HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 FORD ESCAPE REVIEW
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel KATRINA SAYS: The 2014 Ford Escape is a top small crossover pick thanks to excellent fuel economy and value, with its edge being a more refined cabin and interesting options like a foot-activated liftgate.
INTRO TO THE ESCAPE VEHICLE
Advanced technologies – including a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and a class-exclusive foot-activated liftgate – are the differentiating draws for this smaller crossover that competes against top segment competitors as the popular Honda CR-V, the redesigned Toyota RAV4 and the value-driven Kia Sportage.
I drove a 2014 Ford Escape with the standard direct-injection turbocharged 178-horsepower 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Trims this year have narrowed down to three – the base S, my mid-level SE, and the fully loaded Titanium. My SE test drive came with the follow standard feature highlights: cloth-trimmed upholstery; a ten-way power driver’s seat; nine-speaker audio system; dual-zone climate control; rearview camera with a 4.2-inch screen; SYNC with MyFord for voice-activated communication; seventeen-inch chrome wheels; and dual chrome exhaust tips. Total price as described without options came to $25,550.
The Escape took on some major additions last model year; including the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, optional four-wheel drive, and a nifty motion-sensing liftgate that unlocks and activates with just a gentle kick under the rear bumper. Changes for 2014 appear to be a strategic reshuffling of standard and optional features between the three trim grades.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Escape clearly has an edge over a few competitors thank to a more sophisticated cabin using finer materials and better design execution, making the car seem more expensive than it really – a trademark Ford took up before the economic collapse. Concerned about competitive value, Ford has attempted to piece out features with the Escape as evenly as possible as to what’s offered on the Honda CR-V trims. That means the SE no longer as standard leather upholstery and heated seats, yet power seating is now gained for the trim – a feature I had highly recommended, so you no longer have to move up one trim level and associated costs just to get it. However, cargo spaciousness goes to the CR-V.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ranks the 2014 Ford Escape as a Top Safety Pick with “Good” results in all crash-test areas (you can view actual results on the webpage). The vehicle has an overall score of 4-Stars with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with side crash earning the best results. Some interesting optional safety equipment includes a hands-free Active Park Assist and Curve Control cornering technology.
Cost Issues: Ford didn’t up the price for the model, but as I’ve sited, they did remove some key standard features for my test drive trim like leather and heated seats. A cost of $25,500 for the mid-level Escape SE aligns with the competitors. But like most domestics, options for a Ford can start to add up. A Limited trim starts at $29,100, but consumers will have to tack on a few thousand more for a moonroof, bigger wheels, and touchscreen navigation (the foot-activated liftgate is offered only on the limited and comes as a standard feature).
Activity & Performance Ability: Drivers will appreciate the1.6-liter EcoBoost engine’s authoritative attitude and efficient results at a combined 26 miles-per-gallon with front-wheel drive. Sharp steering feedback and quick cornering action earn the Escape a right to be labeled sporty. Although I contest you’ll be happy with the smaller powertrain, there is also a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 240-horsepower 2-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that can deliver a more satisfying experience on highway inclines.
The Green Concern: Ford remains competitive by delivering 25 miles-per-gallon combined under the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine with four-wheel drive – same as competitors like the RAV4, CR-V and Sportage.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2014 Ford Escape remains a top smaller crossover pick thanks to competitive fuel economy and a value-driven price, with its edge being a more refined cabin and such clever options as the foot-activated liftgate.
©2014 Katrina Ramser