LOS ANGELES -- Ford's Escape is big business, its best-selling model behind the F-150, selling over 300,000 units in 2014. Thus, Ford's putting a great deal of effort into revising this small SUV, and the result is a new car filled with improvements and new technology.
An aesthetic freshening brings the 2017 Escape in line with the brand's other models, giving it a hexagonal grille incorporating active shutters for improved fuel economy. Sleeker headlight casings feature high-intensity discharge (HID) lights on the range-topping Titanium trim. All models receive LED taillights, and buyers will have three new colors from which to choose -- Lightning Blue, Canyon Ridge and White Gold.
Ford spokesperson Mark Schirmer said the interior was redesigned to "make more room for owner's stuff", such as losing the manual brake lever in favor of an electronic parking brake, creating more room on the console, with a slot specifically designed for smartphones. A new steering wheel incorporates improved switchgear, and the Escape's formerly quirky vent layout has been revised.
The automaker also spent a great deal of effort improving the Escape's road-noise mitigation. A full hood seal and front wheel-well insulation help cut down on road noise, as do the insulated A-pillars and a revised windshield seal. Acoustic side glass also helps keep the cabin quieter than before. Larger rear dampers and new linear springs, replacing the outgoing model's progressive springs, should cut down on ride choppiness and give it a more car-like feel.
The base model's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine remains, but Ford is introducing two new engines for the Escape's SE and Platinum trim levels. A 1.5-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine should improve the vehicle's fuel economy, and an optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost unit will add a bit more power to the equation. Start-stop technology is standard on both EcoBoost variants for additional mileage benefits.
There's plenty of new technology for the 2017 Escape. Ford adds a bevy of optional active safety technology into its smallest crossover, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning. Holdover technology from the previous-generation Escape includes a hands-free liftgate, blind-spot monitoring and an active parking assistant that now benefits from side-mounted parking sensors.
These driver assist technologies, already proven on the Ford Fusion, will give the Escape an edge in this highly competitive segment.
Ford'salso comes along for the ride, after launching this year on the . Combined with an all-new embedded modem and the , buyers can access information about various systems within the 2017 Escape without being near the vehicle. Sync 3 is standard on Titanium Escapes and optional on SE models with the Technology Package.
The 2017 Escape will come in three trim levels -- S, SE and Titanium. The SE adds the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine, along with creature comforts like a power driver's seat, satellite radio and alloy wheels. Titanium ramps up the luxury with a whole host of leather interior appointments, automatic power windows and Sync 3's touchscreen infotainment system. The Titanium is the only trim level to feature Ford's newest safety systems, and buyers must choose the Technology Package to get it all.
Pricing and release information is not yet available.
Editors' note: This article has been updated to include new information and photos of the 2017 Ford Escape.