2017 Ford Escape

By Jaedene Hudson on 28 February 2017
Red exterior 2017 Ford Escape

Engine
Transmission
Fuel Economy
16.4 L/ 100km
Output
ANCAP rating

Not Tested

What is it?

The new Ford Escape is a facelifted and renamed version of the Kuga mid-sized SUV it is replacing. There is new technology, engines, more variants on offer and Ford says the new model will reach up to 92% of medium SUV buyers, compared with the Kuga that only reached 76%. Ford Australia says its switched the nameplate from the Kuga, as used in Europe, and revived Escape as part of a global SUV naming convention with the letter 'E' – as seen with the EcoSport, Everest and the Edge (due to replace the Territory in 2018).

What are its rivals?

The mid-sized SUV segment is a hotly contested market in Australia with an increase year on year in 2016 of 11.6 per cent. The market leader is the Mazda CX-5 which currently holds a 17.2 per cent share, depute being an aging model that will be replaced by an all-new generation CX-5 next month. Other players include the Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage.

What models are there?

There are three models on offer – Ambiente, Trend and Titanium – and the choice of front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive options. There are three different engine choices – a 1.5-litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine, a 2.0-litre four cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine and a 2.0-litre diesel powerplant.

How much is it?

  • Ambiente 1.5L FWD $28,490

  • Ambiente 1.5L FWD (a) $29,990

  • Ambiente 1.5L AWD (a) $32,990

  • Trend 1.5L EcoBoost FWD (a) $32,990

  • Trend 2.0L EcoBoost AWD (a) $35,990

  • Trend 2.0L Diesel AWD (a) $38,490

  • Titanium 2.0L EcoBoost AWD (a) $44,990

  • Titanium 2.0L Diesel AWD (a) $47,490

What's changed?

Apart from the Escape badging the new car doesn't look much different from the outside. There are sharper-looking headlights, daytime running lights a different grille and sleeker tail-lights.

Inside, all models have 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with Sync3, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone technology, digital radio, integrated satellite navigation. The 8.0-inch infotainment system has also been calibrated to suit Australian voices as part of Ford's local homologation program. It's a much cleaner interface than the outgoing car. The multitude of odd-shaped buttons is gone, replaced by a single row of buttons and the touch-screen itself.
Ford has made the steering wheel buttons closer to the driver and has created more space in the middle console are by replacing the manually operated handbrake with an automatic one. That means the centre of the cabin is now big enough for dual cup holders and a reasonable-sized centre console that holds two USB ports and a 12V power outlet. The glove box is reasonable in size, but there isn't any room around the gear lever, which takes up a large portion of space within the centre console. Auto models now get gearshift paddles.

The automatic parking system has been improved and now offers both parallel and 90-degree parking modes. It will also exit the car park. The company says there only needs 20cm at the front and rear of the car to be able to parallel park.

Disappointingly, despite receiving massive criticism for leaving autonomous emergency braking (AEB) out of the Mustang, the potentially life-saving technology is optional on Escape Trend and Titanium models and is not available on the Ambiente at all. There is a technology pack ($1300) that includes active cruise control, AEB, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist. However, the Escape also retains the Kuga's five-star ANCAP safety rating. The Escape scored 36.33 out of 37 points.

Trend and Titanium now feature laminated side glass.

What's under the bonnet?

The 1.5L engine produces 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 240Nm of torque between 1600rpm and 5000rpm. Combined claimed fuel consumption of 6.3L/100km. The auto produces more power (134kW) and uses 7.2L/100km. All-wheel-drive versions use 7.5L/100km.

Trend FWD models house a revised 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 178kW and 345Nm and uses a claimed 8.6L/100km. The Trend AWD uses a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder (carried over from the Kuga) with 132kW and 400Nm and a claimed combined fuel figure of 5.5L/100km.

What equipment does it get?

Standard safety equipment includes six airbags, a rear camera, rear parking sensors as well as Ford's innovative MyKey system, which allows parents to code a separate key for young drivers that limits some functions that may be distracting.

Ambiente models have an a 8.0-inch touchscreen with digital radio, satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology, cruise control, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel, front and rear fog lights, rear camera and parking sensors, rear air vents and 17-inch steel wheels.

