Escaping the Ordinary: 2017 Ford Escape Review

Small SUVs are a hot commodity — so much so that at least four models should top 300,000 units sold this year.

The Toyota RAV is in hot pursuit of the segment-leading Honda CR-V, followed by the Nissan Rogue and the Ford Escape. Although sitting in a distant second place among Ford brand products to the F-150, the Escape now outsells Ford’s Fusion sedan, itself one of the top-selling midsize models.

Ford introduced the Escape in 2001, with an updated model appearing six years later. The most important change took place in 2013 when an all-new model was released.

The move was significant for Ford as the automaker severed its tie with Mazda (previous models were based on the architecture it shared with the Mazda Tribute) and dropped the hybrid variant. Ford’s compact hybrids are now sold under the C-MAX model range.

The new model offers a modern design, room for five, and three engine choices. Its release was timed perfectly with shifting consumer demand and Ford has reaped those benefits.

But resting on your laurels is dangerous in this business as competitors are quick to pivot in an effort to gain an upper hand. Furthermore, consumers are much less brand loyal than ever as they search for the most modern vehicle with the technology and convenience features that distinguish them.

2017 Ford Escape Review

2017 Ford Escape

For 2017, the Ford Escape is vastly overhauled, reflecting a significant mid product cycle update. It also follows several interim changes Ford has made year-over-year since the third-generation Escape was released.

Indeed, in 2014 Ford shuffled its trims and made a rearview camera and its SYNC telematics system standard across the model line. In 2016, Ford released the third-generation of its SYNC system, replacing MyFord Touch.

The changes for 2017 include refreshed front and rear fascias, a newly available 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an updated 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Along with a handful of interior updates, this model now provides Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility.

Moreover, the Escape’s list of available safety features has expanded to include adaptive cruise control with forward collision alert, lane-departure prevention, and a driver drowsiness monitor. Ford now offers a Sport Appearance Package on the SE and Titanium trim and continues with this model’s maximum 3,500-pond towing capacity.

The 2017 Ford Escape is available in three trims: S ($23,600), SE ($25,100), and Titanium ($29,100). Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available except for the base trim.

Three Engine Choices

2017 Ford Escape

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is found on the S model only and makes 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. This model makes an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

Both the SE and Titanium models offer a standard 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine making 179 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel-drive models achieve the best fuel economy for the model line, making an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

The two higher trims also offer an available 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo four-cylinder engine making 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. This model makes an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

All three engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The standard 1,500-pound towing capacity with the base model can be upgraded to 3,500 pounds with the 2.0-liter engine and with the available Class II trailer tow prep package ($495) optioned.

Exterior Highlights

Equipment levels vary (and in some cases widely) from base to high-end model. Standard exterior equipment includes a black grille, 17-inch wheels, halogen headlamps, and power side mirrors.

Upgrades bring in a chrome-accented grille, Bi-Xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps, fog lamps, side mirror turn signal indicators, roof rack rails and cross bars, and a power liftgate. In addition, SE ($1,295) and Titanium ($725) models offer sport appearance packages

Interior Highlights

2017 Ford Escape

Keyless entry is standard; push-button start is found in the Titanium model only. Inside, cloth or leather seat trim is included. A power-operated driver’s seat starts at the SE level.

Although the Escape offers room for five, it is best suited for four — consider the middle seat position your comfort space with its pull-down armrest and two cup holders (not available in the S model).

Power accessories, a six-speaker audio system, SYNC voice recognition, and climate control is standard. As for the Escape Titanium, a Sony 10-speaker audio system is included. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are found except for the base model.

Standard cargo space is excellent, measuring 34 cubic feet. Not only can you hold all your groceries with ease, but you can pack the back for a long weekend away with the family. If you don’t need the rear seat, then fold it and you’ll double your cargo carrying capacity.

Safety Equipment and Packages

2017 Ford Escape

On the safety front, the 2017 Escape achieved “good” scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in four categories: moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints & seats.

The Institute assigned an acceptable score in the small overlap front test. “Good” is the IIHS’ highest score followed by acceptable, marginal, and poor.

All 2017 Escapes come with a suite of airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag. A rearview camera is standard. Incidentally, most driver assist technologies show up on the Titanium level, but only as part of a $1,995 technology package.

That package includes bi-xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps with LED signature lamps; auto high beams; enhanced active park assist system with parallel parking, park out assist, reverse perpendicular parking, and forward and side sensing systems; lane-keeping system; rain-sensing windshield wipers; heated steering wheel; and a supplemental PTC heater.

Notably, a blind spot information system is a standalone standard item on the Titanium and part of a $1,395 tech package for the SE trim.

On the Road

Our all-wheel drive test model was equipped with the larger turbo engine. Let me say this: it provides much more power than what most people need, but having access to its enhanced performance isn’t something you’ll easily dismiss once experienced.

To illustrate, the mighty four acts like a strong V6 — a generation ago it would have beaten not a few small block V8s in overall performance.

