Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: May 16, 2016
JASPER, Alberta - We’re not surprised that the Ford Escape is Canada’s best selling crossover, with over 47,000 units sold in 2015 alone. That figure does not even count Ford’s other successful SUVs like the Edge and the Explorer. With its inoffensive and handsome looks, well-built interior and functional cabin, the Escape is the go-to option for the everyday family, but crossovers and SUVs never used to be this popular. Back in 2001 when the Escape was initially launched, its only competitors were the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Subaru Forester. Now there are a whopping 21 other entries aiming for the first place prize.
So how exactly do you stay on top of the throne year after year? How do you improve when you are already the best? Well, you listen to customer feedback, maintain quality and safety standards, keep what has worked, stay modernized, and improve on the rest. That’s just what Ford has done to their new 2017 Escape, and to show us what the hype is all about, Ford invited us out to Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada to test drive their new and refreshed king of the hill.
The blue oval has given the Escape a makeover this year with a more rugged design that draws familial resemblance to the bigger brother Edge. The biggest departure is from the front angle, with that menacing trapezoidal grill and sharper HID lights, but the rest of the vehicle could easily be mistaken for the previous model. That being said, they’ve still managed to modernize the look, taking cues from the family DNA and offering up youthful appeal to trending rivals like the Hyundai Tuscon and Kia Sportage.
There is even a new Sport Appearance package available ($1,200) that spruces up the Escape with blacked-out 19-inch wheels, upper grille, front fender, fog lamp bezels, side vents, side rails, mirror caps, and darkened head- and tail-lamp trims. Think of it like the Night Package or Black Package from other automakers that substitutes all the chrome bits for glossy black bits, and we think it looks phenomenal. It is a clever decision by Ford and a nice way to stand out from competitors like the CR-V and RAV4 that lack these aesthetic tweaks.
Ford has also managed to tidy up the interior. Following customer feedback and complaints about the lack of center storage space for phones, bags, keys, and the like, they have switched the old clunky handbrake lever with an electronic push-button variant, helping to free up a ton of usable space. Now there is also a handy front-mounted USB plug, bigger cupholders, a longer driver’s armrest, a repositioned gear shifter that allows for easier access to climate buttons, and a massive center cubby that Ford says is around 50% larger than before. Now that is how you please the masses.
The cabin feels much larger than before, especially with the addition of the large sunroof ($1,750). Angular shaped vents and unsymmetrical buttons and knobs adorn the cabin, but overall it works well with the Escape’s theme of ergonomics and functionality. A slightly restyled steering wheel also graces the driver, with a few relocated buttons and a meaty leather grip.
Ford says that the new Escape is the quietest vehicle in the segment due to improved seals, acoustic glass, more aerodynamic side mirrors, and improved insulation, and we usually aren’t one to argue. Throughout our time with the vehicle, we did notice its vault-like qualities, even at triple digit speeds, but we aren’t sure if it’s quieter than the competition mainly due to the abrasive winds at Jasper National Park elevation. Another road test back in our home streets of Toronto would be needed to conclude on that.
The touch feedback is wonderful, intuitive, responsive, and lagless. Gone is the four-corner design in place of this almost Apple-like design with large buttons and fonts for easy picking. In addition, there is less of a learning curve here than other systems on the market, with clearly marked tabs and unambiguous menu titles. SYNC 3 also comes standard with SIRI integration, so hook up your iPhone, hit the dedicated button on the steering wheel, and summon SIRI to do your bidding.
Also a Ford first is the integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which I am a huge fan of, but I’ll put myself on record and say that SYNC 3 is the first system that I’ve preferred over them.
Okay so the new Escape looks great and the interior has been renovated and tidied up. What about under the hood? Well that happens to be one of the most notable features. Optional on the SE and standard on the Titanium trim is a newly revised 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged EcoBoost engine that produces 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, the highest output of any four-cylinder in its segment.
