2021 Ford Escape review: A sensible choice

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

There are so many exciting things happening at Ford right now. The rough and the fall Bronchus arrives this year, after the launch of the tiny-hard Bronco Sport. Now there is an electric Mustang SUV. Heck, the The F-150 is a damn hybrid with an inverter so robust that it can power an entire house. So where do they leave other products, like Escape?

Contents

Like it

  • Strong acceleration from the 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine
  • Sync 3 has excellent voice control and smartphone connectivity
  • First-rate driver assistance and parking technology

I do not like

  • The interior looks a bit cheap
  • Strange ergonomics

The 2021 Ford Escape isn’t a particularly exciting ride, even loaded with titanium finishes with its more powerful EcoBoost turbo engine. It’s just a refined and comfortable commuter with a broad appeal. Unable to get away with playing with thrills and hype, the humble Fuga faces, in many ways, a much more difficult task than his more spectacular stablemates: selling himself only on practicality and value.

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I suppose you’ll get used to it, but finding Escape’s hidden Start button was my first challenge.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

EcoBoost with AWD

The first thing I notice about Escape? The strangely positioned engine start button. It’s crammed into a nook behind the steering wheel and nearly impossible to see from the driver’s seat without stretching my neighbor and twitching my wrist. Not a good ergonomic introduction.

Fortunately, that button ignites a powerful little engine: Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the Escape accelerates with surprising enthusiasm and has a very responsive throttle. I’d say the Escape 2.0T has some of the best get-up-and-go in the compact crossover class.

Fuel-saving stop-start technology helps the EcoBoost 2.0T achieve an estimated 23 miles per gallon of city, 31mpg on the highway and 26mpg combined – numbers that have remained unchanged from last year’s estimates. During my 294.6 miles of freeway testing, I averaged 28 mpg too.

Escape buyers can opt for a smaller 1.5-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine with 181hp, as well as 200hp hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. The entry-level 1.5T – that we drove last year – it’s the cheapest finish and arguably a better apple-to-apple match with the likes of non-hybrid RAV4 is CR-V in terms of power and efficiency. The electrified models are the most efficient variants of the Escape, averaging 41 mpg with the conventional hybrid and offering an additional 37 miles of electric cruising range with the plug-in.

With standard all-wheel drive and 3,500 pounds of towing capacity (when equipped with the trailer tow package), the 2.0T is also the most capable version of the Escape; minor engine options only allow it to tow 1,500 pounds. Handling and braking feel on par with the rest of the small SUV class – more people moving people than canyon carvers – so don’t expect to be blown away by the Escape’s performance.

The Escape has multiple driving modes to help you fine-tune the SUV’s behavior, ranging from sporty to thrifty, but I find it annoying to switch between settings. There’s just a button and it goes through Escape’s five driving modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, Rain and Snow. So while switching from Eco to Sport is a tap, going back to Eco or Normal takes four or five, assuming you don’t accidentally tap too fast and get past it.

The larger EcoBoost engine increases the Escape’s towing capacity from 1,500 to 3,500 lbs.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

The creature comforts

On the outside, the sleek design of the Escape is quite car-like and accessible. The dimensions are good for easy urban parking and, from the driver’s seat, the SUV boasts pretty good visibility in all directions. My example features a hands-free electric tailgate that opens smoothly and quickly with a kick under the bumper.

Inside, Ford’s designers tried to create a premium vibe with a pile of exposed grain faux wood and, on my titanium model, leather-covered seats. Aside from the aforementioned start button, the dashboard and console controls feel well placed. However, the wood looks really fake when you look at it more closely. Many of the cabin materials – such as the hard plastic door panels and the easily scratched lower dashboard – look cheap.

Ford compensates for this with some solid technological features. B&O badges indicate premium sound provided by high-end audio manufacturer Bang & Olufsen. The sound quality is above average to my ear, but not on an audiophile level. A digital instrument cluster with separate themes for sport and normal driving plays pleasant animations inspired by nature when starting and shutting down. Also optional is a visor-style head-up display that rises from the top of the instrument grille. I would prefer the HUDs to be projected directly onto the windshield, but any HUD is better than no HUD.

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The Escape cabin is nice, if you don’t look too closely.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

The main event as far as technology is concerned is the Sync 3 infotainment system. Its software is well organized and its feature set checks all the right boxes, with USB connectivity, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa integration, Bluetooth and satellite and HD radio tuning. Voice-activated navigation has been a hallmark of Sync since its inception and continues to work well here, with excellent natural language recognition for addresses.

The Escape also features Ford Co-Pilot 360 Assist, a standard suite of driver assistance features, including pre-collision assistance with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring and warning. of rear cross traffic. The switch to titanium cladding – or the Co-Pilot 360 Assist Plus option – adds adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic and traffic sign recognition, both new for 2021. The Plus update includes also Lane-Centered Steering Assist and a feature called Evasive Steering Assist which works in synergy with Emergency Brake Assist to help drivers steer around obstacles.

As always, Ford’s Active Park Assist, now in its second generation, is still extremely competent and sometimes easier to use than parking it yourself, requiring only the press of a single button to enter parking mode while the vehicle handles steering. , shifted and braked.

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Strong Sync 3 infotainment compensates for some of the cabin’s shortcomings.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Okay and that’s okay

The 2021 Ford Escape starts at $ 26,130, including a $ 1,245 destination tax, for a base 1.5TS model with front-wheel drive. Fully optioned, the 2.0T AWD Titanium tops $ 40,820 – interestingly, a higher skosh than the $ 39,435 loaded hybrid Titanium.

The 2.0-liter EcoBoost option and Escape boast a slight performance advantage over much of this class. However, the more common 1.5-liter model does not have this advantage and the Recently updated Nissan Rogue, the Kia Seltos and Toyota’s RAV4 become threats with more comparable road manners and slightly better interior quality. The Kia, for example, is much less expensive than the Ford when equipped comparably. Escape’s technology is still top notch, especially its one-button parking technology, but it’s not as good as it once was now that the competition has reached the latest generation. At the other end of the spectrum, the Subaru Crosstrek and Ford’s inbound Bronco Sport appeal for drivers looking for more off-road utility in their small SUVs.

The 2021 Ford Escape isn’t the most exciting thing Ford does right now, but it’s still a very competent player. As a volume seller, it is a very important model for Ford’s profits.

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