2017 Ford Escape range review

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

One of the Australian car market’s great mysteries is why Ford Australia has been so bad at convincing people to buy its Escape mid-sized SUV. Or, for that matter, its Kuga predecessor.

Despite being a relatively well-rounded offering, Ford’s market share at the time of writing was/is  just three per cent, miles behind the Mazda CX-5 (15.9 per cent share), Hyundai Tucson (15.2), Toyota RAV4 (13.1), Nissan X-Trail (11.9), Mitsubishi Outlander (9.8), Kia Sportage (8.8), Subaru Forester (8.1) and Volkswagen Tiguan (6.2).

All the more reason to give the Escape a good moment in the spotlight, as we conduct our latest range review. This mission, as ever, is to inform you which variant best suits your needs, provided you’ve settled on the Escape as the SUV for you.

You may recall we previously did range reviews on the CX-5 (read here) and new Honda CR-V (read here), both rivals to the Ford.

The Escape range comes in three specification levels called Ambiente, Trend and Titanium. There are also two petrol engines in three states of tune, and a diesel. Additionally, you can opt for front-wheel (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Pricing varies from $28,490 to $47,490 before on-road costs.

Here we’ve broken down the range as efficiently as possible, leaving us with three cars: an Ambiente FWD 1.5 petrol with automatic priced at $29,990, a Trend AWD 2.0 petrol with auto priced at $35,990, and a Titanium AWD with 2.0 diesel and auto priced at $47,490.

Ford Escape Ambiente

  • 1.5 petrol FWD manual – $28,490
  • 1.5 petrol FWD auto – $29,990 – tested here
  • 1.5 petrol AWD auto – $32,990

Four key features:

  • 8.0-inch touchscreen 
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Rear-view camera
  • Satellite navigation 

The fact the Ambiente has such a big screen with Sync 3 – Ford’s infotainment system – bringing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation and digital radio at this price point is outstanding.

Other features on the base Escape include seven airbags, a five-star ANCAP rating, rear parking sensors, cruise control with a speed limiter and Ford’s Emergency Assist system that dials 000 in an emergency and sends your GPS location.

There are are also halogen headlights and DRLs, cloth seats, rear air vents, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, a leather steering wheel, two USB ports and an expensive-feeling leather steering wheel. Plenty.

The only hint that you’re actually in a sub-$30k ‘stripper’ is the steel wheels with old school plastic hubcaps, on good quality Michelin tyres. Of course, if you’re prone to scuffing wheels on kerbs, this might just be a bonus!

Engine-wise, the Ambiente comes with one engine choice – a 1.5-litre EcoBoost turbo-petrol four-cylinder – in two disparate states of tune.

The base, base $28,490 model gets a six-speed manual gearbox and comes in FWD only. Its engine makes a modest 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 240Nm of torque between 1600 and 5000rpm. Fuel use is 6.4L/100km.

The version we’re testing here has a six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission with paddle-shifters with 134kW of power and the same 240Nm of torque, though there’s a fuel use penalty of 0.9L/100km despite the stop/start system. Note that both petrol engines available – the 1.5 and the Trend’s larger 2.0 – require 95 RON premium petrol.

Like all Escapes, this one has unusually direct and responsive steering, good chassis balance and body control, and thanks to those chubby tyres, excellent ride quality. Top percentile stuff.

You can also nab the Ambiente with on-demand AWD. The system defaults to the front wheels but sensors order torque delivery be adjusted to each wheel dependent on surface grip every 16 milliseconds. Apparently.

Many buyers will be fine with FWD given the plethora of modern safety aids like traction control and stability control, though those who regularly go over gravel tracks, to the snow, or drive on icy roads, may like the all-paw sure-footedness.

We got our tester briefly bogged on a slippery, wet grass, hill!

The 134kW engine is absolutely fine for the class, and in fact it’s actually quite good compared to some bargain basement rivals (though the new CR-V has 140kW). It’s a little raucous down low in the rev band, but there’s ample mid-range pull and an intuitive enough 6AT.

The rear seats of all Escapes are pretty good, with air vents, damped grab handles and acceptable legroom/shoulder-room/headroom for two adults – though we’d love a little more seat adjustment.

There are no levers to flip the back seats from the cargo area as offered in many rivals, and the 406 litres of cargo space with the back seat in use is well below the class leaders from Honda and Volkswagen. But there’s still plenty of room for a few cases and/or a pram.

Ford Escape Trend

  • 1.5 petrol FWD auto – $32,990
  • 2.0 petrol AWD auto – $35,990 – tested here
  • 2.0 diesel AWD auto – $38,490

Four key additional features over Ambiente:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels 
  • Roof rails
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • $1300 Tech Pack

You’ll barely notice any differences in the Escape Trend’s cabin if you’ve stepped up from the Ambiente, with the same grey-and-black cloth seats, plus interchangeable instruments and fascia.

