The 2014 Ford Escape SE we’re driving this week, arriving in front wheel drive (FWD) format and featuring many of Ford’s new high-tech offerings and some not so high tech, but nonetheless very interesting.
Our 2014 Ford Escape features an enhanced aerodynamic exterior that replaces the prior Escape “boxy” motifs, especially the front end.
Escape not only offers lots of cabin room, it delivers 23 city and 32 highway MPG estimates thanks to a well designed 1.6-liter twin-turbo “EcoBoost” four cylinder engine. This powerplant mates to a fuel friendly six-speed “Selectshift” automatic transmission, which delivers both peppy low range performance and ideal highway economy.
In its advertising promotions, Ford emphasizes that when an end user puts his or her money down for a new Escape, other competitors are still scurrying to bring to market many Ford innovations. As simple as a capless fuel fill tube to the popular and optional “foot under the rear bumper” tap, which automatically opens the rear lift so you don’t have to put your handful of groceries on the ground, Ford is one step ahead. Granted, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to come up with these features, but the truth is no others did. Today, there are many Ford copycats.
I also like Ford’s easy to understand pecking order of automobile model designations, as S, SE and Titanium are easy to remember along the price line. Ford dropped the SEL lines for 2014, while the pony car Mustang and Ford’s larger SUV and truck lines adhere to different designations.
Entry Escape S starts at $22,700, comes in FWD only and is powered by the trusty 2.5-liter four that delivers 168 horses. Our SE tester, however, starts at $25,550 and utilizes the above mentioned twin-turbo EcoBoost engine that produces 178 horsepower. An SE all-wheel drive version is available starting at $27,300, while top line Titanium starts at $29,100 in FWD and $30,850 in AWD. If you are considering Escape Titanium, I recommend also looking at big brother Explorer, where entry starts at $30,015.
Our “no option” middle grade SE tester is identifiable by a chrome bar grille and 17-inch aluminum wheels. Other than that, it is similar to the other Escapes outwardly. Inside, Escape SE offers an outstanding build thanks to quality upholstery, excellent seats and superior ancillary items. Rear passengers will appreciate extra legroom, which is an area that compact SUVs aren’t noted for. Also noteworthy is cargo space, which expands to a 68.1 cu. ft. when the second row is flat thanks to an easy move of one lever. I also like the white number with blue needle gauges and overall dash layout.
Ford’s SYNC voice activation is both a communication and stereo entertainment system, but I find the controls very cumbersome to learn and activate quickly. I’m sure owners will eventually catch on, but I’m an old-time knob and switch guy, so I’m not fond of it.
Some of the standard SE features include halogen headlamps, foglamps, keyless entry, power front seats, 60/40 rear seats, rear center armrest, and much more.
As noted in last week’s Ford Fiesta review, Ford family genes also show through ala Escape’s front end and grille. These family design cues are purposeful, as the similarity and centerpiece Ford blue badge is easy for all motorists to see.
The expected result? “Boy, Ford is sure selling a lot of vehicles.”
And yes, they are.
As for safety, every Escape includes all the airbags, traction control, stability control, roll stability control, curve control and now its new torque vectoring control, the latter an electronic system that activates when a driver enters a curve too fast. Specifically, torque vectoring reduces power and then applies 4-wheel disc ABS brakes if needed.
Additionally, the standard rear-view safety camera is the best safety feature to come along in decades. These cameras can save lives, and reduce or eliminate the number of reverse gear tragic accidents. I feel one day rear safety cameras will be mandated by the government, so non-Ford manufacturers that charge extra for the camera please take note.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.9 inches, 3,502 curb weight, 34.3 to 68.1 cargo capacity, 15.1 gallon fuel tank and a 2,000 lb. tow capacity.
The 2014 Ford Escape is a Test Drive top recommendation and your Ford dealer has some nice incentives waiting.
Likes: Price, economy, turbo power, room, looks, Ford quality.
Dislikes: Sync voice, comfort/entertainment controls confusing.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for BestRide.com and Gatehouse Media publications.