LOS ANGELES — The 2017 Ford Escape SUV, which arrives at Ford dealerships in the spring, features a wide range of new technologies, a fresh face and a user-friendly center console. The 2017 Escape debuts this week at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Pricing has not been announced.
The compact SUV segment is one of the hottest in the industry, with a wide range of choices available for car shoppers. Escape rivals include the Honda CR-V, a perennial favorite, along with the Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4.
The 2017 Escape's options list offers several features available in its upscale cousin, the Lincoln MKC. Offered for the first time on the Escape are a lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning. There is also a smartphone app that helps a car owner locate their Escape.
Kevin Schad, Escape brand manager, told Edmunds the new technology is primarily aimed at purchasers of the top-of-the-line Titanium model, many of whom are buyers moving down to a smaller vehicle for the first time.
"Thirty percent of sales are that rich mix, so that tells us that is kind of a sweet spot," Schad said. "I think the data of who is buying (Titanium) suggests that when they downsize, they have the money to afford a lot of the technology and creature comforts."
For example, the Escape now has a lane-keeping system that detects when the car is drifting out of a lane and warns the driver through a subtle vibration in the steering wheel. Additional settings let the system apply steering torque to steer the car back into the lane.
Another new feature is adaptive cruise control. When the system is engaged, sensors monitor traffic in front of the vehicle and tell the system when to accelerate or reduce speed.
Also available for the first time is the automaker's driver-alert system. Using data from the lane-keeping system, driver alert can detect signs of fatigued driving and may provide a warning on the instrument cluster.
The technology lets the driver communicate with the vehicle from any distance through an app on their smartphone. The car owner can do such things as unlock the doors, check the fuel level and locate where the vehicle is parked. Sync Connect is available with Sync 3 and comes with free activation for five years. The Lincoln MKC shares the same technology.
Escape's exterior receives a mild freshening for the 2017 model year.
The hood, front fascia, headlamps, fenders and grille have been restyled to create a resemblance to the Ford Edge. The rear styling change is limited to a restyled tailgate with broader taillights. Other sheet metal is carried over from the 2016 model. A complete redesign is not expected until the 2019 model year at the earliest.
As for the interior, Ford targeted Escape owners' No. 1 request.
"Owners said I don't have space for my phone on the current Escape. That was solved," Schad said.
Ford redesigned the console, moving the shifter rearward from the area where it was located near the center stack. The handbrake that was located on the left side of the console has been eliminated, replaced with an electronic parking brake. The end result is that two media bins were created, as well as two cupholders and space for a large cell phone or big sunglasses.
Escape continues to be available in three trim levels: S, SE and Titanium.
Two new four-cylinder engines are offered: The Escape SE and Titanium come standard with the new 1.5-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine. The twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost is optional. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the line.
Ford expects the 1.5-liter engine will produce about 180 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Final ratings will be available closer to vehicle availability. The 2.0-liter twin-scroll EcoBoost will deliver 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque.
Stop-start is standard on both engines. The technology shuts off the engine at idle to conserve gasoline, for example, at a traffic light. It starts the engine when the driver takes his or her foot off the brake pedal.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine carries over as standard equipment for the Escape S series.
The Escape is Ford's second most popular vehicle. The F-Series pickup is No. 1.
Ford sold 306,000 Escapes in calendar year 2014, a record sales year for the vehicle, and Schad is optimistic 2015 will be another record year.
Edmunds says:The 2017 Ford Escape now offers some of the technology available on more premium vehicles.