Archive for March 2020

2020 Ford Escape

In the most competitive segment of the autos in Canada and in most parts of the world, Ford introduced the new Escape. FoMoCo is relying more and more on SUV’s, CUV’s and trucks while moving away from passenger cars excluding the Mustang. The new Escape is a courageous step.

With 279K vehicles (rounded) sold in Canada in 2019, Ford is the best-selling brand here for 11 years in a row. Out of this number, nearly 40K was an Escape. So the stakes are high.

Exterior and Interior

A well-designed and executed dashboard leaves little room for error

Ford Escape has completely new design inside and outside this year. Though it is a subjective matter, I am not a fan of the newer design. It looks much like a raised Focus. If we have to rephrase this, it looks much more civilized and previous generation Escape looks much more rugged and more like a proper SUV. Like it or not, it represents overall Ford design elements really well. If you take off the Ford badge, people would still recognize this is a Ford product. Also, 19″ Aluminum rims looks excellent in my opinion, but it only comes with the top trim.

19″ aluminium wheels are standard in titanium trim level

Interior design is another story. Like exterior, it is completely new, nothing looks similar to the previous generation. It looks much more civilized like the exterior, however this one fits better for the Escape, as the potential buyers are looking for more luxury in this kind of competitive segment. The dashboard has lots of soft touch plastics and leather, maybe not on par with premium German rivals, but pretty good for what it is.

Rear legroom is one of the most important factors for an SUV, as this is a utility vehicle, there has to be plenty of space for families and hauling. Latest generation Escape has significantly more rear legroom compared to it’s previous generation. 2020 Escape is approximately 2 inches longer compared to the 2019, as well as longer wheelbase. The only thing that 2020 Escape falls behind compared to 2019 is the cargo capacity, which is a slight decrease from 68 cubic-feet to 65.4. However, with the sliding second-row seats, Ford offers a smart solution. According to the volume of cargo and the number of passengers you can significantly increase the cargo space when you need or provide more legroom for the rear-seat passengers. And advantage that neither the RAV-4, nor the CR-V can offer.

The cargo room is less than in Toyota RAV 4 and Honda CR-V, however, with sliding second-row seats, Ford offers a more flexible and smarter solution: More room for cargo or passengers depending on the needs.

The steering wheel is probably the only item that looks similar to the one in the previous generation Escape. The buttons are easy to use, and doesn’t take much time to get used to it. The only thing that I wasn’t a fan is the type of leather chosen to use in the steering wheel. It is extremely stiff and doesn’t feel like a leather. It feels more like a polyurethane cheap plastic, so this is where Ford needs to look into it.

The top Titanium trim comes with digital instrument cluster which offers a clear view of the most important information without distraction

The top trim comes with digital gauge cluster, and it is easy to see when it is sunny, and it is not going to hurt your eyes when it is dark. It is not 100% customizable, but it changes its colors depending on driving mode and there are lots of information available. Though we must say, there is a little bit lag when you switch driving modes, and considering this is a brand new car, this shouldn’t be the case.

Probably the most significant change after the overall interior design is the infotainment system and 8 inch touchscreen. Compared to the previous generation, this is also a completely different software, and it works perfectly. This is where Ford really paid attention and unlike the previous gen, it looks much more up-to-date. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and they both work smoothly. The touch screen works accurately and it is very responsive.

There are multiple different categories placed in the bottom which you see Audio, Phone, Nav, Apps and Settings. In the main screen, it is divided to three different sections. You can see your media, nav and other information gathered in one screen. You can also adjust driving assistance settings through the infotainment system. Overall, we enjoyed using the infotainment system, it is a significant update, and can keep up many years without looking outdated.

Engine and Drivetrain

2.0L, 4-cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost engine delivers 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque.

New Escape comes with 4 different engines, 2 hybrid and 2 gas powered options. Base trim comes with 1.5L Ecoboost, which is turbocharged 4 cylinder direct injected engine. Base engine pumps out 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. Top trim gas version comes with 2.0L Ecoboost engine, which is also turbocharged, produces 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque with premium fuel. Gas versions come with 8-speed automatic transmission.

Electrified versions of Escape come with naturally aspirated engines. There is no AWD option for Plug-in Hybrid. Both come with Electronic-Continuous Variable Transmission. Both engines have high compression ratio for higher torque curve, and surprisingly they have multi-port injection which means no maintenance like direct injection.

