment, if you can afford it.
The Ford Escape has as standard quite a nicely-trimmed cabin.
The Ford Escape has as standard quite a nicely-trimmed cabin, but the top of the line Titanium model is, as expected, the recipient of the best interior, possibly one of the best in the segment with a true luxury look and feel. This top trim also features great 10-way power adjusted driver and front passenger seats that are also heated with a memory recall function. The multifunction steering wheel is leather-wrapped, as is the shift knob and piano black plastics can be found on the center console and dashboard, a dash that looks very good now. In the middle and center of the dash, at the top, there’s the screen heading up the very good and intuitive infotainment system. It’s a pretty cool housing design that has the control dial and buttons under it. On the entry-level dash this screen isn’t fitted, but instead a display for the audio system. On all Ford Escape models, below the these controls you’ll find the dual zone automatic climate control, and that too has a great layout with buttons that are easily identifiable and within in easy reach of both driver and passenger. All plastics are now soft-touch. The gauge cluster also looks good with a separated tachometer and speedometer with a driver information screen in the centre. The screen is adequate, but really should be bigger especially when you see what rival and other automakers are using these days.
Once you open the trunk with the electronic lift gate you’ll see some good cargo space and that can be extended thanks to the rear folding seats with a 60/40 split.
During the refresh the shifter and park brake was relocated compared to the old shape, freeing up a little more usable space. There’s now space for two average water bottles alongside the shift lever and it’s easily accessible. The console between the seats has been made bigger, so everyday items have a stash spot with easy access, and if you want to store your sunglasses, there’s a compartment up top by the interior lights. Passenger space is okay at best, three average sized adults can fit in the rear but it will be a tight fit, it’s best for two as then there’s easy access to the fold down armrest that also allows storage of two average-sized water bottles. Once you open the trunk with the electronic lift gate you’ll see some good cargo space and that can be extended thanks to the rear folding seats with a 60/40 split. These seats fold down to be properly flat if more space is needed. The overall cargo space is good for its class, however if more is needed then it would be best to look at the bigger Ford Edge, Flex or Explorer models.
The Ford Escape has got good acceleration off the line and there is also very little body roll on the car.
Ford claims the Escape features the best handling in its class, because it really does. The Ford Escape has got good acceleration off the line and there is also very little body roll on the car, which is impressive considering the vehicle’s relative height. While it is good, there’s no doubt, it makes us wonder if Ford have actually seen what the competition is offering and more importantly, driven their cars because the Mazda CX-5 feels like it has a much sportier handling. The steering is direct though, but does feel a little soft and the way it constantly wants to return to center can get a little annoying. On that note, annoying is usually how we describe a start/stop system but in the refreshed Ford Escape this system is hardly noticeable, and if you do manage to feel it and you’re not happy, you can turn it off.
The models equipped with the 1.5-liter and the 2.0-liter engines.
While the entry Escape S features a decently sized 2.5-liter engine, it does feel a little too tame for the body it’s fitted in, that said the drive is still smooth. The models equipped with the 1.5-liter and the 2.0-liter engines are better with more punch, the latter being the obvious pick of the bunch. Both offer decent performance even with a full complement of passengers on board. These two engines can also be had with the optional (at $1,750) all-wheel drive system, which is quite good. Most cars in this class will never see use off the beaten track, but the car is capable when needed. Still, the Ford Escape is best used on paved roads and offers a good quality drive, even on the optional 19-inch wheels. As expected, the best drive comes from the bigger 2.0 turbocharged powerplant which can be had for a mere $1,295 more than the smaller engine making it an easy and affordable choice. If you need to tow, the 2.0-liter can tow up to 3,500lbs.
For just $1,500 more you can have the new motor that was introduced with the refresh on the Ford Escape.
A 2.5-liter five-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 168-hp and 170 lb-ft of torque powers the base model Ford Escape S. Ordinarily this power would be ok, but while the Escape is classed as a compact crossover, the motor doesn’t feel strong enough to get it around without frustration. For just $1,500 more you can have the new motor that was introduced with the refresh on the Ford Escape. This new engine is better thanks to it being a turbocharged unit and while it may measure in with a smaller capacity at just 1.5-liters, the turbocharger means the power is good and on par with the larger unit but lighter when it comes to consumption. The new unit produces 179-hp and 177 lb-ft of torque.
For an extra $1,300 you can choose the all-wheel drive system, but this can only me mated to either of the turbocharged engines.
While the 1.5-liter motor costs just $1,500 more than the five-cylinderone, the best motor of the lot is also affordable. If you want the biggest and most powerful engine in the line-up, you’ll first need to choose the Ford Escape SE and then option the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and then you’ll need to pay the same, just on $1,500 more. With pricing like this it makes you wonder why the 2.5-liter version is even an option because no one with any sense would take it. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine makes 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, and this can get the Escape from 0-60 in 7-seconds. For an extra $1,300 you can choose the all-wheel drive system, but this can only me mated to either of the turbocharged engines. As for transmissions, there is just one available for all three trims, a nice and smooth six-speed automatic that also makes use of paddle shifters. As with just about every modern automatic, changes are smooth and precise no matter if you’re cruising of putting your foot flat to get somewhere in a hurry. The normally aspirated 2.5-liter five-cylinder is rated at using 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway; the 1.5-liter is rated at 23 mpg for the city and 30 mpg on the highway and the 2.0-liter is rated at the same. The all-wheel drive option will see these figures increase, but marginally so.
Being a refresh, the Ford Escape has a new, very good assortment of features and specification.
Being a refresh, the Ford Escape has a new, very good assortment of features and specification. The touch screen for the infotainment system is within easy reach of the driver or front passenger, this is where you will control features like Android Auto, Apple CarPlay as well as the navigation and the audio system. Oddly, there’s no Wi-Fi hotspot in the Ford Escape, which really should be standard equipment, especially in the top trim Titanium. Other features spread across the three trims include the likes of pots-crash alerts, stability control, blind spot monitoring and a complement of airbags.
The large panoramic vista sunroof is an optional extra too at $1,500.
Optional features for the Ford Escape include systems like adaptive cruise control ($595), a Class 2 trailer tow prep package for $495 that includes trailer sway technology and a pricey but worthy $2,000 Equipment Package that gives the Escape enhanced park assist with parallel parking and reverse perpendicular parking, forward and side sensing systems and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Also included is USB charging that charges twice as fast as before. The large panoramic vista sunroof is an optional extra too at $1,500, but this really should also be standard in the Titanium trim. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the Ford Escape a Good overall rating with only an Acceptable rating for the headlights and in the case of a small overlap front-end crash.
There’s no denying the automaker has done good with this updated Ford Escape. What was already a very good car has been honed and refined into a fairly impressive all-rounder. The problem is, a vast majority of the Ford Escape’s competitors are also very good, with vehicles like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 being the most clear-cut examples of this. As comprehensive as the update was, the Ford Escape doesn’t quite do enough to pull out a noticeable lead on its chief competition. Not that this should put you off a Ford Escape, though. As we’ve stated, it’s a very good all-rounder, and we feel it should be worthy of consideration. However, we do reckon you should also look at the car’s other (and, in quite a few cases, more affordable) rivals before committing to a Ford Escape purchase.