The Ford Escape is out and away one of the best SUVs you can buy today. It has remained at the top of the sales charts in the United States for the last few years. For good reason, its modern styling inside and out combined with class-leading performance and ride quality attract buyers across many demographics. This SUV blends utility with refinement like no other in the compact SUV segment. If we had to choose one SUV that has something for everyone, it would probably be the Ford Escape.
The truth is, a well-equipped Escape will cost more than most of the vehicles in the compact crossover class. The premium is made up for in refinement. We cannot stress how much better the ride comfort and quality in the Escape when compared with competitors. The Escape provides a level of sophistication normally reserved for the luxury market. There are many alternatives that offer more safety technology and better value per dollar. But if you’re looking for an SUV that’s both fun to drive and refined, the Escape represents incredible value.
The Escape has three available engines. The base model’s 2.5 Liter four cylinder and 1.5-liter turbocharged engine feel a little underpowered when compared with competitors. However, they get the job done and are suitable for most daily driving. The 2.0-liter twin scroll 4 cylinder is probably the best engine in the small SUV class. It produces 245 horsepower and makes the Escape the second quickest in the class, behind the Subaru Forester. It does so with a refined and sophisticated driving experience. This little SUV is fun to drive.
Not quite as fun as the CX-5 but more comfortable to live with daily. The transmission is well programmed and seldom leaves one flat footed. The massive amounts of torque available at just 3,000 revs ensure you always have the power you need. If you want to be even more confident you’ll have the power you need, the paddle shifters make for an even more enthralling experience. In fact, if you’re in the market for a BMW X1 or Audi Q3, we’d highly recommend the Titanium 2.0L Escape as a higher performing alternative with all the refinement you’d expect from a luxury SUV.
Climb in this little Ford and you’ll find an excellent escape from the stress of your day. The cabin is quiet with top notch fit and finish. The controls are well thought out and intuitive. Use of the Ford SYNC infotainment system is stress less. The voice control functions well for those who prefer Siri-like dictation to touching screens or turning knobs. The SYNC 3 system that’s available as an upgrade allows you to stream Spotify and use other app-based services via FordConnect. The ten speaker Sony sound system it’s paired with is enough to satisfy most music lovers. Both the cloth and leather-trimmed seats are wide and supportive.
While the optional sport seats offer superior bolstering, they may not accommodate larger adults. Second-row space is a little less than the CR-V and some other competitors yet can still accommodate two adults comfortably and handle three in a pinch. The bench reclines to increase headroom and comfort. 34 cubic feet of space behind the second row is enough for several suitcases and 68 with seats folded is near the top of the class. Even the larger, more expensive Ford Edge has just a few cubes more of space. You’ll have to use your hands to open the liftgate unless you tick a box that’s only available on the Titanium trim, but the low ride height makes loading simple. This Ford has one of the more user-friendly interiors in the class and the Titanium cabin rivals many luxury crossovers, we commend Ford’s improvement in this area.
The Escape’s latest iteration is essentially a rebadging of the Ford Kuga, one of Europe’s bestselling SUVs. In Europe, it is positioned as a luxury SUV and Ford Europe’s rich design language has proved wildly successful in the US market. The Escape’s persona has matured from small SUV with adolescent 4WD characteristics to a refined compact crossover with a premium cabin. It shows.
The Escape is stunning from every angle. The front features a prominent hexagonal grille between modern headlights with available LED running lamps that enhance the upscale persona. The sides slope gently upwards toward the rear, giving this crossover an athletic stance. The rear is well sculpted, with modern LED taillights and dual exhaust for symmetry. The Appearance Package available on the Titanium and SE trims gives the Escape a little more attitude with all the black accents and black wheels. Bottom line: we think the Escape is one of the most attractive crossovers on the market.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the Escape with top ratings in all but the small overlap crash test, which simulates a collision with a pole or tree on the driver side. Review of the video and examination of the photos from the crash test reveal the reason why. The dummy’s head makes partial contact with both the front and side airbag but carries its momentum between the airbag and into the gap between them. This is worrisome, there shouldn’t be a vulnerable angle of collision that reduces the effectiveness of these airbags. However, it’s safe to assume that any other angle would probably result in a safer outcome.
The NHTSA gives the Escape a 5-star overall rating with only the rollover category receiving 4, common in most SUVs. Unfortunately, most of the advanced safety features are only available in the top trim levels and Ford’s technology lags behind competitors in this category. However, the brakes and handling are better than average for the segment, which reduces the likelihood you’ll be involved in an accident in the first place. We’d give the Escape an acceptable safety rating overall because there are better alternatives if you’re looking for cutting edge safety technology.