The Trend front-wheel drive auto adds automatic headlights and wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather-trimmed gearshifter, front seatback tray tables and 18-inch alloy wheels. A nifty hands-free opening tailgate (paired with keyless entry and push-button start) as a $1200 option.

The AWD Trend model gains the hands free tail gate, automatic reverse-park assistance and front parking sensors, heated front seats and power adjustable driver's seat, panoramic glass roof, nine-speaker Sony audio system, folding door mirrors, and leather trim.

The rear seat fold 60:40 that lower at the pull of a lever. With the seats upright the boot has 406 litres which grows to 1603L with the rear-seat folded.

How does it drive?

We sampled the Ambiente FWD 1.5-litre turbo with a six-speed manual and the Trend AWD diesel. The 1.5 is a spritely offering especially with the six-speed manual which has a light clutch and gearshift action that is great around town in the traffic and comfortable on the open road. It was zippy around town although out on the open road it did struggle a bit under full load.We didn't sample the 1.5 with AWD but the extra weight would dampen performance and hamper fuel economy.

The 2.0-litre turbo diesel is the pick if you plan to use the Escape for towing, with 400nm of torque it's got strong pulling power from low in the rev range. It's strong and punchy and works well with the dual-clutch gearbox, albeit with a slight hesitation off the line (not unusual with these types of gearboxes. The diesel can tow up to 1800kg (braked).

Both models soaked up the lumps and bumps of Melbourne's b and c- roads with ease with the Trend's model slightly firmer (it sits on larger wheels and uses a different suspension set up).

As you'd expect the Escape has the same great dynamic qualities of the Kuga. The steering is well-weighted and offers plenty of feel, there is minimal body roll, and the brakes have good pedal feel. While nimble in town, the Escape is also fun to drive on a twisty back road. On the long stretch of dirt roads we sampled the

FWD Ambiente rode better but didn't feel quite as planted as the AWD. The electrically-assisted steering offers plenty of feel and is weighty enough to feel sporty, while being easy enough to use at lower speeds.

As mentioned above, the Escape has had a refresh with the new multimedia system, and Ford has removed a lot of the buttons for a sleeker, more stylish look. The removal of the manual handbrake makes the centre console area much more useful with the addition of the covered storage area that has two cup holders, and side compartment.

Front and rear passengers have good head and leg room for although rear knee room will be a little tight for taller adults. The seats are comfortable and there are retractable tray tables on the backs of the front pews (in Titanium models) that will help keep the kids occupied. All models have rear air vents – a must for families in the summer months.

We did find the seating position a little hard to get used too though. The combination of the angled steering wheel and positioning of the seats felt odd. And, while we like the new centre dash area we were not able to reach the vents comfortably - they are perched high on the side of the dash area and required quite a stretch to change the positioning of the airflow.

At highway speeds, wind noise was noticeable around the side mirrors, but road noise was not as intrusive as some rivals. It also should be noted that the Ambiente model doesn't get the dual-layered glass that the Trend and Titanium do.

Should I consider one?

Like the Kuga, the Escape is a good proposition in the mid-sized SUV market. It's well priced, offers good equipment levels, is at the top end of the class for dynamics and, with the update in communication technology could well be the class leader for media functionality.

Given there is no option to add the advanced safety package on the Ambiente we'd not recommend it and opt instead for the Trend FWD with the Tech Pack.

However, the all-new Mazda CX-5 will be launched within weeks. The current model continues to be the most popular SUV in the class and, if Mazda continues its current trend, the all-new CX-5 will be at the top of the game. Unless you won't own anything other than a Ford, we'd be waiting the few weeks to test drive them both.

Quick Facts

Make

Ford

Model

Escape

Category

Compact SUV

Body type

SUV

Pros

Great handling
SYNC3 takes tech to a new level in the class
Good equipment levels

Cons

Driving position was a little hard to get used to
Advanced safety pack is not available on the base model and optional on all others.
Base model interior a little cheap in some places

Country of manufacture

USA

Available from

2-Mar-17

Priced from

$28,490

Specifications

Engine

Number of cylinders

4

Engine size

1.5 L

Claimed max power (kW)

110 kW @ 6000 rpm

Claimed max torque (Nm)

240 Nm @ 1600-5000 rpm

 

Transmission

Type

6-speed manual

 

Fuel Consumption

Claimed fuel consumption

6.3 L/100km

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