The third-generation Ford Escape gets a major mid-cycle refresh for the 2017-MY, including two new engines, fuel-efficiency gains, and a host of new infotainment and safety technology, to remain competitive in a compact crossover segment that also includes the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Subaru Forester.
The Escape hangs its hat on manly styling, high ground clearance and seating positions, a spacious interior, and above-average towing capacity. The exterior styling is much the same as the outgoing model’s — save for the trapezoidal grille borrowed from the mid-size Edge — but beneath the skin, Ford’s engineers went the extra mile to keep the Escape in contention.
Under the hood, the base Escape S's 2.5-liter inline four returns with 168 horsepower (hp), 170 pound-feet (lb.-ft.), and a decent combined fuel efficiency grade of 24 miles per gallon (mpg).
Escape SE and Titanium buyers can choose from two new turbocharged EcoBoost engines: The 1.5 clocks in at 179 hp, 177 lb.-ft., and 26 combined mpg while the 2.0 brings 245 horsies, 275 lb.-ft., and only gives away a single mpg in combined driving. Those figures don’t take into account the automatic start/stop functionality that comes with both turbos and is expected to improve city fuel economy by 5% or more.
Four-wheel drive is available across the lineup. Adding a factory tow package to the 2.0 allows fleet drivers to haul up to 3,500 pounds.
The cockpit retains the utilitarian appeal of the outgoing model, right down to the analog gauges, but it’s powered by the debut of Ford SYNC 3, a new infotainment system that replaces the oft-maligned MyFord Touch. An available smartphone app, SYNC Connect, allows drivers to locate, lock, start, and check the vehicle’s fuel levels remotely.
All Escapes come equipped with cruise control, a rearview camera, and six-speaker audio. Upgrading to the SE and Titanium trims brings an available Sport Appearance package as well as bigger wheels and such uptown accessories as leather, auto headlights, powered front seats, and the Escape’s signature hands-free powered liftgate.
Options available across the lineup include adaptive cruise control with forward-collision alert, lane-keeping and park assist, a panoramic sunroof, and LED taillights.
The 2017 Ford Escape is available now with a starting MSRP of $23,600.