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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2016 FORD ESCAPE REVIEW


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE ESCAPE VEHICLE
Advanced technology continues to be the draw of the Ford Escape, and that includes what’s going on under hood as well as at the tip of your fingers where media connectivity is concerned. Think of this smaller crossover as the more refined version of the segment bunch.

I drove a 2016 Ford Escape with the upgraded turbocharged 240-horsepower 2-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Three trims are offered – the base S, a mid-level SE, and my fully loaded Titanium test drive. The Escape Titanium comes with the follow standard features: leather-trimmed upholstery; heated front bucket seats; a ten-way power driver’s seat; Sony audio system; dual-zone climate control; rearview camera with a 4.2-inch screen; the all-new SYNC 3 system for voice-activated communication; hands-free foot-activated liftgate; and roof rack side rails. Total price as described without options came to $29,505.

Ford claims the BlackBerry-powered SYNC 3 infotainment system has an easier menu and quicker response time in comparison to the previous program with the home screen mimicking more of a smart phone. Major competitors include the Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Escape remains to have an edge over cheaper compact SUV competitors due to a more refined interior and design execution. If you were used Ford MyTouch, you might find SYNC 3 easier to use but a dumbed-down version with less visual flare – and a 4.2-inch screen doesn’t help sell the new presentation – but as promised, it is quicker to use. Roominess is another draw to the Escape with handy one-touch levers to push the second row down. Options on my test drive included the Titanium Technology Package (HID headlights, Blind Spot Detection, Active Park Assist), nineteen-inch Luster Nickel-Painted wheels, a panoramic Vista Roof, and a navigation system.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2016 Ford Escape as “Good” results in all crash-test areas except for small overlap front which earned a “Poor” (you can view actual crash results on their web page). The vehicle has an overall score of 4-Stars with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with side crash earning the best results. The NHTSA now recommends technologies, citing the rearview video systems as needed for the Escape.

Cost Issues: The base 2016 Ford Escape starts at $23,100 with my Titanium trim reaching near $35k with options. The 2016 Hyundai Tucson starts at $22,700 with its sister competitor the Kia Sportage at $21,150. Starting price for the entry-level luxury 2016 Acura RXD small crossover is $35,270.

Activity & Performance Ability: Engines and general performance is another highlight of the Ford Escape, and the upgraded 220-horsepower 2-liter engine outshines most competitors with its precise steering, zero-hesitation acceleration and quick cornering action. The next step up would be going with the pricier Acura RDX and the new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder paired to a seven-speed transmission.

The Green Concern: With the upgraded, more powerful EcoBoost engine and all-wheel drive, fuel economy is 21-city and 28-highway for a combined 23 miles-per-gallon. Keep in mind the more expensive 2016 Acura RDX retains an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 19 miles-per-gallon city and 28 highway for 22 combined with all-wheel drive – very good for a 3.5-liter V6. And while the Honda CR-V and Kia Sportage can deliver a combined 25 miles-per-gallon under their four-cylinders with all-wheel drive systems, the acceleration and overall ride is just not as impressive.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Advanced performance and media technologies give the 2016 Ford Escape a segment edge, along with a more refined cabin approach and interior feel. Definitely a step up from your basic compact crossovers!

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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