The publicity push for a significantly updated Ford Escape coming for 2017 is already under way, so astute shoppers can expect to find some bargains on the current generation as this model year goes forward. Ford and its dealers will be motivated to move the 2016 Escape off the lots to make room for the new iteration. Is a 2016 worth considering? Perhaps.
The Escape last saw big changes for 2013. No longer partnering with Mazda as it had for the previous generations, Ford developed the new Escape from its Focus platform. It also dropped the previously optional V-6, instead serving up a strong 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder as the top-spec engine and a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four as the base engine in front-drive vehicles (a 1.6-liter EcoBoost fills that role in all-wheel-drive versions). Our previous road tests have been confined to all-wheel-drive Escapes: We first tested a 2.0-liter in top-level Titanium trim and then pitted another four-wheel-drive model, this time with the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, against five competitors in a comparison test. There, the Escape ran third behind Mazda’s then also-new CX-5 and Honda’s CR-V. The Mazda was (and remains) more fun to drive while the Honda proved more useful, in a class often judged by day-to-day usefulness. The CR-V rides at the top of the sales charts and gained strength with a refresh for 2015; Ford currently ranks third in sales, chasing the Toyota RAV4, which itself was updated for 2016.
We know a lot about the redesigned 2017 Escape but we’ve not driven it yet—a new version of the 2.0-liter EcoBoost gains 5 horsepower and 5 lb-ft of torque, and there’s an enhanced suite of technology including better smartphone integration, automatic engine stop-start to improve fuel economy, and adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning. Here, however, we’ve tested a 2016 front-driver in mid-level SE trim (base is S, top is Titanium) with the 2.0-liter engine as an example of what buyers might find on the lot today.
For 2016, the Escape’s 8.0-inch capacitive touch screen runs the latest Sync 3 software; it comes as part of a convenience package that is discounted from its normal $1395 if you spec the SE and the $1195 2.0-liter engine upgrade. Our example had navigation and a nine-speaker audio system for another $795. This test car also included a new-for-2016 SE Chrome package ($1445) that spatters the shiny surface across the door handles, liftgate, front fascia grilles, exterior mirror housings, and 19-inch wheels. It also adds “partial” leather seats. This car didn’t have it, but full leather commands another $1595 and also includes one-touch power windows, plus heat for the seats and the exterior mirrors. The power liftgate is $495, but the nifty kick-under-the-bumper-to-open feature comes only on Titanium models. Our SE stickered out to $30,995, but at this writing there are $2000 in available incentives. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Michael Simari