Consumer Reports awards the Escape with a 3 out of 5 reliability rating, indicating average reliability. JD Power awards a 3.5 out of 5 predicted reliability rating which is a little better than most. Based on our research, we think these scores are accurate. The Escape has been around over a decade and the early models were plagued with problems. The recent models have steadily improved reliability since 2013. There are 102 Technical Service Bulletins issued by the NHTSA for the 2013 model year, it makes sense since it is a redesign year. Several of them are quite serious as they pertain to the powertrain. We’d avoid used 2013 models. 2014s weren’t too much better with 75 TSBs, 2015 and 2016 are much better with less than 35 TSBs.
A known issue with all Escapes as well as many other Ford models is a problem with the EGR valve, more specifically the differential pressure feedback sensor that fails and causes engine hesitation, stumbling, and loss of power. It’s pretty cheap to fix as it only requires replacing a sensor that is easily accessed, but not fixing it can cause serious engine damage. It’s a lesson we’ve learned from experience. There’s also a known issue with all 2014 and older 4WD models’ transfer case. If it develops a noise, the transfer case should be inspected. If it is damaged it should be replaced rather than rebuilt. For this reason, we’d avoid early 4WD models as well. Given the severity of several known problems, we’d recommend purchasing a 2015 or newer Escape if reliability is of concern.
The Honda CR-V is the heavyweight of the compact SUV class, so it’s the benchmark with which we will compare the Escape. First off, The CR-V has been completely redesigned and now offers Honda Sense safety technology suite standard in all models. Not only does the Escape not offer these features unless it’s on a top trim, their safety technology is inferior. So if these features are important to you, the CR-V is your best bet, without question. The second row and cargo space are ampler in the Honda as well. Both have comparable ride comfort and quality, with the Ford having a quieter cabin.
The CR-V is more efficient and receives top reliability scores. For basic transportation needs, it is the more prudent choice. What the Ford offers that the Honda lacks is a responsive, engaged driving experience. Acceleration is quicker and power more available in the 2.0L Escape. The suspension and handling offer more responsive steering and handling as well. If driving dynamics are a priority, the Escape is the stronger contender.
The Escape S has an MSRP of $23,750 and is the only escape with the 2.5 Liter 4 cylinder engine with variable cam timing, the higher trims receive the 1.5 Liter EcoBoost with auto stop-start or a 2.0 Liter twin scroll EcoBoost. The Escape S comes with a 6 speaker SYNC system with voice recognition, automatic headlamps, LED taillamps, remote keyless entry, and a rearview camera. The Escape SE starts at $25,250 and receives a different engine, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, upgraded 17in wheels, 10-way power driver seat, dual zone climate control, paddle shifters, 2 more cupholders, fog lamps, dual chrome exhaust tips, skid plates, and tinted rear windows. The 2.0L EcoBoost engine costs $1,345 and the intelligent 4WD is $1,750. A 201A equipment group package costs $1,395 and equips projector headlamps with LED signature lighting, 9-speaker sound system, one touch window operation, power converter 110V outlet, reverse sensing system, black roof rack side rails, and SYNC 3 with SYNC Connect.
The SE Sport Appearance Package equips 19 in black aluminum wheels, halogen projector headlamps with black bezel, LED signature running lights, black tinted taillamps, black front fender grille, black front and rear lower fascia, black roof rails, leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter, sporty V shaped partial leather seats, and gloss black fog lamp surrounds for $1,295. A panoramic sunroof is available for $1,496. Remote start costs $495. An SE Cold Weather Package provides a 110-volt power outlet, all-weather floor mats, heated mirrors, heated front seats, and heated wiper park. The SE Leather Comfort Package wraps the seats, steering wheel, and shift knob in leather and upgrades the mirrors for $1,595. Navigation is an extra $795. The Titanium trim arrives at $29,250 and adds a reverse sensing system, 18in wheels, leather-trimmed seats, power front passenger seat, driver seat memory function, 10-speaker Sony audio system, SYNC 3, SYNC Connect, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, power converter 110V outlet, ambient lighting, Intelligent Access with push button start, remote start, universal garage opener, upgraded mirrors, LED signature lighting, roof rack rails, hands-free power liftgate, and windshield wiper de-icer.
The 2.0L EcoBoost engine costs $1,345 and the intelligent 4WD is $1,750. A 301A Equipment Group includes auto high beams, enhance active park assist, bi-xenon HID headlights with LED signature running lights heated steering wheel, lane keep assist with driver alert system, rain-sensing wipers, and a supplemental PTC heater for $1,995. A trailering package is available for $495 but requires the 2.0L engine. The Titanium Sport Appearance Package is essentially the same as the SE Sport Appearance Package, yet costs $725. Adaptive cruise control with pre-collision assist costs $595. A sunroof is available for $1,495.
2017 Ford Escape S
2.5 L 4-cylinder 168 horsepower
21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy
2017 Escape SE/Titanium 1.5L
1,5 Liter EcoBoost 4 cylinder 179 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
23 mpg city/30 mpg hwy
2017 Escape SE/Titanium 2.0L
2.0 Liter EcoBoost Twin Scroll 4 cylinder 245 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
22 mpg city/29 mpg highway