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  • 2017 Ford Escape FWD

    Posted on May 22nd, 2017 ninarussin

    Compact crossover features enhanced safety, better MPG

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Ford Escape

    2017 Ford Escape

    The Escape was one of the first compact crossovers when it hit the US market in 2001, and remains a staple of the segment. For 2017, Ford has refreshed the Escape with new active safety features and improved fuel economy with automatic shut-off at idle.

    Pricing for the front-wheel drive SE grade starts at $25,100 excluding the $895 destination charge. Options on the test car include a technology packages that includes the newest version of Sync, reverse sensing, roof rack side rails and Sync Connect; a two-liter EcoBoost engine; power liftgate; voice-activated touchscreen navigation system; 18-inch alloy rims, and a comfort package including heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and power side mirrors with blind spot monitoring. Final MSRP is $33,660.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2017 Ford Escape

    2017 Ford Escape

    This week I drove the Escape through Phoenix, Arizona’s downtown area and east valley, as well as sections of the Gila River Indian Community south of town. Ford’s EcoBoost engines continue to make news for exceptional engineering. The two-liter block that develops 245-horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque is well worth the option’s $1,295 price tag, giving the car significantly more pep than the base 1.5-liter block. Both the block and heads are aluminum, minimizing weight gain on the car’s front end.

    The bigger engine gives the Escape a 3500-pound towing capacity when equipped with a tow prep package, meeting our ALV minimum towing standard.

    A six-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection progresses smoothly through the gears with no obvious shift shock under normal driving conditions. The stop/start function at idle is relatively-seamless as well, although drivers will notice a slight jolt when the engine fires up again. For those who don’t like it, a button on the instrument panel disengages the feature.

    2017 Ford Escape

    2017 Ford Escape

    While I applaud the idea of enhanced fuel economy, the stop start shuts off the air conditioning compressor that is driven off the engine: not a problem in mild temperatures but something that made the interior rather uncomfortable in Phoenix, Arizona’s late spring days. The fix would be an electronic compressor, but that requires more battery capacity than the car’s 12-volt system can offer.

    An electric power steering system delivers plenty of low-end assist for maneuverability. On-center response is soft, but drivers shouldn’t feel disconnected from the wheels.

    A four-wheel independent suspension features MacPherson struts up front with double lateral link semi-trailing arms in the rear. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners. Ride quality is quite good for both rows of occupants.

    2017 Ford Escape

    2017 Ford Escape

    The optional 18-inch alloy rims provide a fat footprint for enhanced high-speed performance. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Escape in firm, linear fashion.

    Visibility around the perimeter is good. A standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle when the driver shifts into reverse. Optional blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots.

    Well-equipped interior

    Ford Escape Interior

    Ford Escape Interior

    The Escape’s versatile interior is ideal for buyers with active lifestyles, offering enough room to stash a road bike inside the car with rear seats folded flat. Optional roof rack rails make it easy to add a carrier up top, although the car’s high profile might make a rear hitch more practical.

    I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust with ample lower lumbar support. Both dual-zone climate and infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position. Two USB ports enable occupants to recharge portable electronic devices on the go or plug in a music stick. Redundant steering wheel controls minimize driver distraction.

    Engineers replaced the mechanical parking brake lever on the outgoing model with an electronic brake actuated with a button, freeing up space in the center console for additional storage.

    Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior, making it easy for occupants in both rows to converse. Satellite radio is standard, but reception from the receiver in the test car was poor. It cut out constantly during the test drive, including areas free of trees and overpasses.

    Standard safety

    The Ford Escape comes with seven airbags, including Ford’s safety canopy side airbag system that prevents occupants from becoming trapped between the airbags and side glass. Standard MyKey enables parents to set audio volume and speed limits for new drivers in the family.

    Other standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction control, stability control with roll mitigation, and a secure code keypad on the B pillar that gives all occupants access to the vehicle while protecting it from theft. The keypad is unique to Ford, and a great boon to groups of runners, hikers and cyclists sharing the vehicle at the trailhead. Standard SOS post-crash alert automatically notifies police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a serious collision.

    Ford builds the Escape at its Louisville, Kentucky assembly plant.

    Like: A versatile compact crossover with excellent fuel economy thanks to its Eco-Boost engine. Features such as MyKey and the keypad entry system should put the Escape on the short list for active couples and growing families on the go.

    Dislike: Soft on-center steering response. Poor reception from satellite radio receiver.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Ford
    Model: Escape FWD
    Year: 2017
    Base price: $25,100
    As tested: $33,660
    Horsepower: 245 HP @ 5500 rpm
    Torque: 275 lbs.-ft. @ 3000 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: Yes
    Fuel economy: 22/29 MPG city/highway

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