If you need to remove yourself from an unpleasant situation, Ford has been offering the opportunity to escape since 2000 in the form of their model known as the Escape. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the plucky & compact SUV, so Ford sent us their latest 4WD model for review. Normally our reviews are one week only, but even automotive journalists need a Christmas vacation.
Two weeks of fully loaded family travel will expose the best and worst of any automobile, so please allow us to offer this condensed version of the adventure. The trip involves a family of four and a drive from St. Petersburg, Florida to the mountains of North Georgia, to Savannah, Daytona, and Orlando for New Years. Total mileage was over 2,200, and it changed our perceptions about small SUVs.
Our subject arrived glistening in Deep Impact Blue with polished 19″ wheels. Overall the shape is sleek and enticing, a far cry from Escape’s previous generations. To gain aerodynamic advantage, the roof line drops sharply aft of the rear seats. It looks great in profile, but the lower roof limits cargo space and rear visibility. Heavily sculpted headlights and an aggressive front bumper make it look fast while parked. Body panel gaps are better than most in this class, but the paint could use some attention. Orange Peel is a paint defect that results from having too much clear coat.Having too much clear will protect the base coat longer, but our Escape could have used a nice color sanding.
On the inside is where the Escape really prevails. Previous generations were aimed at rental fleets and taxi fleets, with little thought to interior comfort. That is why Ford chose to use the proven styling of the European Ford Kuga for the current Escape. Within a few miles, driver and passengers will comment that every control is in the right location. It feels as if serious thought was put into ergonomics and comfort. Seating position is among the best we have experienced, but therein we also found a flaw. The steering column is mounted high in the chassis, so the steering wheel doesn’t tilt low enough to allow for unsafe driving. If you like to cruise with your knee/leg on the wheel, you will be out of luck. Another European influence is in the quality of interior materials. From leather to machined trim, a majority of the surfaces were made with attention to detail.
If you haven’t driven anything with Ford’s recent EcoBoost technology, you are doing yourself a disservice. Small turbochargers and direct injection are making big gains in small cars. This 2.0L four cylinder is quiet and well behaved in all situations. Unfortunately, it is only offered with a six speed automatic. Not that the automatic is bad, its six gears are close in ratio to keep the turbo’s boost available almost instantly.
Ford is asking us to forgive Escapes of the past. Starting at $23,100, you will have a quality American crossover with all the features your family could ever need. Stay tuned to Autofluence, for the next installment from In the Driver’s Seat.