CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
The third generation of the Ford Escape debuted in 2012 for the 2013 model year, and received a facelift last year. Changes for the 2017 model year included a bolder new exterior design, interior tweaks to improve space and usability and the addition of more technology. This year, the Escape adds an SEL trim level, while the SE trim adds a handful more features. The bottom line is that the Escape offers lots of technology and lots of style, no matter which trim level you select.
There are three engines available, all with six-speed automatic transmissions. The base option is a 2.5-liter inline-four rated for 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. It's available only with front-wheel drive and returns EPA ratings of 21 miles per gallon city and 29 mpg highway.
The other two engines are both turbocharged four-cylinders with standard stop-start tech. The 1.5-liter option delivers 179 horsepower and 177 pound-feet. With front-wheel drive it returns 23/30 mpg, while the all-wheel-drive versions is rated for 22/28 mpg. Those are good, but not segment-leading numbers; the best in the class exceed 30 mpg highway. The 2.0-liter turbo engine, meanwhile, packs a big punch with 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet -- more power than many competitors offer. Its fuel economy is predictably lower, at 21/28 mpg with front-wheel drive and 20/27 mpg with AWD.
The Escape is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Cargo room behind the second row is 34.0 cubic feet, while with the seats lowered it expands to 68.0 cubic feet. That's roomy, but not best-in-class: it falls behind the spaciousness of rivals like the Honda CR-V (39.2/75.8 cubic feet), Nissan Rogue (39.3/70.0) or the soon-to-be-replaced 2018 Toyota RAV4 (38.4/73.4).
The Escape's standard infotainment system is a simple 4.2-inch screen with Bluetooth and Ford's Sync voice-recognition system. An 8.0-inch touchscreen with Sync 3 is optional; it adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, Ford's AppLink app catalog plus optional navigation. There's also a Sync Connect system that, when paired with the FordPass smartphone app, lets drivers lock, unlock and start their Escape remotely.
In terms of active safety pre-collision warning and braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic monitoring are all available -- but as options on higher trim levels. The Escape also has a self-park system that can even steer the car back out of a parking space later.
2018 Ford Escape prices start with the S model, which is offered only with front-wheel drive and costs $24,935, including a $995 destination charge. Its feature set is limited to the 2.5-liter engine, 17-inch steel wheels with hubcaps and LED taillights. The next step up is the Escape SE, which has the 1.5-liter turbo engine, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, dual-zone climate control and a power driver's seat. It costs $26,695 with front-wheel drive and $28,045 with all-wheel drive. The $1,295 Safe and Smart package adds, among other things, pre-collision braking, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep.
The Escape SEL adds the Sync 3 infotainment system, a power liftgate, rear parking sensors and 18-inch wheels. It's $29,095 with front-wheel drive and $30,445 with AWD. The Safe and Smart package is also offered. Finally, the top tier is the Escape Titanium, which lists for $33,135 with front-wheel drive and $34,485 with AWD. Major upgrades include remote start, a Sony ten-speaker sound system, leather seats, the 2.0-liter turbo engine and push-button start.
The 2018 Ford Escape is available nationwide now.