Escape’s AWD system is pretty sophisticated, it sends power whenever front wheels lose traction and the operation is smooth. However, at the end of the day, it is a front-biased all wheel drive system which is focused on fuel economy, rather than the driving pleasure.

Our tester (2.0 Ecoboost) comsumed around 10.0L / 100 km, which is slightly lower than average. However, there are not many options that offer 250 hp in this market, so it is justifiable. Just don’t expect to get the best fuel economy if you are not easy on throttle pedal.

Driving Impressions & Features

Our first impression was that Ford really took its time to develop and improve the interior design compared to the last generation. Infotainment, air conditioning and all the other buttons are placed well. They are easy to reach and they used actual buttons instead of using for most essential features, which is great for longevity.

Tablet-style infotainment screens become more and more popular. It is easier to integrate to different dashboard designs and offer better visibility for the driver and passengers.

The new Escape feels and drives more like a car rather than a truck, compared to the previous generation. The steering feels above average, but nothing spectacular. Getting in and out is easier with 2020 Escape as it is slightly lower to the ground, wider and longer. Suspension tune also feels more like a car, it is very solid and there is not much body roll. Based on our test drives with several Ford vehicles, the blue-oval brand is really good at suspension tuning, slightly on the stiffer side but not sacrificing comfort at the same time. Overall, 2020 Escape has a great equilibrium of stiffness and comfort like the other models.

Compared to 2019, 2.0L Ecoboost engine used in 2020 Escape is not really different, as it has same torque characteristics and high torque in the mid range, the transmission is tuned for road comfort rather than performance. It is not responding well if you use paddle shifters, it shifts late and it feels it doesn’t like manual input. At the end of the day, it is a utility vehicle and it is meant to be driven easy, so we are not blaming Ford for tuning the engine and transmission for comfort.

However, we have to criticize Ford for not letting its drivers to fully disable the traction and stability control. We are aware this is a safety feature, but it is not helping if you are trying to take the Escape off-road. Though it comes with multiple different driving modes, that includes snow, mud and sand mode, it is not letting the driver to fully control as it tries to cut the power in loose surface, no matter what you do or which mode you are in.

In our 2019 Escape test, which you can find here,, we seriously criticized Ford for trying to implement half baked technologies on older platforms, which included the previous generation Escape. Adaptive cruise was one of them, as it was unable to fully stop and start and overall operation was not the smoothest. Finally, Ford offers full-range adaptive cruise control system in 2020 Escape and it works really well.

Pricing & Conclusion

2020 Ford Escape starts at $28,549 CAD and it can go all the way up to $45,000 CAD range, it depends what you need to be honest. Interestingly, Hybrid version top trim is significantly cheaper than gas version, so that would actually be a great buy considering it will be much cheaper to operate the hybrid version in the long term.

Our tester unit was the “Titanium” top trim with gas engine, which costs $40,049 CAD and it comes with all the features available in Escape. The only option for Titanium Package is the Titanium Premium Package, which offers Head-Up Display as well as Panoramic Sunroof that adds up $2,300 CAD.

To sum it up, Ford spent significant time and engineering effort for the 2020 Escape. Though this is our subjective opinion, it looks like a raised Ford Focus, which is not necessarily a bad thing. All manufacturers are trying to market SUVs for more mainstream users, and making SUVs look more civilized inside and outside, they are trying to get more market share. 2020 Escape is just one of them.

Adding Hybrid and PHEV versions also show that Ford is serious about being leader in this class, as it is getting more competitive, which only time will tell. Compared to the previous generation, I think Ford did a great job, but it is too early to say this if the new Escape is the best in its class.

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Article & Photos by Dan Gunay and Varol McKars.

2019 BMW X2 35i xDrive

BMW’s smallest SAC at the King’s Circle of U of T

On The Road In Toronto And To Ottawa

This article is more about the road then the auto itself.

However, let’s start with the second one:

BMW can be proud of inventing a body-style, which looked somewhat illogical, yet became so popular.

