Ford Escape Buying Guide: Dealmakers & Dealbreakers

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The Ford Escape backs up its new style with powerful engine options and the latest in-car technology (Source: Ford)

The Ford Escape has been redesigned for 2017, with an all-new look. But the Escape retains all the attributes that made it a popular option in the compact SUV segment, such as the high-performance turbocharged engines, car-like handling, and great SYNC infotainment system. It also brings innovative technology like the ability to remotely start your car from your phone. Factor in the latest safety technology, and the Escape is an attractive option in the crossover market.

2017 Ford Escape Fast Facts

Pricing: $23,750-$31,000
Seating: 5-passenger standard


• Sharp, new front end appearance
• Good quality interior materials
• High-performance optional engines
• Tight, car-like handling
• Great SYNC 3 Infotainment
• New Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
• Impressive fuel economy (on certain engines)
• Can unlock car with smartphone


• Base engine has below-average fuel economy
• Cabin lacks enough cubbies/trays
• Just-average reliability
• Cramped, cluttered dash controls
• Safety tech only optional on top trim
• Front seats too firm
• So-so rear seat room

Dealmakers: Ford Escape’s Top Lifestyle Features

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The availability of Apple CarPlay is one of the many great things about the Escape. (Source: Ford)

Upscale, sharp-handling, and sporty. These are some of the adjectives used to describe the Ford Escape by the experts. The Escape is a fully modern crossover, with some of the best infotainment on the market, advanced safety features, refined and powerful engines. It makes the Escape a great option if you’re looking for an upscale choice in the compact crossover segment.

Dealmaker: Sharp, New Front-End Appearance

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The aggressive new grille gives the Escape a sporty new look. (Source: Ford)

The Escape has a redesigned look to the front end design. It is a cleaner look compared to its predecessor and falls in line with the rest of the Ford vehicle lineup. This preference may be subjective, but if you like the way the rest of the Ford lineup looks, you’ll be happy to see the Escape has been updated to the latest aesthetic.

Dealmaker: Good Quality Interior Materials

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The cabin of the Escape has an upscale feel, and uses high-grade materials (Source: Ford)

While the neighbors can appreciate the exterior of the Escape, you and your family will take greater appreciation in the quality of the cabin. You can definitely tell the European-market-inspired interior from its heightened fit-and-finish and sharp, angular design. This is one of the few options in the compact SUV market that actually feels like a luxury vehicle– especially if you opt for the top-tier Titanium trim.

Dealmaker: Hands-Free Tailgate

Many compact SUVs offer a power rear lift gate, making loading items easier. But what if you are leaving a store with an arm full of bags? The top-tier Titanium trim is available with a hands-free power rear liftgate. As long as your key is in your pocket, you can simply wave your leg under the rear bumper and the liftgate deploys. Shown above in a 2013 model, which carries this tech to 2017, it makes for a huge help in those situations.

Dealmaker: Great SYNC 3 Infotainment

One of the more crucial elements to the cabin experience is the infotainment system. This has become a larger and larger priority in recent years, and Ford has responded by updating its infotainment system. Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment excels in large part to its ease of use. According to U.S. News & World Report, “SYNC 3 is user-friendly and responds quickly when you press the on-screen buttons. Little design details also make the infotainment system easy to use.” Large icons and easy-to-read fonts round out what makes SYNC 3 a great infotainment systems. Few are as good as SYNC, though Jeep’s Uconnect is one of the few that beat it out.

Dealmaker: New Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

One of the new additions to SYNC is support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. For avid smartphone users, this is a great value-add. Through your touchscreen, you can compose and receive text messages, access podcasts, navigation and other apps. It gives the Escape the edge over a vehicle like the Toyota RAV4, as Toyota refuses to adopt Apple CarPlay (shown in the above tutorial) or Android Auto. If you are a power user of your smartphone, vehicles like the Escape have you covered.

Dealmaker: Can Unlock/Start Escape with Smartphone

With CarPlay, Android Auto, and the functionality of SYNC 3, the Escape would be one of the dominant compact SUVs from a tech standpoint. But Ford ramps is up even more with SYNC Connect. In addition to 4G LTE connectivity, it features a connected app for your smartphone. This app allows you to remotely lock and unlock the vehicle, start the vehicle, and monitor its location.

Dealbreakers: Ford Escape’s Worst Lifestyle Features

It’s not all rosy with the Escape. Its tight layout and performance and focus on styling meant that some of the focus on versatility and utility fell to the wayside. But what does that mean? Read on to learn some of the downsides of the Escape.

