The 2018 Ford Escape

The 2018 Ford Escape does its best to deny its company’s sterling truck credentials. It’s a crossover SUV in mission, but the Escape wants to be driven like a sporty hatchback.

Ford sells the Escape in S, SE, SEL, and Titanium trim. All offer all-wheel drive, and Ford fits a range of powertrains that range from frugal to frothy.

The Ford Escape still looks firm, taut, even nubile if you line it up against something as dowdy as a Subaru Crosstrek. It doesn’t toe the blocky-SUV line at all–a big turnaround from the first-generation Escape and its mini-Explorer shape. Today’s model is handsome and pert, six years into its lifespan, and a new front end applied last year only made it better-looking.

The smaller-displacement turbo-4 with 179 hp makes a great noise and kicks in more low-end grunt with better EPA numbers. Make no mistake, if we bought an Escape, it’d have the 245-hp turbo-4 that creams rivals in acceleration and passing power: it’s a brilliant companion for the Escape’s sharp steering and very firm ride.

2018 Ford Escape

 

The Ford Escape’s in the CX-5 league of commanding road feel; it’s easy to needle through a favorite list of winding roads with paddle controls shifting its 6-speed automatic, all-wheel drive doling out power front to back as its wheels slip through tight corners.

All riders will sense Ford’s devotion to spec-sheet details: The Escape’s seats are firm, as if Ford had carved out every half-inch it could find to boost head and leg room numbers. The seats support us very well. Cargo space is plentyful, and so is small-item storage–and the Escape’s gesture-controlled tailgate is a nice new-car party trick, same as its automatic park assist.

It loaded with features: leather, navigation, a tow package, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. It’s made big gains in infotainment by dumping the old MyFord Touch interface for a new one with clear readouts, quick responses and lovely touchscreens. We should all be so bright and sensitive.

 

We still like the Escape’s pert sheet metal, six model years into its life span. It’s an urban running shoe, trading off some ground-hugging lines for a tall roofline, a strike thrown right down the middle between rugged SUV and darty liftback. Last year Ford grafted a cleaner, crisper front end on it, and made it even better.

2018 Ford Escape

 

Ford nailed the Escape’s scrabbly turbo-4 and its quick steering. Swoopy lines say everything you need to know about the Ford Escape’s performance. It acts more like a zippy hatchback than crossover SUV, especially when it’s fitted with the more powerful turbocharged engine.

Three engines show up on the Escape spec sheet. The base 2.5-liter inline-4 makes 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. It’s competent and reasonably smooth, but it’s the slowest of lineup.

Last year Ford introduced a new 1.5-liter turbo-4 with 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration isn’t much better than in the base 4-cylinder, but the 1.5-liter has stronger pull at low revs, and doesn’t downshift as much on the interstate.

The world would be a fine place if all Escapes came with the energetic 245-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 that’s available on many models and standard on the Escape Titanium. It’s capable of scooting the SUV to 60 mph in about seven seconds, and has gobs of low-end punch and passing power.

All Escapes shift gears through a 6-speed automatic that works fine. Turbo-4s have shift paddles, while the base engine has a sport mode and a shift switch on the gear lever.

Most Escapes come with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available. Ford offers a simple system that splits power between the front and rear wheels, and can move power between them as wheelslip is sensed. The Escape can clamp its front brakes individually to simulate torque-vectoring, and to help the crossover corner more effectively.2018 Ford EscapeIt doesn’t need much help. The Escape has polished handling and a firm, tossable feel that shines among the glumpy road manners of its competitive set. It controls its body with sport-sedan authority, and doles out steering that’s fast to respond, and weighty in feel. The Escape feels more like an involving hatchback that just happens to have a little more ground clearance and cargo space.

At 178.1 inches long, on a 105.9-inch wheelbase, the Escape is just a bit smaller than a Honda CR-V, though its wheelbase is 3 inches longer. The Escape cabin feels more spacious than that in the CR-V, but the Ford comes in marginally smaller than the Honda by the yardstick, with 43.1 inches of front leg room compared to the CR-V’s 41.3 inches, and 37.3 inches of rear-seat leg room compared with the Honda’s 38.3 inches.

Cargo space is midpack for the Escape’s class. It has 34 cubic feet behind the rear seat, which rises to 68 cubic feet when the rear seatbacks are folded down. The Escape has a gesture-controlled tailgate that opens at the swipe of a foot. The Escape’s cargo floor also has a two-position load floor and the surrounding space is regular and trimmed out well.

Ford now fits some Escape SUVs with forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. Options include front and rear parking sensors, automatic park assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control. All Escapes have a driver knee airbag, a rearview camera, and a system that allows owners to limit the Escape’s vehicle speed, volume, and other functions.
All-wheel drive can be fitted to all Escapes. A tow package adds better headlights and trailer-sway control, which uses stability control to compensate for the rocking motion induced by a trailer.

The Ford Escape wins over crossover-SUV buyers with myriad features.
The 2018 Escape can be configured in four trim levels: S, SE, SEL, and Titanium, the Escape S comes with the base inline-4, power features, a rearview camera, cloth seats, air conditioning, cruise control, 17-inch wheels, an AM/FM/CD player with six speakers, and Ford’s Sync infotainment control system with a 4.2-inch center screen.

The Escape SE gains a standard 1.5-liter turbo-4 with shift paddles, satellite radio, a power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, keypad entry, and heated front seats.

2018 Ford Escape

A new Escape SEL slots in above the SE with leather seats, a power tailgate, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with infotainment, and rear parking sensors. It’s the best value in the lineup, by our measure.

For all the goodies, you’ll need to look into the Escape Titanium. It has a power passenger seat, a 12-speaker 390-watt Sony audio system, HD radio, keyless ignition, blind-spot monitors, rear parking sensors, ambient lighting, LED signature lighting, rear park assist, and 18-inch wheels. The Titanium’s infotainment system displays through an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and comes with navigation.

All but the base model can be fitted with Ford’s 2.0-liter turbo-4. They include a panoramic roof, remote start, automatic park assist, and a towing package. Ford’s latest Sync 3 infotainment system shares some of the fine code that underpins Chrysler’s Uconnect. The interface looks clean and responds quickly to touch input. It pairs with a new Sync Connect app lets owners start, lock, unlock and locate their vehicles with their smartphones.

 

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