The 2017 iterations of Escape, Ford's smooth-riding and easy-driving 5-door crossover utility vehicle for the compact class, get a significant makeover with fresh fore/aft body styling, new materials, and equipment lining the 5-seat passenger compartment, powerful new EcoBoost engine options and a wagonload of available new driver-assist electronic safety systems.
All editions of Escape '17 come together at Ford's Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky and segment into three trim grades -- price-leader Escape S, upscale SE, and top-line Titanium -- with three powertrain options and front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive traction, plus a new Sport Appearance Package for SE and Titanium grades.
The base edition Escape S stocks an economical 4-cylinder engine. With aluminum block and heads plus dual overhead cams (DOHC), the plant displaces 2.5 liters and produces 168 hp at 6000 rpm and a torque rating of 170 lb-ft at 4500 rpm. The 2.5-liter 4-pack links to a 6-speed electronic automatic transaxle with thumb-switch shift controller and earns EPA fuel economy estimates of 21 mpg for city driving and 29 mpg on the highway.
Escape SE offers two optional EcoBoost 4-cylinder plants with turbo-charging and direct fuel injection. Standard is a DOHC 1.5-liter EcoBoost 4-in-line making 179 hp at 6000 rpm and torque to 177 lb-ft at 2500 rpm with a 6-speed electronic automatic rigged with paddle shifters.
Ford's high-powered yet fuel-thrifty EcoBoost engine, a twin-cam 2.0-liter 4-pack with twin-scroll turbocharging, is the standard plant for Escape Titanium or optional for Escape SE and it serves up an estimated 245 hp at 5500 rpm plus torque of 275 lb-ft at 3000 rpm through the 6-speed electronic automatic with paddle shifters.
The 1.5-liter plant nets 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, as the 2.0-liter scores 22/29 mpg (city/highway).
All Escape '17 models carry independent suspension components -- MacPherson struts up front and a trailing blade design in back -- with retuning to deliver car smooth ride sensations for passengers.
Escape foregoes the conventional sport utility vehicle's body-on-frame structure for a monocoque platform which unites chassis and body in a cohesive unit that's extremely rigid when set in motion. The front-wheel-drive chassis is derived from Ford's Focus compact sedan.
A generous wheelbase length of 105.9 inches and a wide wheel track (61.5-inch front/61.6-inch rear) set up a long and broad foundation that contributes to Escape's stability when maneuvering on a curvy road.
With the EcoBoost engines, Ford adds the option of all-wheel-drive traction using a smart traction system which distributes the engine's power between the front and rear wheels selectively via an electromagnetic clutch -- the intent is to maintain a firm tire grip no matter what happens on pavement or dirt.
Fresh body styling appears aerodynamic yet rugged with a strafed hood and aggressive prow capped by a 6-sided grille with chrome-clad fins, squinty corner headlamp clusters, taut fender bulges over wheel wells and a crisp tail design with bisected LED lamps and exhaust pipes protruding beneath low fascia.
Escape's wheels are big. Base model S rolls on 17-inch premium painted aluminum wheels capped by P235/55R17 all-season tires while top trims house 19-inch premium painted aluminum wheels with P235/45R19 all-season tires.
The passenger compartment contains sculpted front bucket seats and a 3-seat rear bench split in independent fold-flat sections. The aft cargo bay, accessible via tail-side liftgate, provides 34 cubic feet of stow space with rear seatbacks up but expands to 68 cubic feet with rear seatbacks down.
New standard or available equipment applies to the Escape, Electric parking brake, smart USB jack and 12-volt power socket, Auto Start-Stop, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with brake support. Ford keeps stacking on the standard or available equipment with active park assist, lane-keeping system, Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, hill-start assist, hands-free foot-activated power liftgate, SYNC Connect.
The new Sport Appearance Package for Escape SE and Titanium adds 19-inch Ebony Black premium painted aluminum wheels, halogen projector headlamps with black bezels and LED signature lighting, Ebony Black gloss painted front and rear skid plates, leather-trimmed sport seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Ford sets MSRP figures for 2017 Escape models upward from a base price around $24,500.