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2016 Ford Escape: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2016

The 2016 Ford Escape is one of the few compact crossover SUVs to come with a built-in fun factor. It's based on the Ford Focus, which explains why the chassis manages to have a sporty personality but can still remain comfortable. The second consideration is also important, because fun factors aren't such a big deal when there's a kid asleep in the child seat.

Luckily, the Escape also offers some appealing engines, decent cargo space, the option of all-wheel drive and a nice line in technology. For example, this model has a rear cargo door that opens automatically when a foot is waved under the bumper. The Escape can even parallel-park itself.

A 2017 model is imminent. It's not strictly a new generation, but it is substantially refreshed. However, if this 2016 model works for you, here's a closer look.

What's New for 2016?

The Escape has a revised rear suspension for 2016. A new touchscreen-based infotainment system, SYNC 3, replaces the less user-friendly MyFord Touch. And the standard audio system no longer has an auxiliary input.

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-inch wheels result in a firm ride

How Much?

$24,485-$30,890

Fuel Economy

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 22 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined. All-wheel drive is not available with this engine.

Moving up to the SE means a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy checks in at 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.

A 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with an impressive 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque is optional in the SE and the Titanium. Fuel economy is 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.

Ford recommends using premium fuel with the EcoBoost engines. Regular fuel will reduce the power output slightly because of the lower octane.

Standard Features & Options

The Escape is offered in S, SE and Titanium trim levels.

The base S ($24,485) includes cruise control, air conditioning, a rearview camera, an integrated blind spot mirror, a SYNC voice command system, Bluetooth, a 6-speaker audio system, reclining rear seats, a MyKey programmable key fob (which allows parents to set limits on radio volume and top speed) and 17-in steel wheels with plastic covers.

The SE ($26,685) adds 17-in alloy wheels, upgraded cloth upholstery, a rear center armrest, 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 roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, voice-activated navigation, 18-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate controls, a 110-volt power outlet, an upgraded SYNC system with AppLink smartphone integration and an 8-in touchscreen, a 9-speaker audio upgrade, dual USB ports and an SD-card reader.

The Titanium trim ($30,890) packs most of the SE's standard and optional equipment, along with keyless entry/starting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power adjustable front passenger seat, a power tailgate with motion-sensing activation and an upgraded Sony audio system with 10 speakers. Options include the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, a panoramic sunroof, parking sensors, navigation, bi-xenon headlights 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 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 1-touch lever folds those seats down.

Safety

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's-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, and the elevated driving position brings a feeling of confidence and control, as well as good visibility. The seats feel a bit narrow, but they're still supportive and comfortable. At highway speeds, the cabin is remarkably quiet, and the 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 1.6-liter engine is more than satisfying in both power delivery and fuel consumption, while the Titanium's optional 2.0-liter turbo provides acceleration that's similar to some luxury crossovers. Drivers who are accustomed to V6 power will find this engine hard to resist.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Honda CR-V -- The CR-V is a big seller (and deservedly so). It's highly capable but not so thrilling to drive.

2016 Toyota RAV4 -- The RAV4 was refreshed for 2016, and the range now includes a hybrid. It's projected to hold its value better than the Escape.

2016 Mazda CX-5 -- The CX-5 is as good to drive as the Escape. It was refreshed for 2016 with more refinement. This model deserves to be on any buyer's short list.

2016 Kia Sportage -- The Sportage has good looks and a great warranty. It's worth checking out.

Used Ford Edge -- The Edge has more space and bigger engines, and it's still entertaining to drive.

Autotrader's Advice

While the extra tech gadgets in the Titanium model are wonderful, most people buy smaller SUVs based on price. The SE trim with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine is a sensible choice. If you can bear to wait, the 2017 model will no doubt be more attractive -- although that could be the perfect time to get a sweet deal on the 2016 Ford Escape.

Find a Ford Escape for sale

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Used 2016 Ford Escape 4WD Titanium
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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.
2016 Ford Escape: New Car Review - Autotrader