The Ford Escape is still an excellent crossover and a solid choice for a huge group of buyers - from the base $23,000 Escape S to the loaded Titanium AWD 2.0-liter EcoBoost, there is really something for everyone.
But has time been kind to the Escape -- in a segment filled with new entries like the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue?
Let's dive in with a structure of Exterior, Interior, Powertrain and Summary.
The style of the Escape still looks great even three years since the car's first appearance on the market. It is a reassuring and lasting design quality from every angle, but there are cracks in the armor of the Escape these days.
The LED lighting accent in the headlights is only available on the Titanium trim level, which is a real let-down when pricing up an Escape on Ford.com. It seems like a trivial thing, but it really isnt. If I were in the market for a new car, that would be a deal-breaker.
Secondly, the Escape looks best on large wheels - so the 18-inchers would be mandatory equipment for me. Upgrading the the chrome 19-inchers is very pricey and requires further extra equipment. The 19-inch wheels are chrome too, which is not appealing these days. Nor is the new Chrome Appearance Pack for 2014 that Ford is plugging for $1500 extra.
Besides the omission of the LED lighting, the SE is still pretty stylish at its $26,000 base price. But as equipped like mine in the Builder below, it does not look at all like a good value for $33,000.
The interior has similar issues. It is a decent overall layout and design, and is fun to drive overall. But its materials are just bad these days versus even the RAV4, and isolation and noise suppresion are also far, far behind where they should be. It is noisy.
Secondly, the equipment options inside really jack up the price to an obscene level.
The moonroof at $1500 is a good feature to have, and the SYNC with MyFord Touch and Navigation is really a mandatory option in my book. This is the second-best system, only one rung below the not-recommended Sony unit. SYNC with MyFord Touch comes on the SE, but upgrading to Nav costs a further $800.
Sport seats require the leather package, which is a total rip-off once you have felt how low-quality and un-premium the Ford leather is these days.
The German fake leathers and high-tech fabrics all feel nicer than what Ford claims is genuine leather.
Overall, the Escape is a solid family car inside with lots of room. All the surfaces have that "wipe-down" durability that was long a Subaru 'feature.' That is a really back-handed compliment, however, and a nice way of saying it is very cheap and nasty inside.
The back seat is especially uncomfortable and thinly padded, but the front seats are not good either. They are too small for any support.
Not great news for the Escape inside - but overall, my recommendation would be to add as few options as possible. What can feel okay in the $28,000 ballpark becomes totally off-putting if the price is $35,000.
Lastly on the interior front, these stuffed-animal doggie props are a fun treat and were welcome for their reinforcement of the Escape's family adventure potential. Worth noting, though, is that my real-life dog Drake was also a Ford Escape model last Fall up in Chicago.
He did not like the Escape's back seat -- his paws kept falling through the gaps in the seat base, causing whelps of pain.
The Escape is still a solid-handling and relatively fun drive versus many in its segment, even at the cheap spec levels.
Our previous experience with the Escape has only been this same middle-rung engine setup: the 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder making just 20 or so extra horsepower and pound-feet of torque more than the base 2.5-liter (Non-turbo) engine.
As a front-drive 1.6-liter EcoBoost model, the sprint time drops only marginally - about half a second from 9.5-seconds down to 9.0-seconds - neither of which are very good. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost is more potent but still not quite as quick as it should be -- times below 8.0 seconds are only possible with the FWD model. Oddly, the AWD Escape 2.0L EcoBoost is back up in the 8.5-second range.
Too slow when you consider the cost of upgrading. Perhaps too slow overall.
The engine confusion and acceleration malaise is important because the Escape's main issue is that it prices itself too far into the $30,000 range very, very easily with some of the options that I would select -- including the largest engine.
|2.5L Duratec||1.6L EcoBoost®||2.0L EcoBoost|
|Engine type||2.5L iVCT I-4||1.6L Ti-VCT GTDI I-4||2.0L Ti-VCT GTDI I-4|
|Drive type||Front-Wheel Drive (FWD)||Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) or optional Intelligent 4WD||Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) or optional Intelligent 4WD|
|Exhaust||Dual-pipe, hidden||Dual-pipe with polished tips||Dual-pipe with polished tips|
|Transmission type||6-speed SelectShift Automatic||6-speed SelectShift Automatic||6-speed SelectShift Automatic|
|Horsepower (SAE net@rpm)||168* @ 6000||178* @ 5700||240* @ 5500|
|Torque (lb.-ft.@rpm)||170 @ 4500||184 @ 2500||270 @ 3000|
|Valve lifters||Direct acting mechanical bucket||Direct acting mechanical bucket||Direct acting mechanical bucket|
|Engine block material||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum|
|Cylinder head material||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum|
|Induction system||Naturally aspirated||Turbocharged||Turbocharged|
|Fuel delivery||Sequential multi-port electronic fuel injection||Direct injection||Direct injection|
|Fuel (minimum)||Regular unleaded||Regular unleaded||Regular unleaded|
|EPA-Estimated Ratings FWD (Actual mileage will vary)||22 City/31 Hwy/25 Combined mpg||23 City/32 Hwy/26 Combined mpg||22 City/30 Hwy/25 Combined mpg|
|EPA-Estimated Ratings Four Wheel Drive (Actual mileage will vary)||-||22 City/30 Hwy/25 Combined mpg||21 City/28 Hwy/24 Combined mpg|
|*Figures achieved using 93-octane premium unleaded gasoline.|
So, not a great day out for the Ford Escape. Overall - the little truck still has a lot going for it. A $2000 discount is available across all trims for cash buyers, but this is too little and too late to sway my opinion.
If you love the style, you might be willing to stump for the pricey options and be willing to overlook the uncomfortable seating and bumpy, noisy ride.
But in 2014, there are far better options out there -- including the Mazda CX-5 and the new Nissan Rogue.
Overall, we give the Ford Escape 1.6L EcoBoost SE FWD a disappointing C+.
Front-Wheel Drive/Four-Wheel Drive
Vehicle height (without options) (in.)
Vehicle width with mirrors (in.)
Vehicle width without mirrors (in.)
Vehicle width with mirrors folded (in.)
Track, front (in.)
Track, rear (in.)
Fuel Economy and Engine Highlights
2.5L Duratec I-4
1.6L EcoBoost™ I-4
2.0L EcoBoost™ I-4
EPA-Estimated Ratings (Actual mileage will vary)
22 City/31 Hwy
FWD: 23 City/32 Hwy
4WD: 22 City/30 Hwy
FWD: 22 City/30 Hwy
4WD: 21 City/28 Hwy
Capacities: Passengers, Luggage, Fuel
Passenger volume (cu. ft.)
Cargo volume (cu. ft.)
Behind 1st row
Behind 2nd row
Fuel capacity (gal.)