Dealbreaker: Cabin Lacks Enough Cubbies/trays

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One of the few trays in the cabin of the Escape. (Source: Ford)

We mentioned how the Escape has a European-inspired cabin. This means superior fit-and-finish, but also means it seems to lack a typical American sensibility when it comes to the need for cubbies and ample cup holders. The need to make the cabin look fresh has resulted in there being a dearth of usable tray areas to drop your keys and other items. Look to vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 for superior cubby utilization.

Dealbreaker: Cramped, Cluttered Dash Controls

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Many of controls of the Escape are packed into this small panel. (Source: Ford)

One would think that with the lack of cubby space, more dash space would be afforded for controls, but the controls on the dash are rather crammed. The ideal layout is to have large buttons and knobs for radio and climate controls, but those controls are seemingly too tight. Some buttons are so tight that it would seem that if you were to try and hit them with gloves on, you’d end up mashing multiple buttons at once. This will become frustrating. Vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee have large buttons you can operate with gloves.

Dealbreaker: Front Seats Too Firm

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They might look comfortable, but the front seats lack the plush feeling needed for long trips. (Source: Ford)

The front seats offer support in cornering, but are unfortunately a little too firm. This might be just fine scooting around town or on a commute, but if you are on a longer trip, this could be an issue. You’ll either struggle to find a good seating position, or need to take multiple stops to give your posterior a rest.

Dealbreaker: So-so Rear Seat Room

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Don’t let this image fool you– there is very little rear seat room in the Escape. (Source: Ford)

While the seat comfort will be an issue for front seat occupants, the rear seats will be a bigger concern for rear passengers. Legroom is tight, especially for taller drivers. While you could squeeze in and deal, it would be a silly thing to do when there are vehicles with very generous rear seat room, such as the Toyota RAV4.

Dealbreaker: Safety Tech Only Optional on Top Trim

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There is a ton of available safety features, but only available on the top trims. (Source: Ford)

The Escape is available with safety features such as forward collision warning, blind spot warning, lane departure morning, and more, but you’ve got to pay. This is not uncommon for compact SUVs, but automakers are making these features available at a lower price-point. In fact, the Toyota RAV4 brings you all these features even on the base trim. If you really want these high tech safety features

Dealmaker: Well Equipped, with a Price to Match

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The SYNC 3 infotainment system is one of the many great features on the Escape. (Source: Ford)

The basic S trim of the Escape is rather pedestrian, but still comes with Ford’s SYNC infotainment. Moving up delivers more luxury, more performance, and more expressive styling. Read on to learn which trim of the Escape is right for you and your budget!

Trims Offered

S: (MSRP: $23,750)
• 17-inch steel wheels w/ silver-painted wheel covers
• 60/40 split-fold rear seat
• AdvanceTrac w/ RSC (Roll Stability Control)
• SYNC voice recognition and entertainment system
• Ford MyKey

SE: (MSRP $25,250, includes everything from S, plus)
• 18-inch bright machined aluminum wheels
• Panoramic vista roof
• Chrome-tipped dual exhaust
• Dual-zone automatic temperature control
• 10-way power drivers seat

Titanium: (MSRP $29,250, includes everything from SE, plus)
• 18-inch aluminum wheels
• Leather seating
• Hands-free, foot activated tailgate
• Sony 10-speaker audio system
• SYNC Connect

Dealmaker: Smooth, Sporty, and Speedy

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The engine lineup of the Escape tops out with some serious performance. (Source: Ford)

Ford has made an effort to make its cars fun. Be it the Fusion sedan or Focus hatch, there is taught steering and handling to be expected, and the same can be said for the Ford Escape. You might need to go to one of the uprated trims or even an optional engine for robust acceleration, but cornering is impressive across the lineup.

Handling: Tight and Fun

The Ford Escape delivers all the best parts of a “car-like ride.” Steering turn in is quick and powerful, but the steering wheel doesn’t have a ton of feedback. But that’s not a huge damper on the Escape’s handling. “With crisp steering,” States The Car Connection, “Responsive handling, and great body control, the Escape lives up to the hatchback profile.” It really is a fun, energetic ride, and one only rivaled by the Mazda CX-5 in the

Drivetrain: From Sleepy to Sporty

There are three engines available on the Escape. The base S comes with a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4, while all other trims come standard with a 179-horsepower 1.5-liter inline-4. The base engine has so-so acceleration and good fuel economy, while the 1.5 provides both acceleration and fuel economy. The available 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine provides some of the most power and acceleration in the compact SUV segment, but as Edmunds points out, “The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine is genuinely powerful, but you’ll pay for it at the pump. We recorded 20.5 mpg in mixed driving.”

