Ever since it debuted for 2001, Ford’s Escape set the pace for the growing compact crossover SUV market. Last redesigned for the 2014 model year, the Escape gives shoppers a greater choice in four-cylinder engines than most models: a 2.5-liter, and a pair of direct-injected EcoBoost fours (1.6 or 2 liters), each promising a different towing capacity and slightly different gas-mileage estimate.
What's New for 2016
A newly available SYNC 3 communications/entertainment system has a fresh interface that uses a capacitive touchscreen, similar to those in tablets and smartphones. New One Box Search features, included with the available navigation system, let users look up points of interest or enter addresses, as they might with an Internet search engine.
Choosing Your Ford Escape
For the first time, Escape SE can have a leather comfort package, adding heated leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated power mirrors, and one-touch front/rear windows. A chrome appearance package now is available for the SE trim, including 19-inch chrome wheels and partial leather seats.
Cargo space is an ample 34.3 cubic feet, doubling when the rear seatbacks are folded. Standard safety features include AdvanceTrac with roll stability control, Safety Canopy side-curtain airbags for first and second rows, and an SOS Post-Crash Alert System.
Ford’s Escape offers three engine choices: 1.6-liter EcoBoost at 178 horsepower for the SE and Titanium series; 2-liter EcoBoost (240 horsepower), also for SE/Titanium; or regular 2.5-liter (168 horsepower), which is unavailable in the Titanium. Both EcoBoost engines are direct-injected for greater efficiency. Fuel economy is estimated at 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway with the 2.5-liter; EcoBoost engines are slightly more thrifty. Ford’s six-speed automatic transmission offers SelectShift manual gear-selection.
Three trim levels are available: S, SE, and Titanium.
Picking the best Escape isn’t so easy. Even before thinking about options, you have to choose between three engines and three trim levels, with front- or all-wheel drive. That being said, we’d opt for the SE over the basic S, preferably with helpful all-wheel drive and an EcoBoost engine, which is more modern and efficient than the familiar 2.5-liter four-cylinder.