2018 Ford Escape Review
2018 Ford Escape Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Dan spent many years covering the go-fast, look-good, get-loud corners of the automotive universe. First, he served as editor of enthusiast magazines AutoSound and Honda Tuning, then as executive editor at SEMA News, the publishing arm of the trade group that produces the annual SEMA Show (yes, that show). As a contributor to Edmunds, he now likes to keep the volume low and the speed limit legal, providing expert car-shopping advice to drivers looking for the perfect match.
- Quick acceleration from Titanium trim's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine
- Tech interface features advanced voice control, Apple/Android integration
- Steering and handling feel more like that of a car than SUV
- Useful space for cargo and small personal items
- The 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine lacks punch
- Dashboard design looks dated, and interior build quality is lackluster
- Poor fuel economy and range from the Titanium's turbo engine
- New SEL trim level
- Revised feature availability
- Turbocharged 2.0-liter engine now only on Titanium trim
- Part of the third Escape generation introduced for 2013
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.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Ford Escape S 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$159/mo for Escape S
Avg. Compact SUV
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 it like to live with?
To learn more about the Ford Escape of this generation, read our updates from a full year and more than 20,000 miles of living with a Ford Escape SE. We cover everything from seat comfort to real-world reliability. We were impressed with the performance from the Escape's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine but think it falls short in many other areas. Get the full scoop from our long-term test. Note that while we tested a 2017 Escape, the 2018 Escape is of the same generation and all of our reporting still applies.
Edmunds' Expert Rating7.1 / 10
Shopping for a small crossover presents a dizzying array of options, but the Ford Escape remains a smart choice in a group 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.
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.
|Overall||7.1 / 10|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We like the Escape's seats because they provide all-day comfort. Heating, an option on some trim levels, is a nice touch.
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 & vibration7.5
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.
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.
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 use7.5
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 out7.5
The seat height in the Escape is just right. Similar to entering a minivan, there's no bending down to get in.
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.
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 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.
Build quality is as good as you can expect in a vehicle in this price range. Materials appear durable and well put together.
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.
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.
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 accommodation7.5
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.
Rated to tow as few as 1,500 pounds (base model S) up to 3,500 pounds with the 2.0-liter engine and the optional Class II trailer tow package. The 1.5-liter engine is rated at 2,000 pounds.
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 & navigation5.5
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.
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.
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.
Ford's Sync system has excellent voice recognition. It understands just about anything you say and is quick to respond.
Which Escape does Edmunds 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.
2018 Ford Escape models
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.
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Lots of Homework!!
James Recek, 08/27/2018
2018 Ford Escape Titanium 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
My wife and I took a long time before deciding to buy the Escape. We looked at everything from Honda CRV, Nissan Rogue, Mazda, Chevy Equinox and the Escape Titanium was what she liked. Easy for her to get in and out of the vehicle, very important! Can see all around through the windows even though it has the backup camera, and the style and looks of it just were better in our … judgement than the others. the four cylinder with the twin turbos it will move, which where we live traffic wise was important to her to have great acceleration to merge with moving traffic. And mileage is right where the sticker and all the reading I read is where we are. No long trips yet! It has all the safety features she wanted, she is very happy with the vehicle. March 5, 2019 Update review on 2018 Ford Escape Titanium. Vehicle has 7700 miles on it since purchased in July of last year. Still very pleased with the vehicle, performs like we thought it would. gas mileage city driving has actually been better than quoted on the window sticker. A few longer highway trips with it. Handles and rides very well. Again the 2.0 lt four cylinder with the twin turbos, very peppy and smooth. I am an old school car guy and driven V-8’s mostly all my life but this engine in this vehicle performs very well. recommend for people to look at when looking for a new SUV of this size. Update, 3-5-2020, vehicle is still performing as expected, continues to take care of what my wife and I decided when we bought this vehicle. September 5, 2020 have had the Escape for a little over two years now, has 25,000 miles on it, with the Covid mileage driven dropped for several months, working from home. My wife still loves the vehicle she enjoys driving it, mileage is still good, and when I get my chance to drive it , still performs well! September 8, 2022. Vehicle has almost 49,000 miles just had its scheduled service still driving well gas mileage has gotten 1 or two miles better I have noticed. Get regular letters from local dealers who want a very clean used car low mileage and want us to upgrade to a new one. My wife is not quite ready to do that A new Escape we would consider again!
5 out of 5 stars
One Huge Regret
Opa Oliver, 11/12/2018
2018 Ford Escape Titanium 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I am a 71 y o male taking care of two developmentally disabled people. I am on the large side 6'2"and 275 lbs. This Escape is easy to get in and out of for me and my two clients. Surprising amount of cargo room. The driver has everything within easy reach and logically located. It handles like a dream whether in a tight parking lot or on the highway. Living in Colorado at high … altitude is no problem for the four cylinder turbo engine. It is quick, damn quick. The transmission is so smooth it almost feels like a single speed. The fuel economy is great with 24 mpg around town and 29 mpg on the highway. I am a cautious driver but when there is need to accelerate the feeling is exhilarating. Started out using premium fuel, then mid-grade and now regular. Fuel economy and thrill of driving feels the same with all three grades of fuel. Visibility, comfort, technology and dependability are all superior. My ONE HUGE REGRET is that I should have bought one sooner.
5 out of 5 stars
2018 Ford Escape SE 4dr SUV (1.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I bought my new 2018 Escape yesterday. My family has a Honda CR-V and a BMW X3 SUVs. We didn't expect too much for Ford Escape. Now I'm enjoying it. I like its style. I was attracted by its beautiful exterior and value. The seating and ride quality are much better than our CR-V EX, I'm comparing it when it was new. There is virtually no wind noise with Ford Escape. Wish it has bigger … screen and collision avoidance, lane keeping stuff. The price is great. Oh, yesterday Ford is among top 5 of JD Power's initial quality report. Hope it's long term reliability also go up.
4 out of 5 stars
Less is better
2018 Ford Escape S 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
Wanted a basic vehicle, good gas mileage, and the ability to haul something bigger than a suitcase. The standard version suits my needs just fine. Overall grade B+. Drives and handles similar to previous 2015 fusion. I've heard they have the same chassis. More "features" would have lowered grade for me. Push button start has NO purpose, and can be a safety hazard-no ignition interlock … etc. Start stop is a battery killer in the midwest, and everyone I know has bypassed or disabled it. Myself, I'll save the 3k for foot activated liftgate. I realize some people want all the bells and whistles, but I don't. I have also owned 2011 and 2008 escapes. Biggest irritation with this one is liftgate ajar alarm. If you ever have to haul something with the liftgate strapped down(not able to close it), this alarm will drive you nuts, and there is no way to shut it off
2018 Escape Highlights
|Combined MPG||24 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$159/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
Our experts like the Escape models:
- Enables the owner to set speed limits/alerts, audio system volume and satellite radio content restrictions for other drivers of the Escape.
- Lane Keeping System
- Alerts the driver when the car starts to drift out of its lane by vibrating the steering wheel and adding correctional steering if needed.
- Blind-Spot Information System (BLIS)
- Illuminates an indicator light in the side mirror when a vehicle enters the blind spot. Also includes integrated rear cross-traffic alert.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover19.1%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestAcceptable
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestPoor
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood