The Ford Escape is a known quantity by now — the current model debuted all the way back in 2012 — but this crossover is still worth a look despite the bumper crop of newer metal in this price and size category.
Ford’s Escape is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost inline-four pumping out a respectable 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. This doesn’t sound like a lot on paper, in an age when any self-respecting hot hatch has to break the 250 hp mark, but the tiny 1.5-liter does good work with a six-speed automatic. The steering is perhaps the best aspect of the Escape’s handling; it’s light when it needs to be and remarkably responsive, making it easy to fly around some back roads. This crossover is surprisingly nimble, the four-pot offering good-enough acceleration at a moment’s notice, and the chassis is well balanced.
When it comes to handling the only area where I would take off some points is the ride quality over broken pavement. The body itself responds well but the tires have a tendency to dribble over rough spots. This places it about mid-pack when it comes to the competition — there aren’t that many crossovers in this price category that can do an impression of a BMW X5 — but the Escape is not particularly out-of-touch. The quick handling more than makes up for this lapse, and it does not really detract from the overall impressions of this crossover.
The interior is still made up of Ford parts bin items with generous helpings of black plastic. If you’ve been inside a Focus during the past decade you’ll find the cabin familiar to the point of thinking that Ford just upsized everything by 50 percent. This is actually a welcome quality — the ergonomics are great, and so is the visibility with the slightly cab-forward A-pillars.
On the highway the Escape mutes out wind and road noise well — it’s still mid-pack in this category — and the 1.5-liter does not need to strain itself with high revs to get up to highway speeds. For those looking for more boost in their EcoBoost, the Escape is also offered with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost good for 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. A highway rating of 30 mpg is easy to surpass with this engine and the 23 mpg city rating is equally tame: I managed to get 30 mpg in some mixed everyday driving, which is pretty good for something that doesn’t have a lithium-ion battery stashed somewhere.
The SE model features a turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder pumping out 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque
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The infotainment system is where the Escape begins to show its age and price, though if you’re not a car shopper who makes purchase decisions on the size of a vehicle’s touchscreen you’re not going to be disappointed. To be clear, it is not from 2012 — Ford now fits these with the updated Sync 3 system.
The Escape SE FWD version that I drove starts at $25,995 but with a few must-have options such as leather seating surfaces, a power liftgate, blind-spot system and other wagon-style goodies the total comes out to $30,870. Despite a deeper bench of competitors than at any time in human history, the Escape still deserves a look even though Ford must be thinking about a replacement in addition to bringing the even-smaller Fiesta-based Ecosport to the U.S. The Escape is just plain fun, and it’s one of the few crossovers that I would have preferred to drive for a far longer period of time.
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $25,995
As Tested Price: $30,870
Powertrain: 1.5-liter turbocharged DOHC I4, FWD, six-speed automatic transmission
Output: 179 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 177 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,576
Fuel Economy: 23/30/26(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Observed Fuel Economy: 26
Pros: Nimble handling, great ergonomics, versatile interior, easy to predict road manners.
Cons: Slightly dated inside, not quick to 60 mph, clunky infotainment system, pricey in this segment.