It looms sharper from outside though, with nice 18-inch alloy wheels shod in fine Continental tyres on our test car, plus chrome highlights peppered around, and roof rails.

You also get tinted privacy glass rearward of the B-pillar), auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather gear shifter and a proximity key.

For $1200 you can get an electric tailgate with hands-free operation, alongside a proximity key allowing you to enter the cabin without touching your key fob. Both of these features are standard on the Titanium.

But the superior options pack costs $1300. It gives you autonomous emergency braking that works below 50km/h, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high-beam, a driver monitor, tyre-pressure monitor and auto-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps.

We criticised the new Honda CR-V for not offering any active safety tech as standard at mid-level, given the new CX-5 and Tiguan get various modern features of this type. So it’s only fair we do the same here. The Escape’s pack is affordable, but Ford still makes you pay for maximum safety…

Engines available are the aforementioned 1.5-litre turbo-petrol matched to the 6AT in FWD, priced at $32,990 just like a lower-specified, but AWD, Ambiente. The choice there is yours.

More interesting is the drivetrain fitted to our test car, which commands a $3000 premium. It’s a 2.0-litre turbo with a class-topping 178kW of power and 345Nm of torque (from 2000rpm), with AWD and a standard six-speed auto.

This power beats out hot SUV rivals such as the 162kW Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI and 177kW Subaru Forester XT, though its porky 1700kg-plus kerb weight takes the edge off any hot hatch performance. Expect a 0-100km/h time in the mid-7s still.

The trade-off is fuel economy, listed as 8.6L/100km but easy to slip above 10L/100km under hard driving. That’s not good for the weekly fuel bills.

Yet at $35,990, this version looks to be a bit of a steal nevertheless. There’s no medium SUV that can match the Escape in terms of bang-for-buck. That right there is this car’s true unique selling point.

For another $2500 you can get a Trend AWD with diesel power – a 2.0-litre turbo with 132kW and a potent 400Nm of torque between 2000 and 2500rpm, with reduced fuel use claimed at 5.5L/100km.

Instead of the 6AT fitted  to the petrols, the diesel unit gets the brand’s controversial Powershift dual-clutch auto which had a run of issues in the Focus when matched to different engines. Still, we experienced no issues and Ford says all problems know have been rectified.

As far as DCTs go, the Escape’s unit is pretty refined and decisive even in urban driving, while the engine is fairly quiet and rattle-free once it’s warm, and has the familiar muscularity through the mid-range. Ideal for towing.

Ford Escape Titanium

  • 2.0 petrol AWD auto – $44,990
  • 2.0 diesel AWD auto – $47,490 – tested here

Four key additional features over Trend:

  • Leather seats
  • Bi-xenon HID headlights
  • Panoramic sunroof 
  • Electric hands-free tailgate

The range-topper gets a plethora of extra features beyond the four listed above such as 19-inch wheels on Continental tyres, adaptive dynamic cornering headlight beams, LED daytime running lights, auto-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps, 10-way power adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, and a proximity key.

There’s also an upgraded Sony audio system with nine speakers, plus ambient LED cabin lighting in both rows, folding tray tables like on a plane for rear-seat occupants, and ‘premium’ floor mats. Heh.

However, Ford still makes you shell out $1300 for the Technology Pack with the aforementioned active safety features from the Trend. Hmmm.

Another downside is the fact the extra weight on board, and the 19-inch wheels on thinner rubber, mean this version feels a little less tied-down through corners, and feels more unsettled over sharp hits, than the other pair.

From a drivetrain perspective you get the 178kW petrol and 132kW diesel engines as discussed above. Our tester had the diesel, though for urban buyers you’d be better off saving $2500 and going petrol.

It’s quite a rattly unit from the outside but there’s ample insulation in the firewall to shelter cabin occupants. The 2.0 engine is strong, with 132kW of power at 3500rpm and a beefy 400Nm of torque from 2000-2500rpm.

In regular daily driving the Powershift dual-clutch gearbox actually operates well, especially if you modulate your pedal application. It’ll even do a little throttle blip as you’re braking to a standstill. That said, because of where the engine hits peak torque, there can be a bit of low-speed lag from a standstill.

When you reach the 2000rpm zone, acceleration is strong when applying mid-strength throttle. If you push the throttle too hard it will rev out and feel a bit asthmatic, whereas if you’re too light on the throttle the gearbox will default to the highest gear possible, to keep the revs as low as possible – and all in the name of fuel conservation. The claim is 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

Ownership costs

Ford Australia provides a pretty mediocre three-year/100,000km warranty on its new vehicles as standard, however Ford does give you free roadside assist with your State’s motoring club over the first seven years/105,000km – provided you service your Escape at a Ford dealer.

No car maker wants you going to an independent repairer, because dealers make basically no money selling mainstream volume cars, and most of their profit from servicing. To sweeten the deal Ford also gives you a free loan car from its demonstrator fleet, if you ask.

