2017 Ford Escape review: Near the top of the heap
This Ford Escape Titanium still impresses in terms of styling and cabin layout. Of course, the interior is similar to what you’d find in a Ford Focus, meaning you’ll find Ford’s improved Sync 3 working the infotainment system — it’s a lot better than MyFord Touch on older Ford products.
But that’s not really what’s important about the new Escape. This crossover’s prowess is, oddly enough, under the hood. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost is incredibly peppy. So much so that Ford engineers should have considered something to help keep torque steer down. Admittedly, it isn’t as bad as the Ford Focus ST in that department, but the automatically shifted car will pull the wheels to the right when you’re heavy on the throttle.
Steering is light and generally OK unless you have Ford’s lane keep assist active, which I found to be both intrusive and unresponsive. Somehow walking the line between frustratingly moving your wheel when you’re trying to correct the car’s trajectory and not helping you when you’re trying to push the system to its limits, it doesn’t really work that well, for me. Admittedly, the road surface where I tested the Escape’s system wasn’t even close to perfect, so that might have made the system less responsive.
Of the small crossovers, this Ford is probably one of the most fun to drive for speed freaks even if I still prefer the handling of the Mazda CX-5. The suspension is soft and set up for pothole duty, which is fine, but it induces a lot of roll and dive — also fine for the folks that will probably be buying this car. Now, tell me when the Escape RS comes out.
–Wes Wren, associate editor
The 2017 Ford Escape gets the Sync 3 system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
I hadn’t driven a Ford Escape in more than a year, so I was interested in what this latest one had to offer. Right off the bat, it heats up quickly (in less than 10 minutes) with the automatic start. That’s a huge bonus for us living in the northern states and makes carting the infant around much less painful for both me and the wife.
The Escape has a little more ground clearance than expected, but it didn’t seem to affect the load height that much. It was easy to throw things in the cargo area, and bouncing the car seat into the base in the backseat was just as simple. Mrs. Road Test editor is currently looking into on of these to replace her returning lease. I don’t see a reason, at this moment, that we’d need any more room than what this car offers.
Like young Wes said, this car is quick. It’s probably even a little overkill for most small SUV buyers. It looks like the 245-hp four is a $1,345 option, so it could be ditched relatively easily for the smaller 1.5-liter EcoBoost four. The wife is also going to skip the 19-inch rollers for something less flashy, saving about $700 bucks, but we do want all-wheel drive, which costs $1,750. But I digress.
The 2-liter will shoot you off the line with ease, allowing you to get in front of traffic, and the six-speed is smooth all the way through the range. This model was equipped with paddle shifters, but I never felt the need to play around with them. This just isn’t the car for that. Ford does well with steering weight and feel, even with the electronic power steering, and this Escape continues the trend. Moving the wheel takes a little effort, which is good, and the chassis feels nimble when changing lanes. I didn’t think to avoid any potholes, and none surprised me with any crashing noises inside the cockpit.
The refreshed, 2017 Escape has a bigger upper grille than the outgoing model and a smaller lower portion. The foglight cutouts are smaller too, but overall the whole package looks better to me. I’d skip the black cladding around the bottom of the car, or maybe just pick a black exterior, so it wouldn’t stand out as much.
The cabin is well equipped and decently comfortable, but it doesn’t feel like $35,000 worth of stuff. The leather seats are more rigid than soft, and the buttons and finishes just feel average to me. The radio/infotainment worked fine, but it takes a few minutes to get Apple CarPlay going if you’re starting the car up and backing out of a spot using the rearview camera. I’m guessing it’s a safety thing, but I’d love for any of these cars to just go right into my podcast, where I left off on my way to the car. It’s a small complaint.
In the small-SUV segment, I like this Escape, though I might pick a cheaper one with fewer options. I like the Mazda CX-3 and CX-5, as well. Those would be my top two picks. The Honda CR-V feels both bigger and more upscale inside, but it’s a little bit more expensive.
–Jake Lingeman, road test editor
Options: Equipment group 301A with Titanium technology package, enhanced active park assist, supplemental PTC heater ($1,995); 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine ($1,295); navigation ($795); 19-inch wheels ($695); adaptive cruise control ($595)
Base Price: $29,995
As Tested Price: $35,370
Powertrain: 2.0-liter DOHC turbocharged I4; FWD, six-speed automatic
Output: 245 hp @ 5,000 rpm; 275 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,613 lb
Fuel Economy: 22/29/25 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Low load height, comfortable interior, tons of power
Cons: Torque steer, worse mileage than expected, expensive