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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2017 FORD ESCAPE REVIEW


2017 FORD ESCAPE REVIEW (select to view enlarged photo)

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


INTRO TO THE ESCAPE VEHICLE
Shopping for a small crossover these days can be a real nail biter, with the ultimate choice coming down to a few minor details or preferences. The Ford Escape should be make your short list, especially if simplified technology at your fingertips (and under the hood) is what ignites your soul and pocketbook.

I drove a 2017 Ford Escape with the new turbocharged1.5-liter EcoBoost engine with Auto Start-Stop Technology mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Three trims are offered – the base S, a mid-level SE, Titanium – with my SE test drive featuring the follow standards: clothe upholstery; a ten-way power driver’s seat; a six-speaker audio system; dual-zone climate control; rearview camera; and SYNC communication. Total price as described without options came to $25,100 without options.

For the 2017 model year, the Escape gets revised exterior styling plus the new 1.5-liter and a re-tweaked 2-liter engine. Ford claims the BlackBerry-powered SYNC 3 infotainment system has an easier menu and quicker response time in comparison to the previous program. Major competitors include the Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Good, bad or indifferent, Ford does a great job of disguising what you don’t get by crafting a high-quality cabin using quality materials – almost everything convent is an upgrade or at the Titanium trim. My SE test drive was cleverly outfitted with a few packages to show consumers what you can get for under $30k, and included a $1,395 Tech Package (reverse sensing system, roof-rack side rails, Blind Spot Information System and the much-needed SYNC 3 upgrade needed or Apple CarPlay and Android Auto); a $495 power liftgate; a $795 navigation system; and a $1,295 SE Sport Appearance Package (leather-wrapped steering wheel, nineteen-inch premium alloy wheels). The Escape is certainly handy and accommodating where space is concerned with one-touch levers to push the second row down for 68 cubic-square feet.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2017 Ford Escape as “Good” results in all crash-test areas except for small overlap front which earned an “Acceptable” (you can view actual crash results on their web page). The vehicle has an overall score of 5-Stars with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Only at the Titanium trim are you going to get the full spectrum of safety technologies like the Lane-Keeping System with Lane-Keep Alert, Lane-Keeping Aid and Driver Alert System.

Cost Issues: The base 2017 Ford Escape starts at $23,100 with my mid-SE trim and options costing $29,975. That means a top-of-the-line Titanium trim can reach $35k with options (my current 2017 Honda CR-V test drive with all the bells and whistles is at that price mark).

Activity & Performance Ability: EcoBoost engines are a highlight for Ford, and the new 1.5-liter behaves with zest and command. There is also the revised 2-liter and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder – the more power you seek and the less fuel economy you’ll have, of course. All-wheel drive is an option. It’s one of the better-handling SUVs in its class and comfortable for long drives. If you’re looking for something with deeper guts, try the pricier Acura RDX with the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder paired to a seven-speed transmission.

The Green Concern: The 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine with front-wheel drive retains 23 miles-per-gallon city and 30 highway for a combined average of 26. Unfortunately, that average is “so last year” as my current Honda CR-V test drive with the 1.5-liter and all-wheel drive is netting 28.8 miles-per-gallon on average.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Ford did good by offering a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine that impresses on the road. Unfortunately, its fuel economy comes up short compared to the Honda CR-V’s same-sized powertrain that netted me 28.8 miles-per-gallon (and with all-wheel drive). Again, it all comes down to a few personal preferences for this segment and if it’s nicer cabin materials you seek, go with the Escape.

©2017 Katrina Ramser


2017 FORD ESCAPE REVIEW (select to view enlarged photo)