Performance Specs

• Engine #1: 2.5-liter inline-4
• Output: 168 horsepower / 170 lb-ft of torque
• Transmission: 6-speed automatic
• Drivetrain: FWD
• Towing: 1,500 lbs.
• Fuel economy: 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined)

• Engine #2: 1.5-liter turbo EcoBoost inline-4
• Output: 179 horsepower / 177 lb-ft of torque
• Transmission: 6-speed automatic
• Drivetrain: FWD/AWD
• Towing: 2,000 lbs.
• Fuel economy, FWD: 23/30/26 (city/highway/combined)
• Fuel economy, AWD: 22/28/24 (city/highway/combined)

• Engine #3: 2.0-liter turbo EcoBoost inline-4
• Output: 245 horsepower / 275 lb-ft of torque
• Transmission: 6-speed automatic
• Drivetrain: FWD/AWD
• Towing: 3,500 lbs.
• Fuel economy, FWD: 22/29/25 (city/highway/combined)
• Fuel economy, AWD: 20/27/23 (city/highway/combined)

Dealmaker: Five Stars, but No “Top Safety Pick”

There are two major safety organizations that test road cars and publish scores. They are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). NHTSA scores vehicles out of five stars, while the IIHS scores on a scale of Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good. Additionally, the IIHS offers “Top Safety Pick” recommendations, as well as “Top Safety Pick +” for vehicles with advanced crash avoidance and mitigation features.

The IIHS also affixes a crash avoidance technology rating for vehicles. Top Safety Pick+ vehicles have “Superior” crash avoidance ratings, mid-range scores are “Advanced,” and the minimum crash prevention tech is considered “Basic.” If a vehicle is not a Top Safety Pick+, we’ll include any subsequent crash prevention technology.

Crash Test Safety: Five Stars

The Ford Escape earns a 5 Star overall crash test rating from NHTSA, putting it at the forefront of the safest vehicles from a crash test standpoint.

Crossover NHTSA Overall Crash Results
Toyota RAV4 5 Star
Subaru Forester 5 Star
Ford Escape 5 Star
Hyundai Tucson 5 Star
Kia Sportage 5 Star
Nissan Rogue 4 Star
Jeep Cherokee 4 Star
Honda CR-V N/A
Mazda CX-5 N/A
’18 Chevrolet Equinox N/A
’18 GMC Terrain N/A

The Ford Escape is joined by the Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, and Kia Sportage as 5 Star crash-test vehicles. Right behind that lead pack is the Nissan Rogue and Jeep Cherokee as 4 Star crash test vehicles. The Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, and 2018 GMC Terrain are all so new that they have not been tested by NHTSA. When these vehicles have been tested, we will update our safety tables accordingly.

IIHS Test Results

Crossover IIHS Results/Awards
Toyota RAV4 Top Safety Pick+
Nissan Rogue Top Safety Pick+
Subaru Forester Top Safety Pick+
Hyundai Tucson Top Safety Pick (Superior)
Kia Sportage Top Safety Pick (Superior)
Jeep Cherokee None (Superior)
Ford Escape None (Basic)
Honda CR-V N/A
Mazda CX-5 N/A
’18 Chevrolet Equinox N/A
’18 GMC Terrain N/A

The Ford Escape does not earn a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS. Nor does it have advanced safety features that earning anything more than a “basic” rating from IIHS. The Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, and 2018 GMC Terrain are all so new that they have not been tested by NHTSA. When these vehicles have been tested, we will update our safety tables accordingly.

The Escape comes with front and side impact airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, SOS post-crash alert system, backup camera, and LATCH child seat anchoring system.

Safety Tech: Some Tech, But Not Enough

The Escape is available with forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane departure avoidance. It does not have forward collision avoidance or mitigation, it merely warns the driver. The IIHS sees this is as sup-par and doesn’t give the Escape any major safety accolades.

Reliability: Just Average

The Ford Escape earns three out of five bubbles, or “About Average,” in J.D. Power Predicted Reliability Scores. This score is given if Vehicle Dependability Studies are not available for that vehicle.

