2014 Ford Escape Titanium 4WDPosted on December 13th, 2013
Compact crossover packs a big punch
By Nina Russin
Although the 2014 Ford Escape Titanium is one of the pricier compact crossovers on the market, its high level of safety, comfort and infotainment features makes it a great value. Clever technology such as the hands-free liftgate, active park assist and MyKey that allows parents to control speed and audio volume when their children have the car sets the Escape apart from the ever-expanding sea of competitors.
This year, buyers can combine the hands-free liftgate and towing prep package features, enabling the Escape to tow up to 3500 pounds. Engineers used video game technology in designing the liftgate that opens when the driver makes a kicking motion under the back bumper.
Active park assist performs parallel parking maneuvers automatically: a boon for drivers living in congested urban areas.
Pricing for the upscale Titanium model with four-wheel drive begins at $30,850, excluding the $895 destination charge. Options on the test car include blind spot monitoring, high intensity discharge headlamps, , 19-inch alloy wheels, navigation and the two-liter EcoBoost engine, bringing the final MSRP to $36,085.
Versatility for active lifestyles
Despite its compact dimensions, the Escape’s versatile interior meets the needs of drivers who regularly haul bicycles, kayaks and other large cargo. Second-row seats fold flat using levers to the side of the seat cushions, creating a bicycle-friendly cargo floor. A rubber mat would be easier to clean than the carpeted cargo floor, but that’s a relatively easy fix.
A cargo light enables athletes to load up their gear after dark. There is storage space for smaller items under the cargo floor, where items are invisible to prying eyes.
Owners who go camping on the weekend will also appreciate the 110-volt outlet behind the center console, enabling them to plug in games or a computer. There are plenty of 12-volt power points as well. Smart phone owners can access a limited number of apps through the car’s head unit, so they can stay connected away from home.
Because the Escape has virtually no floor tunnel, three adults can fit in back. All passengers have access to cup and bottle holders large enough for the 20-ouncers endurance athletes use.
Power for the open road
This week, I drove the Escape on highways and surface streets in Chandler, Arizona as well as a section of rural road through the Gila River Reservation south of town. Although the two-liter engine’s fuel economy doesn’t quite match the standard 1.6-liter block, the additional power is ideal for buyers who plan to use their cars for road trips.
The engine’s 270 foot-pounds of peak torque is available from 3000 rpm, so the driver doesn’t have to dip too far into the throttle when accelerating off the line or merging into high-speed traffic. Peak horsepower is 240: plenty for passing slower vehicles on two-lane rural roads.
The six-speed automatic transmission seems well mated to the engine, progressing smoothly through the gears. There is no noticeable shift shock under normal driving conditions. Drivers can select gears manually for more aggressive performance.
Steering feedback from the rack-and-pinion electric power assist system is excellent, with precise on-center response and plenty on the low end for maneuverability. The four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts in front and Ford’s rear ControlBlade multilink setup. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Escape in firm, linear fashion and give the crossover better wet weather performance.
The Escape has a narrow greenhouse and large pillars that impact over-the-shoulder visibility and create rather large blind spots in the back corners. The standard rearview camera eliminates the blind spots in the back corners and beneath the rear glass when the driver shifts into reverse.
I would also recommend the optional blind spot monitoring system that is part of the technology package. LED signals in the side mirrors illuminate when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. The option is expensive at $1735, but it also includes the active park assist feature that should save owners in crowded urban areas a lot of aggravation.
One of the most impressive aspects of the car’s high-speed performance is the lack of engine and tire noise. The Escape is significantly quieter than most of its competitors. There is some wind noise around the side mirrors due to the car’s high profile and two-box architecture. But it is not significant enough to interfere with conversations inside the car or the audio system.
Focus on connectivity
Writers seem to blow hot and cold about MyFord Touch: the connectivity system inside the OEM’s late-model vehicles. On the whole, I find it user friendly.
The center stack screen enables the driver to access a vehicle health report, audio controls, navigation, traffic and weather alerts, apps, a calendar, the clock and emergency services: all within a click or two. The screen tended to wash out in the bright Phoenix sunlight. A hood over it would fix the problem.
There is also a small digital display in the gauge cluster. Redundant steering wheel controls allow the driver to use the Bluetooth interface, adjust audio controls and access information with minimal distraction.
The Escape has a plethora of 12-volt outlets and a USB port so owners can recharge electronic devices on the go and plug in a media stick.
Keyless entry and start enables the driver to enter the car and fire the ignition without removing the key fob from his pocket. He can also start the car remotely to warm up the interior on cold mornings.
I found the power driver’s seat adjustments easy to operate. The seats are comfortable and provide ample lumbar support for longer road trips.
The Ford Escape comes with front, side, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring and SOS post crash alert.
Ford builds the Escape at its Louisville, Kentucky assembly plant
Like: A versatile compact crossover that is bicycle friendly and when properly equipped meets our ALV towing standard. The hands-free liftgate is ideal for athletes loading bicycles and other large cargo in back.
Dislike: Narrow greenhouse and large pillars limit over-the-shoulder visibility and create large blind spots in the back corners.
Model: Escape Titanium 4WD
Base price: $30,850
As tested: $36,085
Horsepower: 240 Hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 270 lbs.-ft. @ 3000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 21/28 mpg city/highway2014, Best Value 2014, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Ford, performance, pricing, standard safety
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