Demand for small SUVs has increased almost tenfold in the last few years, and by the next decade these small SUVs will make up around 40 percent of the automotive marketplace. This is due largely to baby boomers who no longer need gargantuan SUVs for their children, and millennials who are beginning their own families but also live an active and vibrant life, at least according to market researchers.
Enter the new and more functional 2017 Ford Escape, which isn’t revolutionary but is definitely better than its predecessor. It has received a face-lift, tummy tuck, and butt lift in the name of continuing Ford’s dominance in the crossover market. Besides the revised exterior, which carries Ford’s new global design language, the Escape also receives two new turbocharged engines: a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and a 2.0-liter twin-scroll EcoBoost four-cylinder.
The Escape’s driving dynamics are almost identical to the current generation vehicle that debuted in 2013, which Ford says was a deliberate decision. Buyers apparently had no concerns with how the old Escape drove; according to Ford, the engine’s size and power don’t mean as much to crossover shoppers as the car’s capabilities, functions, and technology. Regardless, these new engines add more horsepower and better fuel economy, giving the Escape a much-needed boost to the car’s lackluster performance credentials.
To satiate buyers’ demand for amenities, Ford gave the new Escape enough rugged capability with available all-wheel drive and standard technology to continue to dominate the segment. SYNC Connect, SYNC 3, and FordPass led Ford’s introduction of the 2017 Escape; these features give the Escape class-leading connectivity. Ford’s new SYNC Connect system allows you almost total control of the car and works in conjunction with FordPass. This allows you to lock, unlock, start, locate, schedule remote starts, check fuel and oil levels, and schedule maintenance all via smartphone. “SYNC Connect provides the convenience customers want,” said Don Butler, Ford’s executive director for Ford Connect Vehicle and Services. “It was designed with the customer as the focus; everything the technology does is intended to improve the vehicle-owning experience.”
In addition to the technology designed to make ownership and life easier, Ford added more driver assistance features to make driving safer in an ever more distracted environment. The Escape now features adaptive cruise control with collision warning and pre-collision braking, enhanced parking assist, lane-keeping assist, and a driver alert system that detects signs of fatigue and will provide a warning in the instrument cluster and a vibration through the steering wheel. As in other vehicles equipped with similar functions, some of these are intrusive and become annoying, especially the lane-keeping assist, which is programmed too aggressively for our taste.
The Escape is the company’s second best-selling vehicle behind the almighty F-150, but it is engaged in a fragile balancing act with Ford attempting to stay on top as competition in the red-hot market expands. Consumers want more technology and a lower price, but they also want the same reliable, safe, and competent light utility vehicles they’ve come to expect from Ford. The 2017 Escape does its job exactly as consumers expect and delivers on all fronts. In that regard it is an absolute success.
2017 Ford Escape Specifications
|Price:||$ 23,600 (base est)|
|Engines:||2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve inline-4/245 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 275 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm; 2.5L DOHC 16-valve inline-4/168 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 170 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm; 1.5L turbo DOHC 16-valve inline-4/179 @6,000 rpm, 177 lb-ft @2,500 rpm|
|Layout:||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD/4WD SUV|
|EPA Mileage:||22-23/27-30 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H:||178.1 x 72.4 x 66.3 in|