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He said/She said: 2017 Ford Escape

Some small changes on the inside made some big improvements. Ford moved the gear shifter to allow easier access to the climate buttons. The armrest is now longer and on my 900km road trip I was happy to have the extra inches.

  • 2017 Ford Escape

Styling

For 2017 Ford has introduced a major refresh for the Escape. Most of the design cues on the front and back have been changed. The front end now has the hexagonal grille that is seen across the Ford family and it looks like the Edge has a smaller sibling.

Lacey Elliott: This model refresh also sees the Sport Appearance Package that adds 19-inch black painted aluminum wheels, black exterior trim pieces, leather trimmed seats with great looking contrast stitching and a leather shift knob and steering wheel. For a few thousand it makes this little SUV look more grown up.

Some small changes on the inside made some big improvements. Ford moved the gear shifter to allow easier access to the climate buttons. The armrest is now longer and on my 900km road trip I was happy to have the extra inches. By getting rid of the old lever style parking brake and replacing it with an modern push button style, more room is available for updated cup holders extra storage bins.

Dan Heyman: Oh…my…lord. How good is that Sport Appearance Package? Those 19” black wheels? The Ruby Red paint? This is stuff that I might expect from something like a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, and not the Escape. After all; that is a massive seller and often, manufacturers are nervous about making their massive sellers too bright; after all, how many grey, black and white crossovers do we see on our roads today? Yes, the $1,500 it takes to get the package ($450 more for the paint) will be off-putting to some and we probably won’t see a huge amount of these in this spec, but I know my Escape would have it.

What’s good, however, is how the stuff that all Escapes get is so well done. The grille and headlights are so much better than they were before, and if it weren’t for those annoying – and fake — “grilles” on the front fenders, I’ve a hard time finding much to complain about when it comes to the Escape’s looks.

COMPETITORThe trail-rated Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

escape

On The Road

LE: The first thing that I noticed on this 2017 Escape is the incredibly quiet interior. My 900km test drive took me from Calgary to Jasper and back. The roads are steep and windy and very little noise crept into the cabin from the engine or the road. It made conversations easy and really added to the enjoyable ride.

On the 10+ hours in this little SUV I drove through pretty much every kind of weather imaginable. Rain, sleet, hail and even a bit of snow; not once did the Escape feel unstable. Torque vectoring control continuously balances the delivery of torque to the front wheels based on driving situations and available traction. It stayed planted and felt composed in every curve and in all the tremulous weather.

Ford offers two new EcoBoost engines on this Escape; a 1.5 litre and a 2.0 litre twin scroll. The base S model comes with a holdover 2.5 litre 4-cylinder. All engines are matched to a very smooth shifting 6-speed automatic. The SE and Titanium come with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for drivers who want to be more involved.

ecoboost engines

I spent the majority of my time behind the wheel of the 2.0litre and was enthralled with its power. With 245hp and 275lb-ft of torque it climbs hills and passes other vehicles without giving it a second thought.

Manufacturers have been using start-stop technology to improve fuel economy. This means that when you are sitting at idle, the engine shuts off and when you lift your foot from the brake pedal, the engine starts immediately. Most other deliveries of this type of system are awkward and loud. Ford has managed to make this system feel almost seamless.

escape start stop

DH: The new 1.5L EcoBoost engine in the car you see in these pics is a smooth engine; smooth in its reaction, smooth in its power delivery and smooth in its report, too, as Lacey mentioned. 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque aren’t huge figures, but the only time I found myself really needing more power (that’s need, not want; I ALWAYS want more power!) was during steep climbs or the occasional high speed pass. It’s good there’s an option for a more powerful 2.0 L EcoBoost engine.

ALSO READFord Escape gets major makeover for 2017

What should please both the power-hungry and the power-happy, however, is the Escape’s ride. It’s properly soft without getting too out of sorts unless you really start pushing it, which isn’t really what a vehicle like this is all about, anyway. Confidence-inspiring handling on the highway, however, is of utmost importance here and the Escape doesn’t disappoint in this regard.

Technology & Safety

LE: Canadians will be happy to know that a standard feature on the Escape is the windshield wiper de-icer. A heating element embedded in the windshield clears light snow and ice from the wiper blades in under 10 minutes. I personally can’t get through one of our winters without heated seats. They come standard on the SE and the Titanium as does heated mirrors and an engine block heater.

One of my favorite features is the foot active hands free power lift gate. It’s the only vehicle in this class to offer it and it’s standard on the top Titanium trim.

The new SYNC 3 delivers incredible connectivity and allows you to keep your eyes on the road. I used Apple CarPlay for this trip and was able to make hands-free calls, search for music and control the navigation through the voice recognition. Technology like this takes a while to get used to and I can see how it would be really fantastic once you have lived with it for a while.

sync 3

DH: De-icers, power lift gates – yeah, yeah, yeah. That stuff’s important, I get it. For me, though, the tech story on the Escape is the addition of SYNC3. Ford’s old infotainment system was, to put it nicely, lacking in so many ways to the competition. Less-than-responsive touchscreens, small buttons, dreary circa-Windows ’98 graphics; it had it all. The quadrant system was OK, I guess, but that’s some small solace.

With the addition of SYNC3, Ford has catapulted itself to the front of the in-car infotainment game. Crisp graphics, responsive, easy-to read buttons and an all-new layout all make for a much easier process. Not only does it look fantastic and require less patience to operate, it’s safer, too, because you aren’t siting there prodding the screen when you should be focused on the road ahead. You can also easily swap between Apple CarPlay and SYNC, which is important. It’s a shame you can’t get it on base S models, but when most are likely going to be opting for the SE trim, anyway, that’s easier to forgive.

escape interior

LE: I think the SE will be the volume seller with a starting price close to $28,000. The Titanium that I spent most of this drive in has a starting price of close to $34,000. What I love the most about this small SUV is that I can get all the same features normally offered on the full-size Edge, but for thousands of dollars less. Because of its size, it is more city friendly and still gives me more than enough space for all my adventures.

DH: Ford would be loathed to get one of its biggest sellers wrong, and indeed, they really haven’t. It’s no more spacious but is airier thanks to a clever re-jigging of the interior controls. It looks fantastic, gets two very good engine choices, and has a competitive starting price. The compact crossover segment is an ultra-competitive one, but the Escape looks ready to keep its championship belt.

ALSO READ: Forester still defines the compact CUV

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