2018 Ford Escape

2018 Ford Escape Review

Efficient engines and useful space make the 2018 Ford Escape a smart compact SUV choice.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Shopping for a small crossover presents a dizzying array of options, but the Ford Escape is a smart choice among a crop of great contenders. It offers a choice of three engines, an impressive voice-command interface, and cargo space that ranks near the top of the class. After a thorough update last year, the 2018 Escape offers a new trim level that bridges the gap between standard and luxury models.

The Escape offers optional all-wheel drive, respectable fuel economy, cargo space that ranks near the top of the class (only Toyota and Honda offer more) and an available hands-free power liftgate. You can outfit the Escape from comfortable casual (SE trim with no options) to rugged luxury (a loaded Titanium model that can breach $40,000). On the road, its agility instills a level of driver confidence that's rare in this class.

After a more comprehensive update last year that introduced a new four-cylinder engine and improved things such as smartphone integration (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were introduced) and small-item storage (the lever-mounted parking brake was replaced with a button), the 2018 Escape now offers a SEL trim level that bridges the gap between the more mainstream SE model and the luxury fixings of the Titanium.

Overall, the Escape excels in some areas and falls short in others. With its turbo four-cylinder, quick (if twitchy) steering, and tight suspension, the Escape is one of the more engaging compact SUVs to drive, only outmatched by the Mazda CX-5. Large cargo space and an excellent tech interface are other advantages. On the other hand, the Escape isn't quite as refined as the Honda or Mazda, its "fun" engine is only available on its top trim level, and that "fun" engine doesn't return particularly impressive fuel economy. But generally we think the 2018 Escape's qualities outweigh its flaws and deserves a close look from anyone interested in a compact SUV.



what's new

For 2018, the Escape offers a new SEL trim level that comes with features such as a power liftgate, leather upholstery and the Sync 3 tech interface. Ford has also revised the availability of a few other safety and convenience features on the Escape this year. Unfortunately, the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is now only available on the top Titanium trim level.


we recommend

The Escape SEL is a good way to get near the Titanium's near-luxury offerings while keeping the price affordable. With the SEL, you get some nice features, including a power liftgate, leather upholstery and the Sync 3 tech interface. If safety is important to you, consider getting an SEL with the optional Safe and Smart package, which adds a comprehensive set of advanced driver aids, such as lane departure intervention and forward collision mitigation.




trim levels & features

The 2018 Escape is a compact crossover SUV that comes in S, SE, SEL and Titanium trim levels. The S is fairly bare-bones, so we expect most buyers will want to start their search with an SE, which offers an upgraded engine, nicer wheels, a power-adjustable driver seat and more available options. The new-for-2018 SEL trim level adds more convenience features while the top-trim Titanium adds luxury touches and an even more powerful engine.

The S starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (168 horsepower, 170 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Standard features include 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, MyKey parental controls, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seat, a 4.2-inch central display, a rearview camera, the Sync tech interface with AppLink smartphone integration, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port. Note that this model is generally aimed at business fleet buyers and may not be easy to find on your local dealer's lot.

Upgrading to the SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels (optional on the S), added chrome exterior trim, sound-reducing window glass, a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine (179 hp, 177 lb-ft), roof rails, foglights, a keyless entry keypad, rear privacy glass, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, rear air vents, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment), heated front seats, upgraded cloth upholstery, a rear center armrest and satellite radio.

Optional on the SE is all-wheel drive and a Sport Appearance package that adds black 19-inch wheels, black-painted exterior trim, LED daytime running lights, paddle shifters, partial leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The optional Sync 3 tech package includes an 8-inch touchscreen, enhanced voice controls, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Sync Connect (includes remote app services and onboard Wi-Fi) and a nine-speaker sound system with dual USB ports. A panoramic sunroof, roof rail crossbars, a navigation system, and a tow package rated up to 2,000 pounds are also optional.

