Ford Escape is practical and comfortable with a classy cabin and plenty of cargo space. It rides smoothly and has excellent handling. Several drivetrains are available, and buyers should choose carefully because that choice greatly affects the driving character.
Escape comes standard with front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive optional. Escape was redesigned for the 2013 model year and there have been no major changes since.
The 2015 Escape comes in three models: S, SE, and Titanium. Three engines are available, each four-cylinder. Least expensive is the tried-and-true 2.5-liter, but it’s also the least powerful and least efficient.
Much more modern are the EcoBoost engines, a 1.6-liter making 178 horsepower and a 2.0-liter that generates 240 horsepower. Their designs differ, but both are twin-turbocharged with direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). We recommend opting for one of them.
We found that a 1.6-liter Escape with front-wheel drive feels completely different from a 2.0-liter all-wheel-drive model. The 1.6-liter with front-wheel drive is quick, lively and visceral, a blast to drive. The 2.0-liter AWD feels solid, heavier, more civilized, more grown-up.
Fuel economy ranges from an EPA-estimated 23/32 mpg City/Highway for a 1.6-liter front-wheel-drive Escape, to 21/28 mpg for a 2.0-liter all-wheel drive.
Inside, creature comfort is impeccable, even with the standard fabric upholstery, rugged and handsome. Interior materials are soft, and the plastic high quality. Rear legroom is decent, at 36.8 inches, and rear climate control is standard in all but the Escape S base model. There’s excellent cargo space: 68.1 cubic feet behind the first row and 34.3 cubic feet behind the second row, and the standard 60/40 rear seat folds flat wonderfully fast, using one lever.
An available magic release for the liftgate is handy when your arms are full and you have cargo to load. Kick your foot under the rear bumper, and presto, the liftgate pops open so you can drop your things into the back without having to set them down and fumble for your remote.
The top-level Escape is available with Active Park Assist. By simply pushing a button, the system detects an available parallel-parking space, then automatically steers the vehicle right into it. The driver operates only the gas and brake pedals, not touching the steering wheel during the parking procedure.