Perky Escape competent and classy
Ford Escape, which was called Ford Kuga until it underwent a name change at the start of 2017, is a medium SUV that is sold with either all-wheel-drive or 2WD.
The Escape name was familiar in Australia for many years until 2012, when Ford Australia decided the all-new model should be called Kuga. Now it's back to Escape.
A new model, the Escape Trend, which sits between the Ambiente and Titanium has been added to the range as Ford Australia strives to maximise sales in this hotly contested market segment.
We've just spent an interesting week in the top-line Escape Titanium. “Interesting” in that it was used as a mini truck for several days because we were moving house. Escape has rear seat backs that fold almost flat, making for easy loading of long items.
Escape styling changes when compared to the superseded Kuga include a facelift that was one of the first to use Ford’s new global design language.
It still has the familiar trapezoidal shape of the previous design, but now adds a bold two-bar grille within the trapezoid.
The headlights are large, slim and shapely and incorporate daytime running lights. Stylish fog lamps are part of the frontal package. The tail-lights have also had a makeover.
Two new colours, White Platinum (tri-coat) and Copper Pulse, are offered throughout the range.
Inside, the steering wheel and air-conditioning controls have been modified to make them more intuitive.
Our Titanium was powered by a 2.0-litre TDCi turbo-diesel that produces 132kW at 3500rpm, with a strong 400Nm of torque between 2000 and 2500rpm. Its six-speed automatic transmission drives through all four wheels (AWD).
Other engines offered in the Escape are a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol in two variants (110kW and 240 Nm) or (134 kW and 240Nm) and a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol (178kW/ 345Nm).
The low-power 1.5 is offered in the entry-level model, the Ambiente, with a six-speed manual.
All others in the Escape range use a six-speed automatic. Note that all automatic Escapes have paddle-shifts so drivers can manually select gears.
Escape has an 8.0-inch touchscreen. Connectivity is via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ford’s Sync 3 is standard on all Escapes and gives access to audio, satellite navigation and miscellaneous other functions.
There’s a big emphasis on voice recognition as Ford has done considerable research into how people have been using the system.
Smartphone apps now include Spotify, AccuWeather and Pandora.
Ford driver-assist technologies, including an upgraded version of Ford’s optional Active City Stop collision avoidance system, which now operates at speeds of up to 50 km/h.
Other driver aids include cross traffic alert, park-out assist that helps drivers out of a parallel parking space, optimise handling and traction and a driver alert system detects certain signs of fatigue and provides a warning in the instrument cluster.
Ford Escape comes with some of the most comfortable front seats we have experienced for a long time.
Obviously this is a personal thing but give them a try for yourself and see what you think.
Rear-seat legroom is very good.
There are now rear-seat air vents for air-con system on all Escape models.
Comfort is pretty good, with the Escape providing the sort of relaxed feel that will work well for families on long trips.
A real bonus if the youngsters are restless.
Steering is nicely responsive and there’s good feel through the wheel.
Handing is pretty good, with the expected safe understeer when pushed hard.
Escape isn’t a sports SUV in the manner of some of the big name European SUVs of this size, but it’s not that far behind.
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel starts almost as quickly as a petrol engine. Sound levels from outside the car are definitely diesel but we have heard lots worse.
Inside, the diesel is quiet and refined and all but inaudible when cruising at steady speeds.
There’s some turbo lag but it's minimal and once you get that big 400Nm on tap there is plenty of performance to get you up big hills, or past slower vehicles with a minimum of time on the wrong side of the road.
Fuel consumption was typically in the sixes on the motorways, not as low as we anticipated given that it's a modern diesel.
Around town it was usually in the eight to 10 litres per 100km range.
The latest version of Ford’s Escape SUV is a competent machine with a styling update that provides a good combination of 4WD toughness and family wagon practicality.
It certainly deserves a place on your short list in this crowed market segment. Your local Ford dealer is Broome Auto Group, 9192 1250.
Ford Escape’s familiar trapezoidal grille has been kept and two bars added within it.