The 2015 Ford Escape is offered in S, SE and Titanium trims, with three different engines and with most models offered with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Base S models are only offered with front-wheel drive, and they come with a 168-horsepower, 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. The SE offers a 178-horsepower, 1.6L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine. SE and Titanium models offer a 2.0L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that makes a V6-like output of 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.
Both EcoBoost 4-cylinder engines have direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing, (Ti-VCT), which helps produce more power while also being more fuel-efficient. EPA ratings range up to 23 mpg city, 33 highway with the 1.6L and 22/30 with the 2.0L. An active grille shutter system also helps fuel economy by improving aerodynamics when extra cooling isn't needed.
All models come with a SelectShift 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, and several technologies help the Escape not only tackle slick road conditions but also corner better. Curve Control and Torque Vectoring Control help improve stability, while the new "Intelligent" 4-wheel drive system in 4WD models uses sensor inputs to actively act to maintain stability, utilizing an electromagnetic clutch system to send power to the wheels where traction is needed most.
Although off-roading isn't how most Escape buyers will use the SUV, it can handle gravel roads and modest forest trails just fine; and when properly equipped, it can tow up to 3,500 pounds. On all models, 4-wheel disc brakes provide strong stopping power, while an electric rack-and-pinion steering system is precise and well-weighted.
The Escape's rakish design doesn't get in the way of interior space either. The model has supportive bucket seats in front with a good view out, as well as space for three across in back. There's a generous 34.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the back seat--thanks to a low, 2-position cargo floor--and that can be expanded to 68.1 cubic feet by flipping forward the second row seatbacks.
Escape S models come with a generous list of features for a base model, including air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, remote keyless entry, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, MyKey, a 6-speaker audio system and a rearview camera system. The SE model adds upgraded exterior trim, a center console with arm rest, dual chrome exhaust, a keyless entry keypad, Sirius Satellite Radio compatibility, fog lamps, upgraded upholstery, a 10-way driver's seat, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Then on the top-of-the-line Titanium comes with remote start, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, silver roof rails, a 10-speaker Sony stereo, MyFord Touch, a media hub with SD card reader and video inputs, a garage-door opener, 18-inch alloys, rear parking sensors and heated side mirrors.
The available MyFord Touch is a touch-screen-based system for connectivity and infotainment that allows the pairing of a smartphone or media player for phone calls, music, navigation and vehicle settings all through the touch screen, steering wheel controls or voice commands.
An active park assist system will 'see' a parallel parking space and actually steer the vehicle into the spot while the driver modulates the accelerator and brake. The BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert prevents accidents by helping the driver spot other unseen vehicles. An available hands-free tailgate system only requires that the drive 'kick' their foot under the rear bumper.
Remember the scene in Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams is going back and forth between two restaurant tables, changing clothes with each dash to and fro? That's what I imagine trying to build a mass-market crossover in a hot segment is like -- just a constant blitz in order to try and please every party in sight. With 20,000 to 30,000 Escapes leaving dealerships every month, Ford needs to make sure its crossover can be everything to everyone.
In that vein, the 2020 Ford Escape is very much a utilitarian product, attempting to appeal to as wide a swath of the buying public as possible. And, in my opinion, it's succeeding more in its latest iteration than ever before.
Everything might be turning into an SUV, but Ford's latest ute is more carlike than ever before. Now that the Focus is but a glimmer of nostalgia in the automaker's eye, there's space to bring the Escape a little closer to earth and better embody the original idea of what a crossover was supposed to be.
The Good The 2020 Ford Escape is comfortable, efficient and pretty well stocked with new tech.
The Bad The inline-3 engine is coarse, rear cargo capacity is a little low and there's no rear-seat USB.
The Bottom Line The new Escape has just about everything its segment is looking for.
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