|Ford creates a more conventional looking Escape for 2017. Do you like it? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
It seemed like longer, but the third-generation Escape has only been with us since 2012. That model wasn’t exactly grille-less, but rather had less of a grille than the rectangular egg crate design attached to the more upright, boxier SUV that preceded it, the 2013 through 2016 model featuring a narrow slit just under the lip of hood, followed by a fairly large opening below the bumper that extended to each side in triangular grillettes.
|Some clever cladding added to the rear liftgate allows for a more complex design and new LED taillights. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Let’s face it. We all want something new. Not only new to us, but fresh enough on the market to get noticed. The new 2017 Escape should do that well enough, and more so its interior update should satisfy current owners who are happy with its general layout while providing ample change for those bored with the status quo. A quick glance at the dash design, primary instruments, door panels, centre stack, infotainment
|Six-sided grilles aren’t exactly unique, with Hyundai’s Tucson and a number of Subaru models already using versions of the same. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|New optional HID headlamps fall short of competitors’ LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I’m sure there are those who will knock Ford for providing a mid-cycle makeover when this five-plus year old model should really have received a full fourth-generation redesign, but a considerable drop in sales over the past two years and even more significant plunge in popularity may be more accurate satisfaction index markers.
The Escape had been number one in the compact SUV class as long as most could remember and was so far ahead just two years ago it seemed unbeatable. That was
|Optional 19-inch rims add to the Escape’s sporty image. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Things started to unravel for Ford at the close of 2016 when the Escape lost its top
|Blindspot monitoring joins Lane Keep Assist in top-line models. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
If you’ve been thinking this prologue would somehow segue into an all-out Escape bash, that’s not my intention in the slightest. In fact, I’ve long been a fan of the Escape and the new model hasn’t lost any of its shine. Certainly it’s up against a number
|New LED taillights offer a unique twist on the outgoing design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
To be clear, some key features most of its competitors changed with their redesigns remain the same with this newer Escape, particularly its longtime use of high-quality soft synthetics on commonly touched surfaces, its carryover TFT colour multi-information display within the primary gauge cluster, and its large Sync 3 infotainment touchscreen already boasting some of the industry’s best graphics and fastest speeds, now updated with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
|At first glance the updated Escape’s interior appears carryover, but that’s only partially true. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Take note, none of the Escape’s top-four rivals come close to matching this level of performance, and while its six-speed SelectShift automatic isn’t quite as advanced as some in the class, it’s a lot more engaging than competitive continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), plus its plenty smooth shifting and proven reliable. It features standard auto start/stop for 2017 too, helping front-wheel
|A new steering wheel and completely revamped lower console stand out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Of note, the updated Escape makes a new mid-range 1.5-litre turbocharged engine available that puts down a bit more power than its 1.6-litre predecessor while eking out even better mileage, the former at 179 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque and the latter at 10.2 L/100km city, 7.8 highway, 9.1 combined with FWD, or 10.7 city, 8.3 highway, and 9.6 combined, while the base FWD-only model’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder powerplant soldiers forward with a still respectable 168 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque and a hardly thirsty 11.1 L/100km city, 8.1 highway, 9.8 combined rating.
Along with its strong straight-line acceleration the Escape Titanium’s MacPherson strut front and double lateral link semi-trailing
|The Escape’s large colour multi-info display remains an impressive bit of tech kit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
All the while the Escape Titanium’s 10-way powered front seats held my partner and me in place securely, the leather not as
|Improved Sync 3 infotainment now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Additional Titanium upgrades include 18-inch alloys, LED signature lighting for the halogen projector-beam headlights, silver roof rails, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, a foot-activated hands-free powered liftgate, a perimeter alarm, one-touch-up/-down powered windows all-round, ambient lighting,
|This reworked dual-zone auto HVAC interface is now easier to modulate. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
You might immediately notice some features missing from my list, but don’t worry because fog lamps, an engine block heater, Ford’s industry-exclusive SecuriCode invisible keyless entry keypad, acoustic laminated front side glass, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, dual-zone auto climate control, satellite radio, and even an overhead sunglasses holder get pulled up from $27,599 mid-grade SE trim,
|The entire lower console is new, including the electric parking brake. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
If Ford left the top-line Titanium there it would be easy to poke holes in its lack of options, but fortunately you can deck it out with enough to make a person question why a premium badge is necessary at all, my Ingot Silver painted example
|Comfortable, supportive seats get upscale leather upholstery in Titanium trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Alternatively you can get a set of Ebony Black 19-inch rims as part of a $1,200 Titanium Sport Appearance Package that also includes the grille surround and insert, front and rear skid plates, headlamp and taillight bezels, front fender garnish, mirror caps, beltline moulding, and roof rails painted in glossy black, plus those partial leather sport seats mentioned earlier.
My tester included standard Charcoal Black full leather upholstery, although Medium Light Stone grey is a no-cost option, whereas $150 worth of all-weather floor
|A panoramic sunroof is always welcome. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Tech in mind, another upgrade I really appreciated was the $1,750 Titanium Technology Package (301A) that includes auto high beams for its upgraded HID headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, forward and side sensing, lane keeping assist with driver alert, and updated semi-autonomous self-parking capable of steering the Escape into perpendicular slots as well as parallel spots. Additionally, the Escape’s steering wheel wasn’t updated just for style, but now includes the option of adaptive cruise control switchgear, a $1,350 system that also includes autonomous forward collision mitigation.
|No shortage of rear seat roominess, the Escape is comfortable in all positions. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
All in all the Escape remains one of the better compact SUVs in its class, with a roomy interior that’s more than adequate for carrying big cargo thanks to 964 litres (34.0 cubic feet) of space behind its rear row, that’s expandable to 1,925 litres (68.0 cubic feet) when its 60/40-split seatbacks are folded flat (it can tow up to 1,587 kilos when the $500 Class II trailering package gets added too). That’s not quite as much cargo capacity as a RAV4, Rogue or CR-V, and the seats don’t fold
|A large utile cargo compartment isn’t quite as spacious as the class leaders. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
In the end, the Escape wouldn’t sell so well if it didn’t measure up. Consider for a moment that even with it slipping to second in its class last year and more recently fourth, it’s still more popular than 12 of its compact SUV competitors, and by a very wide margin. If you’re in the market for any one of the vehicles mentioned in this review, I recommend you spend some quality time with the latest Escape. It didn’t become so popular by accident.
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