2014 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD
The Ford Escape regularly dukes it out with the Honda CR-V for the SUV crown in any given month, and that's interesting because the Escape is such a different vehicle. Where the Honda is staid, the Ford is flashy. Where the Honda is practical, the Ford is stylish. Where the Honda can be dull, the Ford is fun.
Resplendent in its sunset metallic paint (a new color this year) set off with 19-inch "Luster Nickel" wheels ($695) and silver roof rails, our nattily attired Ford Escape Titanium was the style maven of the group. There's nary a dowdy line on the creased and angular exterior, and the cabin is similarly amped up. The wide center console sweeps up to meet the dash and is decked out in gloss black trim. The center stack houses Ford's MyFord Touch full-color touch screen, which is very pretty to look at but, owing mostly to its tiny touch points, not so fun to use. The dash's deep-set gauges, which feature flashy bright blue accents, flank a second reconfigurable TFT screen. The whole presentation is modern and high-tech. Once you've taken it all in, however, you notice that there's nowhere to stash your stuff, and that the long A-pillars and rising beltline constrict the view out. Nor is the 2014 Ford Escape the best choice for ferrying passengers, since its back seat, while adequate, is smaller than most of the others here.
With an output of 168 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, the base Escape's 2.5-liter four, or even the SE/Titanium's standard engine, a 1.6-liter EcoBoost making 178 hp and 184 lb-ft, would have better lined up against our assembled group. Ford, however, sent us the optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost ($1195), which packs a blistering 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Unsurprisingly, it made the 2014 Ford Escape the hot rod of the bunch. The EcoBoost provides energetic throttle response, and the powertrain electronics and a snappy six-speed automatic effectively mask turbo lag. The sound quality might not be great, and there's a faint vibration at idle, but those are minor issues. More disappointing is the 2.0-liter's fuel economy: at 21/28 mpg, it's tied for second worst in the group, but given the available power, that might be a tradeoff worth making.
Outside of the engine room, the 2014 Ford Escape was also pretty entertaining -- for the category, at least. Deputy editor Joe DeMatio praised the chassis for its body control and brake pedal feel. We found the steering well weighted and the handling quite good. The ride is fairly busy -- probably not helped by those big wheels -- but the 2014 Ford Escape is great at soaking up nasty pavement. You can hear the suspension working, but jarring impacts don't make their way to the passengers.
The 2014 Ford Escape might have won it all were it not for one big sticking point: the price. The Ford's as-tested total came in at a laughably expensive $37,295, which was $3555 more than the next-priciest contender and a whopping $8080 more than the lowest-priced entrant. With AWD and the 2.0-liter turbo, the Titanium starts at $32,380 and comes with leather and pretty much everything you need -- unless you need navigation. Even adding navigation ($795), you might still have a winner, albeit not a great bargain. But our test car was larded with a panoramic sunroof ($1495) and an equally expensive package that included a power liftgate, rear parking sensors, HID headlights, blind-spot warning, cross-traffic alert, active park assist, and a bunch of lesser items. Add navigation, the aforementioned 19-inch wheels, and a towing package, and you get a compact SUV that priced itself well into the midsize class.
2014 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD
|MSRP (with destination)||$32,380|
|Price as Tested||$37,295|
|Engine||2.0-liter DOHC turbocharged I-4|
|Horsepower (hp)||240 @ 5500 rpm|
|Torque (lb-ft)||270 @ 3000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined)||21/28/24 mpg|
|CHASSIS AND MEASUREMENTS|
|Front suspension||Strut-type, coil springs|
|Rear suspension||Multilink, coil springs|
|Brakes f/r||Vented discs/discs|
|LxWxH||178.1 x 72.4 x 66.3 in|
|Track f/r||61.5/61.6 in|
|Curb weight||3769 lb|
|Cargo (behind second/first row)||34.3/68.1 cu ft|
|Legroom (first/second row)||43.1/36.8 in|
|Headroom (first/second row)||39.9/39.0 in|