The SEL bundles all SE equipment and adds a power liftgate, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, leather upholstery, power-adjustable side mirrors with heating, rear parking sensors and the Sync 3 tech interface. Eighteen-inch wheels are optional on the SEL, along with all of the options available for the SE trim.

At the top of the lineup is the Titanium. It bundles all SEL features but adds a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (245 hp, 275 lb-ft), a six-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels, a hands-free power liftgate, keyless entry and ignition, remote start, ambient interior lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, xenon headlights, heated and 10-way power-adjustable front seats, driver-seat memory settings, a 110-volt, household-style power outlet, and additional 12-volt power outlets. Also standard are a navigation system, a 10-speaker Sony audio system with HD radio, front and rear parking sensors, and an automated parallel and perpendicular parking feature (which includes front and side parking sensors).

Titanium options are similar to SEL options, with the exception of optional 19-inch wheels and an uprated tow package capable of pulling up to 3,500 pounds.

A Safe and Smart package is available for the SE, SEL and Titanium trims, and it includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, and automatic wipers.



The S starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (168 horsepower, 170 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Standard features include 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, MyKey parental controls, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seat, a 4.2-inch central display, a rearview camera, the Sync tech interface with AppLink smartphone integration, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port. Note that this model is generally aimed at business fleet buyers and may not be easy to find on your local dealer's lot.

Upgrading to the SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels (optional on the S), added chrome exterior trim, sound-reducing window glass, a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine (179 hp, 177 lb-ft), roof rails, foglights, a keyless entry keypad, rear privacy glass, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, rear air vents, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment), heated front seats, upgraded cloth upholstery, a rear center armrest and satellite radio.

Optional on the SE is all-wheel drive and a Sport Appearance package that adds black 19-inch wheels, black-painted exterior trim, LED daytime running lights, paddle shifters, partial leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The optional Sync 3 tech package includes an 8-inch touchscreen, enhanced voice controls, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Sync Connect (includes remote app services and onboard Wi-Fi) and a nine-speaker sound system with dual USB ports. A panoramic sunroof, roof rail crossbars, a navigation system, and a tow package rated up to 2,000 pounds are also optional.

The SEL bundles all SE equipment and adds a power liftgate, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, leather upholstery, power-adjustable side mirrors with heating, rear parking sensors and the Sync 3 tech interface. Eighteen-inch wheels are optional on the SEL, along with all of the options available for the SE trim.

At the top of the lineup is the Titanium. It bundles all SEL features but adds a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (245 hp, 275 lb-ft), a six-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels, a hands-free power liftgate, keyless entry and ignition, remote start, ambient interior lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, xenon headlights, heated and 10-way power-adjustable front seats, driver-seat memory settings, a 110-volt, household-style power outlet, and additional 12-volt power outlets. Also standard are a navigation system, a 10-speaker Sony audio system with HD radio, front and rear parking sensors, and an automated parallel and perpendicular parking feature (which includes front and side parking sensors).

Titanium options are similar to SEL options, with the exception of optional 19-inch wheels and an uprated tow package capable of pulling up to 3,500 pounds.

A Safe and Smart package is available for the SE, SEL and Titanium trims, and it includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, and automatic wipers.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our test of the 2013 Ford Escape Titanium AWD (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current generation Escape has been updated with new infotainment features and driver aids. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Escape, however.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration4.5 / 5.0
Braking3.5 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling4.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use4.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality3.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The turbo four-cylinder gives the Escape rapid acceleration. Unlike many competitors, the Escape also feels lively going around turns. The transmission is a smooth operator as well.

acceleration

edmunds rating
The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is powerful, and it makes accelerating up to highway speeds and passing slow-moving traffic a breeze. In our testing, an Escape Titanium accelerated from zero to 60 mph in an impressively quick 7.1 seconds.

braking

edmunds rating
Brake performance is solid and consistent. The Escape is very stable, even during our panic-simulation stop tests. In everyday driving, the brakes offer linear response and feel.