Wonderfully, this twin-scroll engine is imbued with better technology than a traditional turbo as it gathers engine exhaust from cylinder pairs in alternating sequence. Specifically, these alternating pushes go far in eliminating lag, the bane of turbo engines.

2017 Ford Escape

All things considered, you’ll zip away from a dead stop and tap robust power as you race down the road. No, the Escape isn’t meant for racing, but with all-wheel drive, adept steering, and confident handling, you’ll shine on the straightaways.

Twisty roads mean you’ll experience some body roll, but it is far from what you’d face with front-wheel drive only or with larger, more cumbersome models. The Escape shares its DNA with the Ford Focus, one of the more competent small cars out there.

Parting Thoughts

Clearly, the 2017 Escape is a compelling model. It also becomes quite pricey when choosing the Titanium model, the available twin-scroll engine, and several packages. As a matter of fact, more than $35,000 pricey when fully loaded. That’s a high price to pay for a small SUV.

Instead of the Titanium, consider the SE trim. If you need all-wheel drive and prefer such equipment as BLIS, reverse sensing, an upgraded audio package, and SYNC 3, then the $1,395 equipment group is a must.

Add in a panoramic vista roof ($1,495) and the power liftgate ($495) and you’ll pay about $30,000 to acquire this vehicle. At any rate, that’s a price point in line with it competitors, although you’re also forgoing the more powerful engine and a number of driver assistance features.

2017 Ford Escape by the Numbers

Mid-product cycle updates are supposed to provide a nip here and a tuck there. An engine or transmission change signals a more aggressive update, while tech changes seem to come yearly.

As for the 2017 Ford Escape, this is no middling update. Instead, Ford poured vast resources into improving its compact SUV — that fact really should not surprise as the Escape is one of its top-selling models. To that end, we’ll take a look at the important “numbers” defining this model.

1 or First

SYNC 3 is the latest version of Ford’s connectivity suite. It seems like eons ago when the 2008 Ford Focus was outfitted with the first-generation system.

The 2017 Escape will claim an important first among Ford brand models: it’ll have support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – permitting drivers to seamlessly systematize their preferred devices.


As before, Ford offers a family of three four-cylinder engine choices with the 2017 Escape. A normally aspirated 2.5-liter is one choice as is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four. Both engines are carryovers.

What’s new is a 1.5-liter, four making 179 horsepower and 177 foot-pounds of torque. These numbers compare favorably to the previous 1.6-liter engine making 178 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque. All three engines are paired with 6-speed automatic transmissions.


The F-150 is Ford’s best-selling model year in and year out. In 2015, Ford sold more than 780,000 F-Series (including F-150 and Super Duty) according to, more than twice that of any other model.

There are only a few thousand sales separating the compact Escape SUV from the midsize Fusion sedan, but for right now the Escape is in the No. 2 position. That’s how important this model is to Ford.

3 or Third

Among compact SUVs, the Ford Escape is the third best-selling model in the country, coming in just behind the Toyota RAV4 and just ahead of the Nissan Rogue. What model is at the top of the heap? That would be none other than the perennial best-selling Honda CR-V.

But take note as both Toyota and Ford have moved ahead of Honda through March 2016. The SUV tide is rising, but some manufacturers (including Ford) have newer or more desirable models to ride the crest.

5 or Fifth

The third-generation Ford Escape debuted in 2013, making 2017 its fifth model year. The latest version arrives in the fifth month of this year or approximately five months earlier than normal.

In any case, Ford dealers should have plenty of new models on hand by this summer with a generous number of 2016 SUVs to mark down.


Do you like to tow? If so, choose the Escape equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and the Class II Towing Package, and you’ll enjoy 3,500 pounds of towing capacity.

The larger of the two EcoBoost (turbocharged) engines also cranks out 245 horsepower and 275 foot-pounds of torque, effectively matching what some V-6 engines deliver.


Spec out the top-of-the-line Escape Titanium model ($29,995) with driver assistance features ($1,995) and various trim upgrades, and your final price will push past $35,000.

The 2017 Escape starts at $23,600 for the base S trim with front-wheel drive. That model is also equipped with the least powerful, but the largest engine in the lineup.

Chances are you’ll be looking at the better-equipped SE ($25,100) and Titanium ($29,100) models, and find yourself enticed by such options (where available) as a panoramic vista roof ($1,495), adaptive cruise control with pre-collision assist ($595), and a Sony audio system with SYNC 3 and voice-activated navigation ($795).


In 2014 and again in 2015, Escape sales in the US topped 300,000 units. Specifically, Ford sold 306,212 Escapes stateside in 2014, then squeezed past that number in 2015 on 306,492 units sold.

Oh, by the way, Escape sales are up 6.4 percent through the first quarter of 2016. Right now, the Escape is battling Fusion for second place among Ford products with the sedan in the lead. The heavily refreshed Escape may provide the impetus to move ahead once the 2017s go on sale.

Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

Matthew Keegan

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