2014 Ford Escape: “The Great Escape”

22 Mar 2014 | 1,789 views | No Comment
By Donald Hammonds     As the headline implies, we think highly of the 2014 Ford Escape. 2014 Ford Escape SE 4dr SUV Exterior       To be honest, if we had test driven the Escape during the 2013 model year, it would have walked away hands down with a win for the best vehicle in the small crossover category  in our new Vanguard Award program for 2013--more on that in the next couple of weeks.       And frankly, unless somebody else's small crossover really delivers the goods better than the Escape, this one is already a frontrunner for the 2014 model year in this category.   Of the small crossovers and suvs we've driven, the Escape has the most going for it, not to mention fabul0us styling.  And driving?  It's an absolute blast--just about as much performance and handling fun as you are likely to get in a small SUV. And we haven't even mentioned fuel economy: with the 1.6 liter Ecoboost engine, this crossover performs and drives much more like a smaller sports car than a crossover.       Surefooted, with excellent handling, steering that goes exactly where you want it to be, and a sense of being light on its feet and eager to take off, Ford's Escape definitely the fastest and most eager small mainstream crossover we've driven yet.      Our test drive example was a front wheel drive Escape SE version with a base price of $25,550. Adding an equipment group consisting of SE  convenience package, a reverse sensing system, perimiter alarm, and the SYNC voice activated infotainment system, a power liftgate, and the  MyFord Touch/Nav system, the final price was $$29,075.       Standard equipment included aluminum wheels, auto halogen headlamps, some exterior brightwork, dual power mirrors, fog lamps, keyless entry keypad, privacay glass, 10 way power driver and four way manual passenger seats, a 60/40 split fold rear set, ice blue lighting for instrumentation, illuminated entry, tilt steering wheel with cruise audio controls, air conditioning, AM-FM CD/MP3 system, power steering, locks, and windows, a rear view camera, Sync Voice Activated system, Advance/Trac with RSC, various airbags, and other items.  The warranty on the Escape is for 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, five years/60,000 miles powertrain, and five years/60,000 miles of road assistance. The engine, as we've said, is a 1.6 liter, turbocharged four cylinder engine that puts out 173 horsepower, with a six speed automatic transmission doing the shifting for you.  It's rated at 23 city and 32 highway, and a combined city/highway rating of 26 miles per gallon.   The federal government says you can save $1,500 in fuel costs over five years compared with the average new vehicle.  Annual fuel costs is $2,000 based on 15,000 miles of driving and gasoline costing $3.50 a gallon.        The first thing we noticed about the Escape once we were comfortably seated, was the ultramodern dash layout, which definitely was easy on the eyes and an attention getter from the start.  All the gauges are easy to read and understand and controls easy to use--except for the  sometimes bewildering MyFord Touch infotainment system.        Other than MyFord Touch, the only other concern we had with the Escape interior was that it seemed pretty unimpressive in appearance and in selection of materials.  The expensive looking  dash presented itself so well and the seating and door panels appeared so mediocre that it didn't look as though it was the same car.        But to be fair, the more upscale versions of the Escape, particularly the Titanium, look terrific, and the leather seats are more comfortable, too.         The other demerit comes from Consumer Reports, which said the "first year reliability of the redesign" of the Escape is "well below average", with CR's new car prediction of reliabiity rated at "much worse than average."  But to be honest, we reallydidn't see any problems with our Escape.  It was tight as a drum, built quite well, and not a single issue in that area. The biggest problems reported by CR came in the engine cooling, fuel system  and audio system (MyFord Touch) areas.      All that said, we think that the Escape still ranks as one of the best cars on the market in the small crossover segment.  

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