|Positives: Reasonably quick acceleration, plenty of tech features and enough usable cargo space to be competitive in the segment.|
|Negatives: Odd controls for infotainment, seating position doesn't feel right and the electronically assisted steering offers very little road feel.|
|Bottom Line: The Ford Escape is a pretty good family CUV. It offers a high seating position allowing you to see the road and adequate driving characteristics on par with much of the competition as well as a lot of technology features. Despite its positives the Escape comes up short in our eyes. It doesn't inspire much confidence and the competition bests it in terms of cargo space, safety and driving enjoyment. It's an attractive CUV that's pretty good at just about everything, but not really good at anything.|
|View Our 2017 Ford Escape Overview|
As the crossover boom continues, there’s no doubt in our minds that the Ford Escape will continue to sell like hotcakes. However, we don’t think it’s the best CUV on the market. When you compare different stats with other vehicles around the segment, it becomes clear that the Escape isn’t leading the pack. It’s good at everything but not great. To find out how good the Escape really is, we drove it for a week. Here’s what we found.
Let’s face it, the person who buys an Escape isn’t after an extremely fun driving experience. The Escape isn’t fun to drive, and while it’ll get you wherever you need to be at a decent pace and in comfort and style, you’re not going to be bragging about how you drive an Escape. It’s just not exciting.
It is, however, practical and easy to drive. It offers decent handling characteristics and acceleration and while we weren’t thrilled with the electrically assisted steering we didn’t wholly dislike being in the driver’s seat. It does an adequate job in curves and a short stint on the highway showed us it can more than keep up with the other cars on the road.
Ride Quality: A little on the softer side than we remember the Escape being. It’s still isn’t limousine smooth by any means but the vehicle soaks up bumps reasonably well.
Acceleration: We thought the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine would be a little wimpy, but it really wasn’t. The engine certainly isn’t muscle car strong, but it shoots off the line with gusto and passing people on the highway isn’t too bad.
Braking: The brakes of the Escape are strong and progressive. We never felt that slowing or stopping was an issue.
Steering: We didn't care for the electronic steering of the Escape. It offered very little road feel and contributed to a very detached overall feel. In curves we had a little trouble placing the vehicle.
Handling: There’s a fair amount of body roll in the Escape. While it’s about on par for the crossover course, you won’t purposefully seek out fun roads to drive on.
The Escape is really all about two things: offering good comfort for a vehicle at this price and plenty of technology. It comes with plenty of tech both inside and out. The most impressive features are on the inside. Most notably is the Sync Connect system that’s new for the 2017 Escape. Sync Connect allows users to use FordPass to connect their phone and lock, unlock and start the vehicle remotely from their phone. Also, the system allows users to set climate controls before the driver gets in the car at a desired temperature, schedule a time for when the car should start, find open parking spaces, gas stations and convenience stores.
In addition to the new features available via Sync Connect, the Escape comes with Ford’s Sync 3 system which gives you access to all the infotainment features you’d expect like Sirius XM radio, Bluetooh connectivity and more.
Infotainment System: The system is impressive with tons of features and Ford's smooth Sync3 system. The 8 inch screen sits high on the dash and the touchscreen is of high quality.
Controls: While we loved all the features in the Escape’s infotainment system, the layout of the buttons didn’t really make sense and much of the system had to be controlled via the touchscreen which worked fine but was placed pretty high and far back on the dash. This means you have to stretch your arm pretty far to do even the slightest adjustment to the system.
Bluetooth Pairing: Pairing was quick and easy and reconnecting upon re-entry seamless.
Voice Call Quality: Calls were clear and we experienced no issues on either end.
Ford’s Escape has gone through several different generations and exterior upgrades over the years, and we think this version is one of the more attractive ones. The large grille and wraparound headlights dominate the front end. The redesigned front and rear of the vehicle fits better with the overall body style.
Front: Less layers than the previous model and a simple, large grille and signature LED headlights.
Rear: The LED taillights are the best looking part of the rear. The rear of the vehicle still has a tall and narrow look we don't particularly care for.
