The Ford Escape has been one of the best selling compact utility vehicles (CUV) you can buy in the U.S. With competition catching on to it's original formula the Escape lost ground to much better rivals. Now the Escape has been redesigned and given a much more attractive look. Will this be enough to win back those buyers? Or is it all style no substance?
Performance: There are three engines to choose from. Base trim gets a 2.5-liter four-cylinder producing 168hp. Mid-range is a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder producing 178hp. While the top of the range trim gets a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 240hp. Pick of the range is the mid-range 1.6, which makes the most sense. It's flexible and offers similar fuel economy as the 2.5, but the extra torque really does make a difference. Both 1.6 and 2-liter engines offer all-wheel-drive optional while the 2.5 is strictly front wheel drive only.
On the road: The Escape soaks up bumps quite well and has a smooth highway ride. Around town things can get a bit unsettled on some rough surfaces. The steering is nicely weighted and very responsive. Handling isn't as sharp as the CX-5, but the Escape manages to hold it's ground quite well.
Refinement: The engines feel very refined at low speeds and idle, even at cruising speeds on the highway. When you push the engines hard, it's presence will be known. This isn't a bad thing however, the lovely whirl from the turbo engines add a bit of sporty character. Some wind noise can be heard from the sides of the car at highway speeds, this isn't a deal breaker. The radio can drain this out. Road noise is well supressed.
Behind the wheel: The Escape offers supportive front seats. Visibility alround is excellent too. The dashboard layout is not very user friendly. It may take time to get used to the switchgear and vehicles equipped with MyFord have the fussy navigation system that takes a bit of getting use to.
Space & Practicality: There's plenty of room for both front and rear passengers to get comfortable. The optional sunroof doesn't eat into headroom either. With the seats up the boot space isn't the largets compared to rivals, but this isn't a deal breaker as there is 60/40 split folding seats to add extra cargo if needed.
Equipment: The Escape comes well equipped. All versions get air-con, CD-player and electric windows. You'll have to step up to the mid-range to get all-wheel-drive option. While top of the range trim adds larger alloy wheels. MyFord Sync system and LED daytime running lamps.
Buying & Owning: The Escape is cheaper than the Volkswagen Tiguan but slightly more expensive than the Mazda CX-5. The front-wheel-drive models are the cheapest to buy. We suggest sticking with those unless you really need the all-wheel-drive. You're better off paying the extra and get the titanium trim which offers it as standard. Running cost should be reasonable and resale value should hold up as the Escape has been very popular.
Quality & reliability: Reliability for the Escape has been a mere average. There have been a few recalls from Ford that should be looked into if you are considering buying the Escape. The fit and finish of the interior look and feel long lasting, the mechanicals are a bit iffy. The base trim materials feel a bit drab in areas and isn't as appealing as the more pricier irrations.
Safety: Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard across the range. All-wheel-drive is optional if you need the extra traction. Front and side curtain airbags are standard across the range as well. Deadlocks and a theft alarm keep theft at bay.
The Ford Escape has come a long way since it's previous generation. This Escape is more fun to drive, much more stylish and offers a much more compelling reason to consider one. However, the Escape isn't as fun to drive as a Mazda CX-5 and some trim levels just feel down right overpriced compared to keen rivals. If you can overlook these few negatives the Escape is a step forward for Ford and is worth a serious look.
Devon's Pick: Ford Escape SE 1.6 EcoBoost. You'll be surprised at how much this small engine has to offer in terms of fuel economy and performance. You won't really need the all-wheel-drive option unless you need the extra traction. With the all-wheel-drive the 2-liter EcoBoost is the better engine choice which isn't too much in terms of price from the 1.6 EcoBoost with all-wheel-drive.
Likes: Stylish exterior looks with room for five. 1.6 ecoboost engine offers a lot more than figures suggest.
Dislikes: Base trim interior feels drab. Not as engaging to drive as looks suggest. All-wheel-drive adds a hefty premium that's hard to justify. Dashboard design not very user friendly.