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2015 Ford Escape: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2015

The 2015 Ford Escape compact crossover SUV combines sporty good looks with cutting-edge technology, appealing engine options and a high fun-to-drive factor. The Escape also offers features found in few other vehicles in this price range, including a rear cargo door that opens automatically when you wave your foot under the bumper. The Escape can even parallel-park itself. Whether you're hauling people or stuff, you'll find the roomy Escape to be an exceptionally accommodating companion.

What's New for 2015?

The Escape is largely unchanged this year.

What We Like

Sleek styling; powerful yet fuel-efficient turbocharged engines; SYNC voice-activated infotainment system; class-leading technology, including available MyFord Touch

What We Don't

Advanced tech reserved for pricier Escapes; firm ride in Titanium model with optional 19-inch wheels

How Much?

$23,855-$30,140

Fuel Economy

All Escape models employ a 6-speed automatic transmission. The entry-level Escape S is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 168 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive is not available with the 2.5-liter engine.

Next up is the SE, which comes standard with the 2.5 but offers a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. With the 1.6-liter turbo, fuel economy checks in at 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

Optional on the SE and standard on the Titanium is a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with an impressive 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

Premium fuel is recommended for the EcoBoost engines. Using regular fuel will slightly reduce power to compensate for the lower-octane mix.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Ford Escape is offered in three trim levels: S, SE and Titanium.

The base Escape S ($23,855) includes cruise control, air conditioning, a rearview camera, the SYNC voice-command system, Bluetooth, a 6-speaker stereo with an auxiliary input jack, reclining rear seats, the MyKey programmable key fob (which lets parents set limits on radio volume and top speed) and 17-in steel wheels with plastic covers.

The SE ($26,545) adds 17-in alloy wheels, exterior keypads for the door locks, satellite radio, a power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, fog lights, automatic headlights and the turbocharged 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine.

Options for the SE include a panoramic glass moonroof, voice-activated navigation, a power cargo door with motion-sensing activation, 18-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate controls, upgraded SYNC with AppLink smartphone integration, and MyFord Touch with an 8-in touchscreen, a 9-speaker audio upgrade, dual USB ports and an SD-card reader.

The Titanium ($30,140) tacks on most of the SE's standard and optional niceties along with keyless entry/start and Sony audio with 10 speakers. Options include the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, parking sensors, bi-xenon headlights and a blind spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert. The Titanium can also be equipped with a nifty automated self-parking system that takes the guesswork (and effort) out of parallel parking.

All-wheel drive is available on the SE and Titanium at extra cost.

Safety

Every 2015 Escape has Ford's Personal Safety System and Safety Canopy System, which includes side-impact airbags in front, side-curtain airbags and a driver-knee airbag. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with stability control help keep the Escape moving in the direction you intend even when things get slippery.

The Escape earned four out of five stars in government crash tests, including four stars for frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts.

Behind the Wheel

The 2015 Escape feels rigid and tight over bumps, and the elevated driving position engenders a sense of confidence and control. The seats feel a bit narrow but are supportive and comfortable. At highway speeds, the Escape's cabin is remarkably quiet, and the quality materials and trim give it a classy vibe.

The Escape's taut suspension settings imbue this little SUV with a sporty character, not unlike the related Focus hatchback. We like the ride on the mainstream Escape models, but the Titanium's optional 19-in wheels have a tendency to magnify road imperfections. They certainly look cool, though. Just make sure you also try the Titanium's standard 18s, if you're trying to decide.

The base 2.5-liter engine is competent enough, but it's the EcoBoost engines that really make the Escape zip along. The 1.6-liter engine is more than satisfying in both its power delivery and fuel consumption, while the Titanium's optional 2.0-liter turbo provides acceleration on par with some luxury crossovers. Customers accustomed to having a V6 under the hood will have a particularly hard time resisting the 2.0-liter EcoBoost.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Honda CR-V -- Considered by many to be the gold standard in compact crossovers, the CR-V has a well-deserved reputation for reliability, an area where the Escape has yet to prove itself.

2015 Toyota RAV4 -- The RAV4 is projected to hold its value better than the Escape, and the current model offers an extra dose of interior style.

2015 Subaru Forester -- The Forester doesn't handle as well as the Escape, but the turbocharged XT model has even more power than the EcoBoost 2.0.

Used Audi Q5 -- A certified pre-owned (CPO) Q5 can be had for the price of a well-equipped Escape, and with Audi's CPO warranty, it's almost like getting a new luxury crossover.

Autotrader's Advice

While we love all the extra tech goodies in the Titanium model, its price seems at odds with the reason most people buy a smaller SUV: affordability. We think the SE trim with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine is the most sensible choice.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Ford Escape: New Car Review - Autotrader