The service intervals on all three engines are 12 months or 15,000km. The 1.5 petrol costs $330, $355 and $355 at each of the first three visits, the 2.0 petrol costs $375, $375 and $375, while the diesel costs $405, $405 and $405 (and more than $800 on the fourth visit).

These prices can be scaled up with CPI and other factors at the car brands’ discretion.

VERDICT

The Titanium has a ton of great features, in particular the leather seats, sunroof and folding tray tables. But it’s a little less comfortable around town thanks to the lower-profile tyres, and there’s not a lot of extra real substance for the price hike.

You could build a genuinely strong case for the sub-$30k Ambiente auto with FWD as tested. It’s a little ripper of a car, with only middling cargo space, but upper-percentile driving dynamics and infotainment. The ability to option the base spec level with AWD for the same price as a FWD Trend also leaves one with an interesting quandary.

Yet as ever, it seems the middle ground s the safest. We’d like the Trend’s cabin to offer a little more razzle dazzle sure – even some nicer plastics or something – but it has class-leading engine outputs, ample specification and a pretty friendly price tag even with the bigger petrol engine as tested.

We know how hard it is to narrow down your choice in the medium SUV space, but Ford deserves to pinch a few more sales than it does. And the car with the most unique selling points is the Escape Trend AWD petrol.


Ambiente FWD

Trend AWD

Titanium 

Price

$29,990

$35,990

$47,490

Drive

FWD

AWD

AWD

Engine

1.5 turbo

2.0 turbo

2.0 turbo

Fuel

Petrol

Petrol

Diesel

Power

134kW @ 6000rpm

178kW @ 5500rpm

132kW @ 3500rpm

Torque

240Nm @ 1600-5000rpm

345Nm @ 2000-4500rpm

400Nm @ 2000-2500rpm

Fuel use

7.2L/100km

8.6L/100km

5.6L/100km

Transmission

6AT

6AT

6 DCT

Wheels

17” steel

18” alloy

19” alloy

Tyres

235/55 R17

235/50 R18

235/45 R19

Spare

Space-saver

Space-saver

Space-saver

Front suspension

Strut

Strut

Strut

Rear suspension

IRS

IRS

IRS

Steering

EPAS

EPAS

EPAS

Towing

1500kg

1600kg

1800kg

Length

4524mm

4524mm

4524mm

Width

1838mm

1838mm

1838mm

Height

1689mm

1749mm

1749mm

Wheelbase

2690mm

2690mm

2690mm

Cargo

406-1603L

406-1603L

406-1603L

Kerb weight

1590kg

1719kg

1779kg

GVM

2100kg

2250kg

2230kg

ANCAP

5

5

5

Rear-view camera

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sensors

Rear

Rear

Front/rear

Airbags

7

7

7

Cruise control

Yes

Yes

Yes

Speed limiter

Yes

Yes

Yes

SYNC Emergency Assistance

Yes

Yes

Yes

Park Assist

No

No

Yes

ISOFIX

Yes

Yes

Yes

Seats

Cloth

Cloth

Leather with heating

Steering wheel

Leather

Leather

Leather

Climate control

Dual-zone

Dual-zone

Dual-zone

Panoramic sunroof

No

No

Yes

Push-button start

Yes

Yes

Yes

Proximity key

No

Optional

Yes

Touchscreen

8.0″

8.0″

8.0″

SYNC 3

Yes

Yes

Yes

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

Yes

Yes

Yes

Satellite navigation

Yes

Yes

Yes

DAB+

Yes

Yes

Yes

USB

2

2

2

Bluetooth

Yes

Yes

Yes

12V inputs

3

3

3

Ambient LED cabin lighting

No

No

Yes

Headlights

Halogen

Halogen

Bi-xenon HID

Dusk sensors

No

No

Yes

Auto wipers

No

Yes

Yes

DRLs

Halogen

Halogen

LED

Auto-folding mirrors

No

No

Yes

Roof rails

No

Yes

Yes

Privacy glass

No

Yes

Yes

Tailgate

Manual

Manual (electric optional)

Electric

Wheels

17″ steel

18″ alloy

19″ alloy

Optional Tech Pack

No

$1300

  • AEB
  • Radar Cruise
  • BLIS
  • RCTA
  • Lane assist
  • Auto high beam
  • Tyre monitor
  • Driver monitor
  • Puddle lamps
  • Auto-fold mirrors
$1300

  • AEB
  • Radar Cruise
  • BLIS
  • RCTA
  • Lane assist
  • Auto high beam
  • Tyre monitor
  • Driver monitor

Optional Tailgate Pack

No

$1200

  • Electric tailgate
  • Proximity key

Standard

Metallic paint

$550

$550

$500

Made in

Spain

Spain

Spain

(caradvice.com.au, https://goo.gl/Cm6MLQ)

Comments

comments

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn