16.4 L/ 100km
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
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.