Profile: In profile, the Escape looks very similar to before. The new front manages to stand out a bit and give the vehicle a tougher overall look.
Cabin: The cabin of the Escape has never been beautiful and the 2017 model isn't much different. It's better than before but only a little bit.
If someone asked us if the Escape was comfortable, we’d say yes but with a caveat. The seats themselves are comfortable. The steering wheel feels nice in your hands. The armrest is well placed and padded. In essence, the Escape has everything you want. However, it all feels off. No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t get the seat positioned in a way that allowed us to comfortably reach the pedals, steering wheel and infotainment controls.
There’s plenty of seat adjustment and the seat is perfectly fine to sit in, but we always felt like we were reaching for something. When we finally picked as seating position, we noticed that we had to reach further than we would like to for the infotainment controls. In essence, the individual components of the cabin are comfortable, but the ergonomics of the interior aren't quite right. Perhaps a taller driver would feel more at home in the Escape, but we felt like everything was just a little bit off.
Front Seats: Seat cushioning and bolstering is good, and there’s a lot of support and adjustment.
Rear Seats: The rear seats also have plenty of cushioning and bolstering and are plenty spacious for adult riders.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Escape feels solid and quiet. There were no rattles or squeaks and you can whisper to a passenger if you want.
Visibility: Seeing out of the Escape is easy. Front, side and even rear visibility are good and anything you can’t see gets picked up by the rear view camera.
Climate: The controls for the air conditioning and heater are easy to find and use. They do a good job of heating or cooling the cabin quickly.
The 2017 Ford Escape received decent ratings from the IIHS with the only grades less than “Good” being for the small overlap front crash test, headlights and child seat anchor ease of use. The NHTSA awarded the Escape an overall four star rating (out of five stars).
IIHS Rating: Not a top safety pick because of its acceptable rating for the small overlap front crash test and headlights, and its marginal rating for child seat anchors ease of use.
Standard Tech: AdvanceTrac stability control with RSC (roll stability control), several airbags throughout the cabin, perimeter alarm, anti-theft alarm and post-crash alert system.
Optional Tech: No optional safety technology.
The Ford Escape isn’t the most spacious of in the segment when it comes to storage and cargo – Honda and Toyota have more cargo space – but the Ford is able to best some of the competition. The cargo space is plenty large enough for groceries or for some overnight bags, and the storage for the driver and passengers is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Storage Space: The center stack has a few nice cubbies and cup holders for stashing what you regularly carry and the under armrest storage is on par with the competition. The rest of your gear should fit in door pockets and the glove box which are also reasonably spacious.
Cargo Room: The Escape has 34.3 cubic feet behind the second row and 67.8 cubic feet with the seats folded.
The EPA estimates put the Ford Escape at 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. For an everyday driving fuel economy number you can probably expect somewhere in between the EPA's numbers. However, we didn’t reach either the city or highway numbers. This was most likely due to the manner in which we drove the vehicle rather than the engine's true efficiency performance. Ford’s EcoBoost engines are known for their fuel savings characteristics although we should note many of the Escape's competitors do get better gas mileage.
Observed: We saw an average fuel consumption of 22 mpg in our week long test drive.
Driving Factors: We drove the Ford Escape mostly in the city with a few short runs on the highway. Unfortunately, we were unable to take the vehicle for a long drive on the highway to see what kind of mileage it got there.
The 10-speaker Sony audio system works well and provides a good range in terms of both volume and quality of sound. Bass and treble tones were well represented with this system and it is certainly loud enough for the small CUV. While it's good, it didn't blow us away and there are better systems out there. As much as we liked the quality of the sound system, we have to draw attention to the odd controls for the infotainment system. We didn’t like them and utilized steering wheel audio controls as much as possible.
While the infotainment controls weren’t our favorite, overall, the Ford Escape is a good vehicle to have in your garage. It’s not wildly impressive and is far from exciting but it can easily cart around a small family and everything they need to take with them. The high stance of the CUV makes seeing the road easy and the engine offers good performance and fuel economy. As much as we liked the Escape, there are better vehicles out there.