In 2008, The Bavarian company introduced the X6, a vehicle that combines the features of an SUV in a room-inefficient coupe style with a sloping roof costing valuable cargo space. BMW named anf marketed this model as SAC, sports activity coupe. By then, a famous auto journalist defined the X6 even as “a vehicle which doesn’t make sense.”

however, as more and more X6’s hit the roads, People got used and loved this “contradiction”. And many other brands, from Mercedes to Audi and Acura adopted this body style and successfully in most cases.

Endorsed by its sales success, BMW was not hesitant to carry this interpretation of SUV to other members of its model family thus creating X4 the coupe version of X3 and X2, the coupe version of X1.

In addition to our previous review of BMW X1 28i xDrive I was able to quickly review the X2, a “the sportier cousin”.
Thanks to the opportunity BMW Canada provided, I drove with the X2 (2019 model year) from Toronto to Ottawa and back on the same day. The big difference the X2’s more powerful, 2.0L, 4-cylinder, twin-turbo engine with 302 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque.

A smoother, more torquer engine and easier acceleration and passing on the highway are the rewards.

The base price of this model was $49,200, and our well-equipped tester with all bells and whistles had a MSRP of 56,650.

With this vehicle I spent an active and exciting week.

In Toronto With Sinan Meydan, Turkish Historian and Columnist

Visiting the historic main campus of the U of T with our guests from Turkey

Mr. Sinan Meydan, a famous and much respected historian and columnist from Turkey and his wife were the guests of the Ankara Library of Toronto (ALT), a cultural organization that promotes Turkish language and literature. After he met the Canadan Turkish community in Toronto at a talk show, he had only one full day to discover the city. As the President of the ALT and also as a tour guide, it was appropriate to lead him and his wife for a Toronto tour. And this BMW X2 was the host vehicle.

Enjoying tea after beer at Mill Street Brewery
The Historic Distillery District is a must-see during a Toronto tour

The compact size and the responsive steering were only two of several features the X2 offers to navigate Toronto relatively easy on a business day and in rush hours. Following a panoramic view of the Toronto Skyline from Koval’s’kyj Park at the end of Polson Street, we had a longer break at the Historic Distillery District. We walked on the cobblestone streets and tried some ales and enjoyed Montreal smoked meat and poutine at the Millstreet Brewery. BMW showed its fine-tuned, high-quality suspension as we navigated the streets with countless potholes at and near the St. Lawrence Area. After a short stop at the Nathan Phillips Square, we found ourselves at the King’s Circle to discover the Architecture and history of one of the most respected educational institutes on the planet: University of Toronto.

The Author finds his book in a distant, overseas country

Our next stop was the Reference Library, where Mr. Meydan was proud to find some of his books in the Turkish Section.

The finale was the recording of the interview for Turkuaz, an ethnic TV station broadcasting for the Canadian Turkish community.

On The Way To The Nation’s Capital

The Big Apple is a perfect stopover on the way from Toronto to Ottawa. Fresh and delicious food for dine-in and takeout
Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa

On Thursday of the same week, I hit the road to Ottawa to attend the Memorial Concert Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Ausschwitz Concentration Camp at the Embassy of the Russian Federation. Thanks to Anatoly, my dear friend I had received and invitation from Alexandr Darchiev, his Excellency the Ambassador of the Russian Federation.

With Alexandr Darchiev, his Excellency, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Ottawa and Anatoly, my dear friend

With Viktoriya Yudina as the singer, Mikhail Kuznetsov the pianist and Roufat Amiraliev the violinist, this was a great performance and a memorable concert.

With Viktoriya Yudina, the singer and Mikhail Kuznetsov,the pianist

Many people cried as Roufat played “Schindler’s List” as the opening piece of the concert.

With Roufat Amiraliev, the violinist

At the reception after the concert, guests became very emotional as a group of Holocaust survivors sang with the Ambassador. Remember that nobody knows if thse senior people would be here next year.

Mr. Ambassador dining and singing holocaust survivors

Returning to Ottawa after the reception, I was lucky enough to have Mr. Alexandr Levkovich, the famous composer as my travel companion. Time passed by so quickly as we conversed about different topics from music to international politics and economy.

The X2 delivered good fuel economy with 8,2 liters on the average

The smooth ride in the well isolated cabin of the X2 helped. The avwerage consumption after 959 kilometers of return dirve was 8.2 liters. An impressive figure for a 2.0L, twin-turbo engine.

More more detailed and most up-to-date information, please visit

Article and Photos by Varol McKars