Since its introduction, the Ford Escape has been one of America's best-selling small crossover SUVs. Considering how many other vehicles are available in this segment (many of them well established before the Escape's debut), this may come as a bit of a surprise. But Ford has a keen knack for designing SUVs that appeal to a wide range of buyers.
With the original Escape, Ford successfully combined the styling and four-wheel-drive capability of a traditional SUV with the size, practicality and driving characteristics of a midsize car. For the urban dweller in need of something comfortable, versatile, fun to drive and capable of doing some light-duty off-roading or towing, it fills the bill perfectly. Of course, the Escape's affordability certainly boosted its appeal as well.
Although it received a significant freshening for 2008 that brought notable improvements to the interior, the Escape soldiered on with its original platform until 2013's complete redesign. The latter rebirth vaulted the Escape toward the front of the compact crossover class, as it offers an appealing combination of styling, performance, fuel efficiency, features and comfort. Prior to that overhaul, however, many rival compact SUVs offered more refinement as well as a more rewarding driving experience.
Current Ford Escape
The current Ford Escape stands as one of the top entries in the very competitive compact crossover segment. There are three trim levels: S, SE and Titanium. The S comes with full power accessories, air-conditioning, the Sync voice command system, a rearview camera and a six-speaker sound system. Highlights of the SE include a turbocharged engine, keyless entry keypad, a power driver seat and satellite radio. The Escape Titanium further adds keyless ignition/entry, the MyFord Touch electronics interface, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats and an upgraded sound system.
Many of the higher trims' features are available on the lower trims, while other options include a power panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, a navigation system and a Parking Technology package (with automated parallel-parking assist and front and rear parking sensors).
Under the hood is a choice of three engines, all matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. Base Escapes come with a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Standard on the SE and Titanium is a turbocharged 1.6-liter, 178-hp four-cylinder. The most powerful engine is an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter, 240-hp four-cylinder engine. The 1.6 flies the fuel-sipper flag while the 2.0 offers performance on par with a V6 along with higher fuel economy.
In reviews, the newest Ford Escape has impressed our staff with its well-rounded road manners. The 2.5 and 1.6 engines provide adequate thrust, while the 2.0 is downright spirited. The latter flattens hills with less effort than the other two and is quieter and smoother to boot. The Escape can confidently tackle a winding road and the ride, though on the firm side, is compliant enough to take the edge off the bumps and ruts of poorly maintained city streets. Downsides to the new Ford Escape include an unexpectedly high price when fitted with options and the MyFord Touch interface, which is finicky to use.
Read the most recent 2015 Ford Escape review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Ford Escape page.