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2017 Ford Escape SE FWD Review By John Heilig

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2017 Ford Escape

By John Heilig
Senior and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

ENGINE: 2.0-liter Ecoboost I-4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with Select Shift
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 245 hp @ 5,500 rpm/275 lb.-ft. @ 3,000 rpm
WHEELBASE: 105.9 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 178.1 x 81.8 x 66.3 in.
TIRES: P235/60R18
CARGO CAPACITY: 34/68 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)
ECONOMY: 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/21.4 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 15.7 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,613 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Honda CR-V, Buick Encore, Kia Sportage
STICKER: $32,165 (includes $895 delivery, $6,175 options)

BOTTOM LINE: Significantly updated for the 2017 model year, the Ford Escape proves why it is Ford’s second-most popular nameplate, behind the F-150. A small SUV in a crowded market classification, it is a good size with good ride qualities and features.

I know Ford Escapes are popular vehicles because I see a lot of them on the road. But, in my area of the world, we also see a lot of Subarus, and overall, they aren’t that popular. But I was surprised to learn that it sits only behind the F-150 among Ford’s vehicles in popularity.

There’s a reason. The 2017 updates only serve to enhance what was a pretty good vehicle in 2016. Besides a redesign that gives the Escape a fresher look, there are feature changes that also help. Start-stop technology, in which the engine shuts down on common stops, then restarts when you lift your foot off the brake, is new. SST is a given with hybrid vehicles, but the Escape is a “normal” gasoline vehicle. While fuel economy numbers are good at 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, we only achieved 21.9 mpg in our test, which consisted primarily of local driving.

The 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine is rated at 245 horsepower, more than adequate for the 3,613-pound Escape. We did a lot of local driving, but our longer turnpike run proved the engine was definitely powerful enough. Adaptive cruise control, where the vehicle automatically slows down when you approach a slower vehicle, is also a great safety addition.

The interior redesign has placed all the controls where they should be. For example, the former hand actuated parking brake has been replaced with a push-button electronic parking brake, freeing up space in the cockpit. The gear lever has also been moved rearward to provide better access to climate controls on the center stack as well as a “media bin” at the base of the center stack with USB and 12-volt ports.

I liked the overall dash design. It isn’t just a flat panel, but has some 3D sculpting to it. There are leather-like hard surfaces with brushed aluminum trim. 

Speaking of the HVAC system, it did a great job in some pretty cold weather, warming the cockpit quickly.

We had to use the navigation system to find a location about an hour from our home (and return home). Programming the destination was done the “normal” way (to me), entering address, town and state in that order. Granted we didn’t change state, but the system figured out the town before I entered it.

Front seats are leather and heated without a lot of side support. Side support isn’t necessary because you won’t be pulling a lot of side G forces anyway in the Escape. All door panels are large enough to hold water bottles. 

Rear seat legroom is good, and a flat floor in the middle makes sitting there more comfortable. There is also good outside visibility from the rear seats. Rear passengers have the use of a 110-volt outlet at the rear of the center console and personal HVAC controls.

SUVs, no matter what the size, live for cargo capacity, and the Escape does its job well. With the rear seats up there are 34 cubic feet of storage in the carpeted cargo area, with four tie-downs. Fold the rear seat backs and cargo capacity doubles to 68 cubic feet. The rear seats fold flat using a lever located at the cushion.

Ford’s SYNC Connect and I have always had a tortuous relationship. Still, if you can get it to work for you, it has multiple options, including audio, phone, navigation, apps (Bluetooth, mobile apps, Sirius travel link), settings (sound clock, Bluetooth, phone, navigation, mobile apps, general (language, etc.)) and 911 assist.

There was a time in our life when my wife and I needed large vehicles. But now that our daughters are out of the house, a more practical size is more appropriate. The Ford Escape would fit the bill nicely.

(c) The Auto Page Syndicate

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