2017 Ford Escape First Drive

Giving the People What They Want

Apr 22, 2016
Photographers: Ford Motor Company
Success is usually a positive thing, but along with it comes the pressure to not screw a good thing up. There’s no question the Escape has been a success for Ford. Coming off its seventh consecutive year of sales increases, the Escape is second only to the F-150 in annual sales. Crossovers are white-hot, and Ford is perfectly positioned with its full lineup from the Escape, Edge, and Explorer. All-new for the 2013 model year, the 2017 Escape is a comprehensive refresh that improves on an already proven and successful formula.
What’s Changed
Starting from the outside, the 2017 Escape gets a new grille and front fascia, which bring its appearance more in line with the rest of the Ford SUV lineup. The new trapezoidal grille design bears a strong resemblance to the larger Edge crossover, giving the Escape a more confident, assertive appearance, rather than the “tall Focus” look of last year’s model. Around back, a new taillight design freshens things up. A Sport Appearance Package is available on the mid-level SE and top-line Titanium models, which includes 19-inch black painted alloy wheels, and a dark-colored grille.
On the inside, the steering wheel is a new three-spoke design that looks sportier and has improved ergonomics and functionality of the auxiliary wheel-mounted controls. The center console was redesigned, replacing the parking brake handle with an electric parking brake, freeing up a lot of real estate in the console, allowing the shifter to be moved further back, and adding more console storage, along with an additional USB and 12-volt port. The center armrest now features two-tier storage, with a shallow tray for quick access to items such as sunglasses, key cards, breath mints, cell phones, and other assorted flotsam, with ample storage beneath for purses, tablets, or small laptops.
Under the Hood
The other major change for 2017 is under the hood. The base engine remains the naturally aspirated 2.5L I-4, which is expected to be mainly for fleet sales. However, the bulk of models will be powered by either a new 1.5L EcoBoost I-4, which first debuted on the 2014 Fusion midsize sedan, or a revised 2.0L EcoBoost as the premium engine option. Both engines are available on the SE and Titanium trims, in front- or all-wheel drive. Horsepower is up 1 hp on the 1.5 over last year’s 1.6, to 179, although torque is 7 lb-ft less at 177 lb-ft. The 2.0L gets a bump of 5 hp and 5 lb-ft for 245 hp and 275 lb-ft. As before, the standard and only available transmission is a six-speed automatic. The power delivery characteristics of both engines are essentially the same as last years’ engines, however, overall noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) are noticeably improved. Both EcoBoost engines come standard with auto stop-start for 2017. Unlike some other systems, which are abrupt, jarring, and obtrusive, Ford’s application is nearly transparent in its operation, producing minimal vibration and starting up quickly and unobtrusively. The driver can override the function per trip upon initial startup.
More Tech
Ford’s Sync 3 multimedia interface, which was new on the Escape for 2016, is a massive and welcome improvement over the outgoing MyFord Touch system. Much smoother, quicker, more intuitive, and more responsive than MFT, the system also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality for 2017. The big tech news on the 2017 Escape is Sync Connect and FordPass, a pair of technologies giving drivers remote access to their vehicles wherever there is a data signal. The initial iteration of the FordPass app gives drivers access to the fuel level and offers maintenance reminders, remote start, locking, and unlocking. Sync Connect and FordPass is optional on the SE and standard on the Titanium. Additional features and functions are promised in the near future. The Sync Connect data connection is provided at no charge for the first five years.
Finally, in the area of driver-assist features, the 2017 Escape features available adaptive cruise control, lane keeping alert, enhanced active park assist with perpendicular park, and reverse assist and automatic emergency braking. Pricing starts at $24,245 for a base S model, including $895 destination. The SE model with the 1.5L EcoBoost starts at $25,745, including destination. An all-wheel-drive Titanium with the 2.0L EcoBoost and all the bells and whistles will go for around $38,000. The new Escape will be on dealer lots this May.
Overall, if you were a fan of the 2013-2016 Escape, you’ll probably like the 2017 model. Improvements are subtle but meaningful. The Escape’s quiet cabin, responsive but smooth ride, and ample comfort and convenience features all carry over intact and, in almost all cases, improved. We fully expect the Escape to continue its hot sales streak and remain among the most popular compact crossovers on the market.

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