There are so many compact crossovers available right now that it can be hard to choose between them.
They’re known to offer a just-right size and better fuel economy than their bigger cousins, but there are definite differences once you take a seat and spend some time driving.
The Ford Escape SE FWD excels on two fronts. The engine makes it fun to drive, and the Escape has Ford’s new Sync 3 infotainment system, which is a vast improvement over the old system.
The Escape‘s exterior has revised styling that employs lots of curves, instead of the boxy look that makes some crossovers look dated. It’s thoroughly modern and appealing.
Inside, the story is similar, although not quite as fancy as its exterior might lead you to expect. There are three trim levels available, and the Escape SE FWD falls smack in the middle.
This means it doesn’t have leather seats and shiny black interior finishes to make it look more upscale. Seating surfaces are fabric and look more utilitarian than plush.
That’s fine, because they’re comfortable and supportive. The driver gets 10-way power adjustability to dial in the right position, no matter who is at the wheel.
Side bolstering is minimal, even though these are bucket seats, and they’re stiff enough to be supportive on longer trips while still being comfortable. They’re also wide, which is something those with broad shoulders will appreciate. It makes seating feel spacious rather than cramped, despite the interior being that of a crossover rather than a full-size SUV.
Rear seating is also comfortable, though it’s short on leg room. Taller passengers won’t have much room for their knees, but headroom is good. Technically, there’s seating for three in back, but it’s a tight fit. Three kids will be fine, but three adults better be good friends before they squish together.
Our 2016 Ford Espcape SE FWD was powered by the optional 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine with 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. This added $1,195 to the price and it’s worth the cost.
Which brings us to the biggest problem with today’s crossovers, which is that some can’t seem to get out of their own way. It’s as if by going smaller, engineers then assume you don’t really care if the car has any performance. The engineers who worked on the Escape had different ideas.
They’ve created a responsive crossover that easily slides into highway traffic. The Escape also gives impressive acceleration when at speed to pass other vehicles. It’s a fun car to drive and feels not at all like a clunky crossover, but more like a sporty sedan.
Another thing they get right is the transmission. There’s a 6-speed automatic rather than the oh-so-popular CVT. This makes a huge difference in the drive experience.
The transmission in the Escape is smooth and blissfully quiet compared to the average CVT with it’s mind-numbing drone. This means you have a responsive crossover with a quiet ride and compact car handling. Have your cake and eat it, too, with the Escape.
Another area where the Escape gets a gold star is its infotainment. The old Sync system is standard and it’s frankly awful. The optional Sync 3 is a vast improvement offering voice-activated technology, a touchscreen that responds well, and easy switches between navigation, audio, and the home screen. It’s clear, intuitive, and far less distracting than the old system.
Pricing is also a strong point, with the base S trim starting at $23,100 and the top Titanium model coming in at $29,505 for those who want a fancier interior. This gives you plenty of room to equip the Escape and keep it within budget.
In the crush of crossovers in today’s market, the 2016 Ford Escape offers style, pricing, and a drive experience that put it ahead of the rest.
2016 Ford Escape SE FWD
Base Price: $25,650
Price As Tested: $30,985 (not including destination charge)
- Surprisingly Responsive Engine
- Comfortable Seating
- Lots of Hard Plastics
- Short Rear Legroom