For trips short or long, crossovers have proven themselves versatile vehicles that can fit a family, all their belongings, and be a comfortable cruiser from point A to point B. A great example is the Ford Escape — blue oval’s second best-selling vehicle behind the venerable F-series pickup — which has been refreshed for 2017 and selected for a summer road trip that carried us between the cool coastline of California and the oven-bake heat of the Golden State’s deserts.
New for 2017
For the 2017 model year, the Ford Escape receives some significant updates that refresh the current generation compact crossover. In addition to the redesigned hood and raised trapezoidal grille, the most significant changes for this model year are the two new turbocharged engines available in the SE and Titanium trims.
Turbocharged engines are the popular trend because they offer substantial power with acceptable fuel economy. Plus, their peppy torque numbers provide the gusto for snappy acceleration when called upon. Standard for the SE and Titanium models is a 179 horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder engine that replaces the former 1.6-liter turbo. Deftly quiet and smooth, the 1.5 accelerates to freeway speeds with acceptable expectations — even when filled with passengers and cargo.
Those with higher expectations can opt for the heavily revised 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque turbocharged four-cylinder. The new output for this year is up from 240 hp and 270 lb-ft compared to prior model years. EPA estimates check in at 25 mpg overall for the FWD model and 23 mpg for the 4-wheel drive configuration. Both turbocharged engines get an auto stop-start feature that assists with fuel savings.
Interior upgrades with the 2017 Escape are numerous and thoughtful. The new push-button parking brake frees up some space for the redesigned center console. Now the center console has a larger center armrest and more storage space underneath. The bigger storage bin enables easy access to a lighted USB port and a 12-volt power outlet inside.
Improved cup holders and a repositioned gear shifter moved rearward improved access to the climate controls on the center stack. Directly below the HVAC controls is a media bin with a convenient USB port and covered power outlet.
A new swing-bin glove box provides easier access to stored items. The enhancements may seem small but we quickly appreciated the improved ergonomics. After spending hours on the road, we came to appreciate the small things that Ford addressed in the Escape’s mid-cycle refresh.
An all-new leather-wrapped steering wheel includes easy-to-work buttons for audio and climate controls. We liked how the grip felt natural and comfortable in our hands.
Introduced with this year’ model is available SYNC3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Smartphone users can download Sync Connect app that lets you unlock and start your car with your smartphone.
For 2017, there are new available advanced safety and driver-assist features that include adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, enhanced active park assist, lane-keeping system, and a driver-alert system, which uses data from the lane-keeping system to detect signs of fatigued driving.
Our Escape was outfitted with the available Sport Appearance package, which included 19-inch Ebony Black painted aluminum wheels, gloss black painted upper grille and side vents, and black headlamp and taillamp bezels.
Our road trip vehicle was equipped with the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine that is rated at 179 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. Power to the front wheels passes through a 6-speed transmission. The auto stop-start feature, standard with the turbocharged engines, isn’t as obtrusive or noticeable as other automaker’s implementation. It was good enough such that we didn’t bother to disable the feature during our time with the updated crossover.
The turbocharged inline-4 gets the job done with only a couple issues. Passing requires a little pre-planning and expectations for fuel economy were higher given the amount of highway miles that were traveled. After an easy 1200 mile trip up and down California, the crafty crossover averaged 26 mpg overall.
On the road, the Escape delivers a smooth ride and is relatively quiet inside the cabin. Even with the 19-inch wheels, the suspension dampened the worst pavement surfaces and delivered a comfortable ride. Steering and handling felt closer to that of a car than a compact crossover.
Two things that were missed: available adaptive cruise control and ventilated seats. Our coach wasn’t equipped with the cruise control option. Driving around in 100-degree summer heat, the option of cooling our bottoms on long drives, especially in 100-degree weather, would have made our trip a little more comfortable.
|2017 Ford Escape SE FWD Specs|
|Price as tested||$29,975|
|Engine||1.5L EcoBoost DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled|
|Power (hp)||179 @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque (lb-ft)||177 @ 2,500 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode|
|EPA-estimated fuel economy mpg||23/30/26 mpg (city/hwy/combined)|
|Curb weight||3,526 lbs.|
|Ground clearance||7.8 inches|
|Max cargo volume||68 cu. ft.|
|Cargo volume behind 3rd row||34 cu ft / 68 cu. ft.|
|Destination + handling charge||$895|
In this TFLcar First Drive review, Roman gets behind the wheel of the 2017 Ford Escape and takes it for a drive to see what else is new.