New Car Review
2017 Ford Escape: New Car Review
The 2017 Ford Escape is a star player in a crowded compact crossover world. It offers appealing engines, decent cargo space, the option of all-wheel drive and a nice line in technology. For example, a rear cargo door that opens automatically when a foot is waved under the bumper. The Escape can even parallel park itself.
And it comes with a built-in fun factor, because it's based on the Ford Focus. That's why the chassis manages to have a sporty personality but can still remain comfortable. That latter consideration is also important; fun factors aren't such a big deal when there's a kid asleep in the child seat.
What's New for 2017?
There's been a substantial update that includes a restyled nose and tail, plus two new turbocharged engines with stop/start functions. An electronic parking brake replaces the mechanical one and opens up some more stowage space. Joining the options list is an array of advanced safety features, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
What We Like
Powerful yet efficient turbocharged engines; welcoming cabin; Sync voice-activated infotainment system; well-tuned suspension
What We Don't
Higher tech reserved for pricier versions; Titanium model's optional 19-in wheels result in a firm ride
All Escapes use a 6-speed automatic transmission. The entry-level S is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 168 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 21 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined. All-wheel drive is not available with this engine.
Moving up to the SE means a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy checks in at 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
An upgraded 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with an impressive 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque is optional in the SE and the Titanium. Fuel economy is 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 23 mpg city/20 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
Ford recommends using premium fuel with the EcoBoost engines. Regular fuel will reduce power output slightly because of the lower octane.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 Ford Escape is offered in S, SE and Titanium trim levels.
The base S ($24,645) includes cruise control, tilt/telescope steering wheel, air conditioning, rearview camera, LED taillights, integrated blind spot mirror, Sync voice command system, Bluetooth, 6-speaker audio system with a 4.2-in screen and USB port, reclining rear seats, MyKey programmable key fob (which allows parents to set limits on radio volume and top speed) and 17-in steel wheels with plastic covers.
SE ($26,145) adds 17-inch alloy wheels, upgraded cloth upholstery, rear center armrest, exterior keypads for the door locks, satellite radio, 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, fog lights, automatic headlights, and the turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine.
Options for the SE include roof rails, panoramic sunroof, voice-activated navigation, rear parking sensors, 18-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate controls, 110-volt power outlet, upgraded Sync 3 system with AppLink smartphone integration and an 8-inch touchscreen, 9-speaker audio upgrade, two USB ports and an SD card reader.
Titanium ($30,145) packs most of the SE's standard and optional equipment along with keyless entry/start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable front passenger seat, power tailgate with motion-sensing activation, and an upgraded Sony audio system with 10 speakers.
Options include the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, panoramic sunroof, parking sensors, navigation, bi-xenon headlights, driver attention alert, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, lane-keeping assistance, and a blind spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert. Titanium models can also be equipped with an automated self-parking system that takes the guesswork (and effort) out of parallel and perpendicular parking.
All-wheel drive is available on the SE and Titanium at extra cost.
Cargo space with the rear seats up is 34.3 cu ft. That expands to 67.8 cu ft (pretty good for the class) when a one-touch lever folds those seats down.
Every Escape has Ford's Personal Safety System and Safety Canopy System, which includes side impact airbags in front, side-curtain airbags and a driver-side knee airbag. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and traction/stability control are also part of the standard safety equipment inventory.
The Escape scored four out of five stars in government crash tests; four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Escape its top score of Good for moderate-overlap frontal offset, side impact and roof strength crash tests. It was also awarded Good for whiplash protection during rear collisions, but took the lowest score of Poor in the small-overlap frontal offset test (which has proved to be tricky for many vehicles).
Behind the Wheel
The Escape feels taut and together over bumps. The elevated driving position brings a feeling of confidence and control as well as good vision. The seats feel a bit narrow, but they're still supportive and comfortable. At highway speeds, the cabin is remarkably quiet, while quality materials add to a generally upscale impression.
Ride quality in the mainstream models is excellent. The Titanium's optional 19-in wheels look cool, but have a tendency to amplify road imperfections. Just make sure to try the Titanium's standard 18-in wheels for comparison.
The base 2.5-liter engine is competent enough, but it's the EcoBoost engines that really bring the zip. The 1.5-liter engine is more than satisfying in both power delivery and fuel consumption, while the Titanium's optional 2.0-liter turbo provides acceleration similar to some luxury crossovers. Drivers accustomed to V6 power will find this engine hard to resist.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Honda CR-V -- A big seller and deservedly so. Highly capable, but not so thrilling to drive.
2017 Toyota RAV4 -- The range includes a hybrid. In general, the RAV4 is projected to hold its value better than the Escape.
2017 Mazda CX-5 -- As good to drive as the Escape. Deserves to be on any buyer's short list.
2017 Kia Sportage -- Good looks, great warranty. Worth checking out.
Used Ford Edge -- More space, bigger engines, still entertaining to drive.
Titanium trim breaks the $30,000 barrier. The SE trim with the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine is more accessible and leaves some wiggle room for a choice of options.