2017 Ford Escape: Monthly Update for June 2017
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
Where Did We Drive It?
You could say that our 2017 Ford Escape accumulated a fair bit of mileage this month, but that would be a gross understatement. We added over 4,800 miles this month. Our test isn't yet three-quarters done, but we're already 94 percent of the way to our 20,000-mile target.
I blame myself.
It was I who drove the Escape to the Portland, Oregon, area to attend the introduction of the 2018 Toyota Camry. And I decided to take the scenic route through Bend on the way up and the Oregon coast on the way back. In 10 days, my family and I journeyed 3,106 miles, a fact that my wife and oldest daughter (the younger one has a job and stayed behind) are quick to point out with less than their usual level of enthusiasm.
That's not to say the Escape was uncomfortable. It most definitely was not. Their dissatisfaction had more to do with the ratio of seat time to stationary time.
But I alone cannot account for all of this month's miles. When I wasn't hogging it, a combination of other editors added another 1,700 miles to the thing. Its popularity is well-earned because this compact SUV feels as nice to drive as a Focus, which is no bad thing. It is, more or less, a Focus SUV.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Our Escape is powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, which is another way of saying it's a turbocharged four-banger with a split personality. It's powerful when you want it to be, and it'll drink fuel accordingly if you leadfoot it around. Or it can be remarkably fuel-efficient if you're easy on the go-pedal, which is not as difficult as I'd anticipated. Apparently, its 2.0-liter displacement gives it enough underlying grunt to keep the turbo in the background when you're cruising the open road.
That worked in my favor because, even though my trip was work-related, once we got to Portland, the trip itself was pure vacation. We were never in much of a hurry, and that's reflected in the fuel economy the little Escape was able to generate despite three adult occupants and their luggage.
In all we stopped for fuel 10 times, and four of those tanks eclipsed the previous best tank of 26.6 mpg. In fact, the entire 3,106-mile trip beat that previous best tank by averaging 26.7 mpg. Somewhere along the way I set a new range record of 408.3 miles, and that tank also pushed the top tank milestone to 32 mpg — a full 5 mpg better than the 2.0-liter Escape AWD's highway rating of 27 mpg. And that was no fluke because the next tank was 29.2 mpg, and it could have been higher if not for a healthy dose of freeway traffic near the end. And I wasn't exactly poking along; I went 70 mph when conditions allowed.
And that's the thing about this 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. If you're a leadfoot or if you live in the city, you'll probably be disappointed. But the same engine driven in an unhurried fashion in rural areas can do quite well. Even though this assessment is a mixed bag, it's still more encouraging than our experience with a 2015 Ford F-150 with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. That truck fell far short of its rated fuel economy during its long-term test, but it also struggled when driven more or less exactly the same way (and on nearly the same route) as I drove our Escape to Portland and back.
Average lifetime mpg: 20.9 (up from 19.9)
EPA mpg rating: 23 combined (20 city/27 highway)
Best fill mpg: 32.0 (up from 26.6)
Best range: 408.3 miles (up from 338.7)
Current odometer: 18,776 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
No maintenance was necessary this month. Maybe next time.
"The Escape is extremely stable and even engaging on winding mountain roads, of which there are many in Northern California and Oregon. The chassis is composed, body motions are nicely regulated, and it responds precisely to steering inputs. And the driver feels connected because the wheel transmits a surprisingly accurate sense of feel and feedback.
"The trouble is driving arrow straight on the open road at cruising speed, where the same steering feels a little too pointy. Reach over to adjust the volume and the Escape may go that way. Look out the window and it may follow your gaze, if only to a minor degree. Such tiny involuntary movements can initiate motions that passengers can sense. It needs a tiny bit less directness right at center, but not so much that it spoils what's so good about it when the road isn't perfectly straight." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"The Escape is a pleasant-riding machine that soaks up rough roads cleanly and doesn't jostle the occupants. And it does this without being overly floaty and buoyant. Ford seems to have found the sweet spot." — Dan Edmunds
"This isn't the quietest road trip machine I've ever driven. It seems to generate more road noise than the competition. Some of these roads are coarse because the locals use studded tires in winter, but it's more wide-ranging than that. It only feels quiet on the smoothest of brand-new asphalt surfaces, but that's when you start to notice the wind rush around the body." — Dan Edmunds
"I'm hearing more creaks and clicks from the interior panels than I should. Awhile back a distinct rhythmic click corresponded to the steps on a fairly standard concrete freeway I drive all the time, and on certain asphalt surfaces there's a rattle high up on the center stack that I can modify with hand pressure, but cannot eliminate. Other random noises have popped up here and there. It's nothing like constant, but anything of the sort is unexpected in a car with so few miles on it, especially nowadays. Looking around I see lots of panels with joints in between. There seems to be many parts that could move relative to one another. Many of the seams don't line up very well, and there's a fair bit of low-grade plastic in here, which would be irksome on its own even if everything fit tightly and kept quiet." — Dan Edmunds
"The steering wheel looks like it's made out of recycled tires. If it is, I applaud Ford for its eco-mindedness, but I don't think that's the case. It's a shame this material is so cheap-feeling because the steering wheel actually has a nice shape to it. Had the carmaker just wrapped this in leather or some other non-crappy material, it would be 100 times better. I'm tempted to pick up one of those covers from Pep Boys. Even that would be an improvement." — Jonathan Elfalan, road test manager
"Before I go all Debbie Downer on the Escape, let's be clear. I like the Escape. In fact, I like it a lot. That's why the tiny fails I noticed, the kind of interior fit and finish blunders that made me literally blurt out 'Oh come on!', bother me so much. Not because the mistakes are big or gross, or that they take away from performance or functionality. But when you miss something that is in the driver's line of sight, it shows a lack of attention to detail. It's like being served a drink in a glass at a restaurant that has lipstick on it. I owned a Ford Edge a few years ago and dug it. I felt confident it was made well. Small details like these misses don't inspire the same confidence." — Matt Jones, automotive editor
"Dad is getting on in years, and he's regularly using one of those wheeled walkers that has a hand brake and a seat he can rest on. It helps him a lot, and he brings it everywhere. Naturally, it had to fit in the Escape when we went for a ride during our visit. It fit, but I had to wrestle with it some." — Dan Edmunds