Can It Keep Up With The Competition?
Ford Escape is an important model for Ford, as it is one of the best- selling ones in North America. It is not that surprising, as SUV market grows rapidly, the competition gets very fierce. This is the last year of current generation Escape, and we wanted to do a farewell review for it. The competition mostly has recently updated models and this review shows if the 2019 Escape can keep up with them.
Exterior And Interior
This is the third generation Escape, which is first released in 2013. It underwent a small refresh in 2017, and compared to pre-facelift version, it looks more like a smaller-scaled Edge. Unlike the previous generation which was a square design, this looks more like a modern SUV. Interestingly, it was designed by Ford of Europe, where the compact SUV is sold as Ford Kuga in. It is not that hard to see European design elements, and I think this is one of the better-looking alternatives in this segment. Our tester was the range-topping Titanium version, which comes with 19” aluminum wheels and we think this is one of the best combination if you are looking for an Escape.
When we get inside the Escape, we see lots of soft-touch plastics, especially in the upper side of dashboard and front doors. This car is from 2013, and the interior still doesn’t look old. Of course, we are not a fan of Ford’s infotainment system, and we wish they have updated it in 2017, but we are aware that it will be refreshed pretty soon. Ford Escape falls behind the competition when it comes to combined legroom, as it is significantly shorter than some of its rivals such as Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V.
Engine And Drivetrain
Ford Escape comes with three different engine options and optional All Wheel Drive system. Base version come with naturally aspirated 2.5L engine, middle trims get 1.5L turbocharged Ecoboost engine. If you opt for the Titanium trim, it comes with 2.0L turbocharged Ecoboost and All-Wheel Drive engine standard which our tester had that. 2.0L engine produces 245 horsepower and 275 ft-lbs of torque but it requires Premium gas. We didn’t have a chance to try the base 2.5L or turbocharged 1.5L engine, but we can assure you, you should go with the 2.0L engine as it is borderline fast but doesn’t like being over 4500 rpm at all. It has a lot of torque down low and mid-range rpms, but once you go over 4000 rpms, you feel it starts to fade significantly. It is obvious that this engine is tuned for daily driving and you shouldn’t expect more than that. Our mixed-mood test drive delivered an average consumption of 11.5 liters of regular, which is good considering its weight and All Wheel Drive system.
The transmission is not that exciting either. It is an oldschool 6-speed automatic transmission with no paddle shifts on steering wheel. Ford decided to use the same shift buttons they use on F-150, which is not really engaging when driving. If you keep it at D, it is smooth and more than enough for commuting. It has slow response to manual upshifting and downshifting. Again, despite having impressive numbers on paper, it is unable to offer “wow” effect when driving. At least, they still use torque converted automatic instead of a CVT, which means it is more reliable on the long term. We can definitely say this engine transmission combo is one of the smoothest on the market, but you shouldn’t expect anything else.
The all-wheel drive system is a little bit different story though. It is one of the better alternatives on the market, as this is not just an on-demand system. It is definitely a front-biased one, but it doesn’t engage like an ON/OFF switch that makes driving experience smoother. The rear wheels work most of the time as you can also see how it works in the instrument cluster. To keep a long story short, definitely get the Escape with All-Wheel-Drive. We think the braking performance is as good as the all-wheel-drive system, and we are really impressed with it. Initial bite is great, it doesn’t feel spongy and extremely sensitive for driver inputs.
Things get more complicated when it comes to driving it daily, because that’s when you see how it falls behind and you start to feel it is getting older. Ford tried its best to keep up with the competition, by implementing half baked technologies. For instance, we were definitely expecting a premium sound system in a top trim. It has a Sony badge on the head unit so we assume it is better than the lower trims, but it definitely lacks mid-range frequency. If you are an audiophile, it may not be the best option for you. Another example is, there is an adaptive cruise control but it is unable to work under 30 km/h which is quite disappointing. Almost all other competition already integrated full stop & go feature whereas this one just leaves you on your own when you need it most.
We nitpick because the competition in this segment is intense. However, we are talking about an SUV which is from 2013, so it may be difficult for Ford to fully implement latest technologies. We are sure Ford will add these features in the next generation, but this is what we have so far. There are some nice features as well. Leather trimmed power seats, keyless entry and start-stop system, foot-activated liftgate, heated steering wheel, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, two-zone automatic air conditioning system, panoramic sunroof, front collision warning system, blind spot monitoring, park assist system, HID Bi-Xenon headlights and so on.
The most important question is, can it keep up with the competition? Yes and no. Yes, because it is aged really well. Interior and exterior still looks great. It is smooth, comfortable and we are sure it will be more reliable with that torque converted automatic transmission than CVT offerings of other manufacturers. We would say no, because technology wise, it is falling behind the competition. If you are not the most tech-savvy person and looking for an SUV offers great comfort, smoothness, easy to use, and if you find a good deal, we would recommend the Ford Escape. It starts at $24,218 Canadian and goes up to $38,000 with 2.0L Ecoboost engine and All-Wheel Drive.
Some of our takeaways are:
+ Drivetrain smoothness
+ Overall comfort and ease of use
+ Competitive pricing
Things can be improved:
– Sound system should be better
– Half-baked features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with no Stop & Go