It’s an engine borrowed from the Ford Edge, but tuned a little differently with new pistons, exhaust manifold, and auto start/stop technology (it shuts off the engine when idling so the vehicle doesn’t waste fuel). With the optional Class II Tow Package ($500), the Escape can even tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The new four-pot is smooth and provides vigorous engine response with an abundance of low-end torque, making sweet overtakes and passing slow trailers on the one-lane highways of Calgary a breeze. The six-speed transmission is also incredibly well tuned to match, with seamless shifts that mainly go unnoticed. It’s also nice to have the ability to control the swaps manually via the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel.
The base S model comes with a carried over 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder, while the mid-level SE trim on the other hand comes standard (optional on the S) with the smaller 1.5-litre EcoBoost turbocharged engine that delivers 179 hp and 186 lb-ft, which is nothing to scoff at. It’s an engine that is shared with the Ford Fusion, and while we only had a brief opportunity to drive an Escape loaded with this powerplant, we can easily report that it’s not as exciting or as muscular as the bigger 2.0-litre.
Be that as it may, it still performs wonderfully and at par with the CR-V and RAV4. Lag is a little more apparently off the line, power delivery isn’t as smooth, but we’re only complaining because we’ve already been spoiled by the bigger one. Both are enjoyable options but if you can appreciate the power, stick with the 2.0-litre.
Of course, four-wheel drive is available on all Escapes for an extra $2,200, with the ability to transfer 100% of torque from the front wheels to the rear, ensuring that you’re never stuck off the beaten path, or if you just want that extra sense of security. The steering is well weighted, the on-center feel is average but it’s still eager to rotate back to the center after a turn.
Finding a snug driving position in the Escape is incredibly easy, which isn’t something I say too regularly about compact crossovers. There is outstanding visibility from all viewpoints with the safety tech to match and outshine other competitors at this price point.
Adaptive Cruise Control makes an appearance, though we found that it wasn’t as smooth as other examples on the market. The ride becomes quite jerky when following a vehicle in front, as the sensors don’t allow the Escape to decelerate smoothly, rather it favours using the brakes instead. Other notable driver-assist technologies making its way to the Escape is enhanced active park assist, which aids in autonomous parallel or perpendicular parking, and lane-keeping assist that alerts drivers when they are drifting out of their lane.
Back by popular demand is blind spot monitoring, hill-start assist, automatic high beams, and a hands free liftgate – a swift hover kick under the rear bumper with the keyfob in your pocket will open it right up.
An innovative new feature debuting in the Escape is SYNC Connect, an app that allows owners to remotely start their vehicle, schedule future starts, as well as lock and unlock their vehicles from their smartphones. SYNC Connect also provides real-time location of the Escape (aka. where’s my spouse?) and updates on service requirements. Ford hasn’t mentioned pricing, but it comes with free activation for the first five years of ownership.
As before, there are still three trims to choose from: S, SE, and Titanium, priced at $25,099, $27,599, and $33,799, respectively.
Ford says the SE variant is the projected volume seller, possibly accounting for at least 70% of Escapes sold in Canada, and for good reason. Bundled as standard features are heated front seats, heated mirrors, an engine block heater, rear view camera, remote keyless entry, and windshield wiper de-icer to thaw your wipers in thick of winter. The aforementioned Sport Appearance Package is only available on the SE and Titanium trims. Notable standard equipment on the Titanium includes a 10-speaker Sony Audio system, leather trimmed seats, SYNC Connect, hands-free liftgate, and LED headlights.
Crammed with a host of new technology and a pair of new EcoBoost engines, and it’s clear that Ford will not give up its coveted title of Canada’s best selling crossover so easily. Offering many features that competitors do not, such as enhanced park assist, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, and SIRI integration, and you can tell they are trying hard to win over the younger generation as well. Harnessing an appealing starting price lower than its hottest podium competitors such as the $26,290 Honda CR-V and $25,240 Toyota RAV4, the reigning champ may just be able to keep its belt a little longer.
型号 Model: 2017 Ford Escape Titanium
顏色 Paint Type: Lightning Blue / Canyon Ridge
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $33,799 (Titanium 4WD)
試車售價 Price as Tested: $42,649
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,690
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,524 / 1,838 / 1,684
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,707 (Titanium 4WD)
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder (optional on S, SE) (standard on Titanium)
最大馬力 Horsepower: 245 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 275 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.5 / 8.7 / 10.2
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.9 (mainly highway)