steering

edmunds rating
It has an artificial steering feel, which is the norm these days for compact SUVs. Still, there's enough feedback to make you feel in control.

handling

edmunds rating
All-wheel-drive Escapes benefit from an advanced power distribution system that makes the Escape a capable handler as well as a solid all-weather choice. Front-wheel-drive Escapes also feel sure-footed thanks to the well-tuned suspension.

drivability

edmunds rating
In most situations, the transmission responds quickly. It does get caught flat-footed on occasion, but not any more often than most SUVs in this class.

comfort

edmunds rating
Overall comfort is good in the Escape. Its ride is amply compliant, even though it's one of the better-handling SUVs in the segment.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
We like the Escape's seats because they provide all-day comfort. Heating, an option on some trim levels, is a nice touch.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
The Escape has a surprisingly comfy ride — surprising because it trades off very little in the way of ride quality in return for its excellent handling.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
The Escape's turbo four-cylinder is much quieter than some competitors, especially at wide-open throttle. It also remains very smooth even at high engine speeds.

climate control

The climate control cluster (and LCD readout) feels as if it came from a mid-'90s Taurus, but hey, it works. You'll find large vents up front and center console vents for rear passengers but no temperature or fan speed control.

interior

edmunds rating
For the most part, the interior design makes sense and is easy to use. It's loaded with features, too, especially on the Titanium trim level. The quality of materials and assembly is good.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Ford has made it a point to place commonly used controls within reach and in sight, and it shows in the Escape. It may not look very elegant, but everything is where you would expect to find it.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The seat height in the Escape is just right. Similar to entering a minivan, there's no bending down to get in.

driving position

The eight-way power driver seat in the SE trim is a nice touch (changed to 10-way adjustable for 2018). The combination of the seat and a manual tilt-and-telescope steering wheel makes it easy to find a comfortable perch.

roominess

edmunds rating
We had no problems fitting comfortably into either the front or back seats, but the Escape doesn't have a sense of spaciousness like the roomier Honda CR-V.

visibility

edmunds rating
Visibility out the front and the rear is only average. The Escape is definitely not as airy or as easy to see out of as some of its competitors.

quality

edmunds rating
Build quality is as good as you can expect in a vehicle in this price range. Materials appear durable and well put together.

utility

You'll be able to haul a decent amount of stuff by using the Escape's available 68 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded. That's not as much room as in the Honda CR-V but on par with rest of the class.

small-item storage

The center console space is much improved as the Escape now has an electronic parking brake button instead of a handle. There are several nooks for devices, keys, cups and bottles, and a deep, narrow center console for larger items. Both front seats have seatback pockets for rear passengers.

cargo space

edmunds rating
The 60/40-split folding rear seats fold flat and flush to enhance cargo area and utility. There's no seatback release in the cargo area, so you'll need to walk around to the rear doors, but the seat-side levers make it quick work.

child safety seat accomodation

LATCH anchors are at the seatback surface, so there's no need to fumble and search under the cushion. Reinforcement anchors in the rear seatbacks are similarly easy to access.

technology

The new Sync 3 is one of the easiest touchscreen tech interfaces to use. We like the clear touchscreen graphics, quick response times and the easily navigable menus.

audio & navigation

The SE's optional nine-speaker audio system won't impress audiophiles but should sound fine to most. (We haven't evaluated the 10-speaker Sony audio system.) The navigation system offers clear map views and easy menu functions.

smartphone integration

Easy Bluetooth pairing. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now included with optional Sync 3 system. FordPass with Sync Connect app enables various remote functions and vehicle health monitoring, even helps to find parking. AppLink (base model S) enables voice control of various smartphone apps.

driver aids

A rearview camera and blind-spot mirrors come standard, but blind-spot monitoring costs extra. Forward collision alert and lane departure warning and intervention are also optional.

voice control

Ford's Sync system has excellent voice recognition. It understands just about anything you say and is quick to respond.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.