Tiebreakers: Comparing the Ford Escape to the Competition

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The Toyota RAV4 blends on-road manners with intuitive infotainment and a spacious rear seat. (Source: Toyota

The Escape is certainly one of the sporty options in the compact SUV market. You can get an Escape in the right trim that is upscale, fast, and fun to drive– but you have to shell out. Rivals to the Escape offer some crucial things that the Escape does not. Read on to learn where competition thrives, and where the Escape still wins out.

Jeep Cherokee (MSRP $23,595-$37,695)

The Cherokee is the only compact SUV that offers true off-road capabilities, and its available V6 is strong (though the base I4 is underwhelming). The Cherokee also has impressive cabin quality, and some of the best infotainment in the segment, in the form of Uconnect.

Jeep Cherokee vs Ford Escape:
• High-quality cabin (Escape lacks the storage options)
• Outstanding infotainment (SYNC almost as good. Almost)
• Potent V6 and impressive Off-Road capability (Escape can’t go where Trailhawk can)

Learn more about the Jeep Cherokee here.

Nissan Rogue (MSRP $$23,820-$31,310)

The Rogue pushes the definition of “compact,” with three rows of seating, tons of cargo space, and plenty of cabin space for occupants. The Rogue also has a smooth ride, and is one of the few options in this segment with a hybrid variant.

Nissan Rogue vs Ford Escape:
• Only three-row compact crossover
• Large cargo area (Escape has tight cargo area)
• Rogue Hybrid Option (No hybrid option on Escape)

Learn more about the Nissan Rogue here.

Subaru Forester (MSRP $22,595-$34,295)

The Forester is one of the most affordable options in the compact SUV segment. And you get a lot for that low starting price. It has standard all-wheel drive, some of the most cargo space and passenger space in the class, and outstanding visibility. You can also get the fantastic EyeSight safety technology system.

Subaru Forester vs Ford Escape:
• Low starting price (Escape pricey option)
• Large, upright cargo area (Ford Escape lacking in cargo)
• Standard all-wheel drive (Subaru only to offer standard AWD)

Learn more about the Subaru Forester here.

Toyota RAV4 (MSRP $24,910-$36,150)

The RAV4 has a good reputation for reliability, easy-to-use infotainment, and is even available as a hybrid mode. The RAV4 also has plenty of rear seat space, making it a great option for carpooling.

Toyota RAV4 vs Ford Escape:
• Standard high-tech safety gear (need to shell out for safety tech)
• RAV4 Hybrid model (No Escape Hybrid option)
• Surprisingly spacious rear seats (Escape has tight rear seats)

Learn more about the Toyota RAV4 here.

Should I Buy a Ford Escape?

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The Escape makes a strong argument as a great daily driver with sporty driving manners. (Source: Ford)

The Escape certainly has some work to do when it comes to overall versatility or off-road capability, but it is one of the few options in the market that are legitimately fun to drive.

So Which to Buy?

• If you love upscale cabins: Escape, Cherokee

• If you actually enjoy fun driving: Escape, CX-5

• If you require cargo space: Forester, Rogue

• If you want second row cabin space: RAV4, Rogue

• If you want the latest safety and infotainment tech: Escape, Cherokee

• If you want to go off road: Cherokee, Forester

• If you want the best fuel economy: RAV4 Hybrid, Rogue Hybrid

• If you’re on a tight budget: Forester

Dealmakers vs. Dealbreakers Final Tally

Dealmaker: Sharp, new front end appearance
Dealmaker: Good quality interior materials
Dealmaker: High-performance optional engines
Dealmaker: Tight, car-like handling
Dealmaker: Hands-free tailgate
Dealmaker: Great SYNC 3 Infotainment
Dealmaker: New Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Dealmaker: Impressive fuel economy (on certain engines)
Dealmaker: Can unlock car with smartphone

Dealbreaker: Base engine has below-average fuel economy
Dealbreaker: Cabin lacks enough cubbies/trays
Dealbreaker: Just-average reliability
Dealbreaker: Cramped, cluttered dash controls
Dealbreaker: Front seats too firm
Dealbreaker: So-so rear seat room

Final Tally: +3
Market Average: TBD

The Ford Escape is certainly a sporty, upscale option in the compact SUV segment, but what it provides in nimble handling, energetic engines, and refined interiors, it lacks in more practical items. It doesn’t have the fuel economy of some of its rivals, doesn’t have the same abundance of trays and cubbies of rivals as well. Basically, it’s a sharp place to sit in for an energetic ride to work. So if you don’t need the strict utility of the more basic compact SUVs in this segment, the Ford Escape is a great way to make the daily grind a bit more exciting.

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