Ford’s Escape falls squarely into the compact crossover class and thus competes with a very large number of rival products. In Canada, this class has always been very popular, although the subcompact crossover segment (a size notch lower) is growing tremendously.
The Escape comes in many guises, but even the entry-level vehicle is very well executed and equipped. At the top of the range, the Escape is very close to the luxurious Lincoln MKC, which is based on the Ford. My tester was an exceptionally well-equipped Titanium with the amazingly economical and peppy EcoBoost 4-cylinder turbo engine.
The first thing I noticed when I climbed into this 2016 model was the very high quality of the fit and finish around the interior. It’s right up there with the finest products in the industry, regardless of price, though this wasn’t always the case with this model. Early Escapes - though this is years ago now - were very simple and basic with regard to interior trim. Advancements by Ford in vehicle assembly precision and trim material choice have made a huge difference. The feeling I had sitting in the Escape was “why spend more.”
Of course, Ford will sell you larger SUVs, but the Escape is very roomy and has plenty of luggage space. I was impressed on a road trip to Vancouver Island from Richmond how much cab stowage space there is too. The central bin, which also serves as an armrest, is huge and almost bottomless! No excuse to leave “steal-able” items in view around the interior with this Ford.
My Escape was equipped with Ford’s 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost 240-horsepower engine, which was outstanding when it came to sipping fuel, yet impressively quick and responsive when needed. Very sporty indeed for a compact crossover with acceleration that’ll get you off the on-ramp and into fast traffic with ease and safety. On my trip to the Island I travelled around fairly extensively and also drove the vehicle locally for a week. Despite all the city traffic driving, I barely used half a tank of fuel the whole week. It cost just $28 to top up the tank when I returned it to Ford. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic and it functioned so well I never even noticed it, which is probably as good a comment as one can make.
My Escape came with all-wheel drive, though base models are FWD. I didn’t have a chance to find out how this performed because the weather was so good, but given experience with other Ford AWD systems, I’d expect it to be very good indeed. The vehicle I tested was loaded to the brim with many outstanding safety and convenience features. These included a voice-activated navigation system, rear view camera, a power panorama roof, leather faced seating, Class II trailer towing package, blind spot detection and many other worthwhile goodies. All this kit did boost the price considerably, but consider that you’re really getting a compact luxury product at this level.
The Escape was fun to drive and its compact dimensions made it very easy to park and maneuver. It handles well on winding roads, so Ford must have got its suspension system right on the button for this type of vehicle. Vehicles like the Escape are so practical and that’s why they enjoy such popularity. Don’t expect any falloff in interest in this class any time soon!
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four-door, five-place compact crossover
ENGINE: 2.0-litre EcoBoost 4-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed SelectShift automatic
TOWING CAPACITY: 1587 Kg (with package)
FUEL ECONOMY: 9.6-litres/100 km combined city/highway
PRICE: Base MSRP $24,199. As tested $42,489