REVIEW: 2017 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD – The High Price Of Power

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The 2017 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD is a mid-trim compact crossover with a very powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. What makes this particular Escape intriguing is the high price tag that comes with that engine upgrade.

What is it? 

The Escape is Ford’s second most important vehicle after the F-150 pickup truck. The reason it is so important is that it is playing in the largest vehicle product group by sales, the compact crossover segment. Ford’s Escape has to be good, just to compete, and it is. However, our test vehicle pushes the boundaries of safety, price and fuel economy in a segment where many shoppers start with those things in mind.

Pricing and trims

Like many of Ford’s products, the Escape line is very broad. There are three trims, three engines, and Escapes can come with either front or all-wheel drive. With a low starting price of just $24K, a glance at the Ford Escape buyer’s page gives owners hope for an affordable family vehicle. However, add in some accessories and the price quickly approaches $40K

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Our 2017 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD had a price tag of $37,045, and we would consider it relatively well-equipped, but Ford makes one blunder in the content department we explain below, in this review’s Seating section.

Safety

Our Ford Escape Titanium 4WD was equipped with a forward collision prevention system, blind spot monitoring, and a backup camera and backup sensor array.

Included in the Escape’s safety suite is adaptive cruise control. This may seem like a premium option, but it is now standard on the RAV4 and the Subaru Forester offers trims under $30K with this technology.

The Ford Escape is the only high-volume compact crossover we can think of that is not a Top Safety Pick Plus-rated vehicle by IIHS. And Ford didn’t miss that rating on a technicality. The Escape could not score Good on the small frontal overlap test (something almost every U.S. market vehicle now aces) and it is also not equipped with Advanced or Superior-rated forward collision prevention, but rather a system IIHS rated “Basic.” For family shoppers considering safety a top priority, this could be a problem.

Performance

On the other hand, those buyers for whom an abundance of power is a first priority may want to start with the Escape Titanium equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.

With 245 peak horsepower, the Escape Titanium has more power than one needs in a small crossover. Unfortunately, it is also too much power for the Escape to handle. Torque steer is apparent when starting off briskly. Surprisingly, we even felt the engine’s torque tug the wheel to the side when we were on the highway and the adaptive cruise control was manning the throttle. A slow-moving car we had been following had moved out our lane, which cleared the path for the cruise control to work back up to our higher speed setting. The Escape downshifted and provided a surge of power that tugged the wheel hard enough that we needed to steer to remain in the lane. That IIHS “Basic” rating came back to mind.

Ford still uses a geared transmission in the Escape, in the case of our tester, a six-speed. Fuel economy seems to be hurt by the combination of relatively few gears and the power output of the “Ecoboost” engine. Rated at just 23 MPG combined, the Escape Titanium is a world away from the class-leading (and turbocharged) Honda CR-V, which has a 29 MPG rating. Over ten years, this will cost an Escape Titanium owner $3,000 more on fuel according to the EPA (at today’s low fuel prices). To be fair, a Subaru Forester with its 2.0-liter turbo is a better comparison. It earns a 25 MPG rating with more costly premium fuel.

Ride and handling

The Escape Titanium 4WD offers a nice balance of fun and comfort. It is not harsh over bumpy roads, but still turns in nicely. On curvy back roads, it is an enjoyable vehicle to drive. The 19-inch wheels with all-season tires look good, but we found that in the snow the relatively wide, low profile tires were more like skis. Any shopper planning to own this car in a snowy state should consider winter rubber in their budget.

Seating

The front seats of the 2017 Escape Titanium are cloth with leather just at the edges. We could not get past this and felt it let the vehicle down. Every competitor offers full leather or another premium material on the seats at this price point. Since leather is part of the trim, even those opposed to leather for animal-rights reasons can’t be happy.

The cushion of our 12,000-mile tester also seemed to have been worn, and we felt like we were tipping off the seat, particularly during right-hand turns. Contrast these seats with the leather covered ones in the $30,870 Escape SE we tested earlier in the year, of which we said, “Hands-down, these are the best seats in any compact crossover this writer has tested. They are supremely comfortable and still manage to provide just enough support in cornering.” Ford has seats that are excellent for the vehicle but didn’t put them in.

The rear seats of the Escape offer good room for passengers. With 37.3 inches of legroom, the Escape compares favorably to one of the largest compact crossovers, the Nissan Rogue, which has 37.9 inches of rear legroom. There is no third-row seat option in the Escape, and only the Rogue offers one in the segment.

Cargo

Ford’s Escape offers ample cargo room. Even compared to the larger Nissan Rogue’s 39 cubic feet behind the second row, Ford’s 34 cubic feet seems large in person. Under the floor is a compact spare tire.

Infotainment and controls

The Ford Escape Titanium comes with the Sync 3 system and an eight-inch touch screen. It is very simple and intuitive in operation. We loved the Pandora App with full functionality and the sound quality of the system rivals anything from any premium brand’s compact crossover we have tested. Our test vehicle had optional navigation which we found a welcome addition.

Overall

The 2017 Ford Escape Titanium would not be our pick of the Escape lineup. Rather, we like the Escape SE trim, which we said leads the entire segment in three important ways. At $37K we feel the Escape Titanium lacks the specialness that its peers offer in that price range.

One parting note to those thinking that the compact Lincoln MKC crossover is “the same as the Escape for a few dollars more.” It is not. Our test fleet has an MKC Black Label edition. That Lincoln (which has similar dimensions to the Escape) has a price tag of $57,895! Ford and Lincoln seem to be testing the limits of pricing in this hot segment. We wish Ford luck, but unless our perceptions are wrong, the prices of these Ford products are not in line with the family-focused mission of the compact crossover.

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2017 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD

Base price: $23,600

Price as tested, $37,045,  including $895 destination charge:  

Options:

Ruby Red Metallic Paint: $395

2.0-Liter Ecoboost Engine: $1,295

Panoramic Vist Roof: $1,495

Adaptive Cruise Control: $595

Navigation: $795

Titanium Appearance Package: $725

Likes:

  • Strong Engine
  • Sync 3 Infotainment
  • Built In Lousiville, Kentucky

Dislikes:

  • Pricing is High
  • Seats Don’t Compare Well – Even to Less Expensive Escapes
  • Tires Trade Appearance For Function

 

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John Goreham

John Goreham