2015 Escape New Car Test Drive
Ford Escape is practical and comfortable with a classy cabin and plenty of cargo space. It rides smoothly and has excellent handling. Several drivetrains are available, and buyers should choose carefully because that choice greatly affects the driving character.
Escape comes standard with front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive optional. Escape was redesigned for the 2013 model year and there have been no major changes since.
The 2015 Escape comes in three models: S, SE, and Titanium. Three engines are available, each four-cylinder. Least expensive is the tried-and-true 2.5-liter, but it's also the least powerful and least efficient.
Much more modern are the EcoBoost engines, a 1.6-liter making 178 horsepower and a 2.0-liter that generates 240 horsepower. Their designs differ, but both are twin-turbocharged with direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). We recommend opting for one of them.
We found that a 1.6-liter Escape with front-wheel drive feels completely different from a 2.0-liter all-wheel-drive model. The 1.6-liter with front-wheel drive is quick, lively and visceral, a blast to drive. The 2.0-liter AWD feels solid, heavier, more civilized, more grown-up.
Fuel economy ranges from an EPA-estimated 23/32 mpg City/Highway for a 1.6-liter front-wheel-drive Escape, to 21/28 mpg for a 2.0-liter all-wheel drive.
Inside, creature comfort is impeccable, even with the standard fabric upholstery, rugged and handsome. Interior materials are soft, and the plastic high quality. Rear legroom is decent, at 36.8 inches, and rear climate control is standard in all but the Escape S base model. There's excellent cargo space: 68.1 cubic feet behind the first row and 34.3 cubic feet behind the second row, and the standard 60/40 rear seat folds flat wonderfully fast, using one lever.
An available magic release for the liftgate is handy when your arms are full and you have cargo to load. Kick your foot under the rear bumper, and presto, the liftgate pops open so you can drop your things into the back without having to set them down and fumble for your remote.
The top-level Escape is available with Active Park Assist. By simply pushing a button, the system detects an available parallel-parking space, then automatically steers the vehicle right into it. The driver operates only the gas and brake pedals, not touching the steering wheel during the parking procedure.
The 2015 Ford Escape comes in three models: Escape S, Escape SE, and Escape Titanium. Three dual overhead-cam four-cylinder engines are available. All Escape models use a 6-speed automatic transmission that permits SelectShift manual operation.
Escape S ($23,100) is front-wheel-drive only, using Ford's trusty 2.5-liter engine making 168 horsepower. Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery, manual climate control, manual front seat adjustment, a rearview camera, cruise control and audio controls on the steering wheel, 60/40 fold-flat rear seats, a 6-speaker single-CD sound system with MP3 capability, information display, manual tilt/telescope steering wheel, Halogen headlights, color-keyed grille and door handles, and 17-inch steel wheels.
Escape SE uses the 1.6-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost engine making 178 horsepower, and comes with either front-wheel drive ($25,550) or all-wheel drive ($27,300). SE adds body-color door handles and mirrors, a chrome bar grille, Ford SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment system, satellite radio, automatic headlights, keyless entry, 10-way power driver's seat with lumbar support, rear center armrest, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Escape Titanium comes with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine making 240 horsepower, in either front-wheel drive ($29,510) or all-wheel drive ($31,260). Titanium adds MyFord Touch, full leather-trimmed seating, heated mirrors and front seats, puddle lamps, ambient lighting, remote start, dual-zone automatic temperature control, hands-free power liftgate, color-keyed roof rails, upgraded 10-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio, and 18-inch silver-painted alloy wheels. A Tech option group ($1,495) for the Titanium model includes a Blind Spot Information System, rain-sensing wipers, high-intensity-discharge headlights, and Ford's Active Park Assist.
Titanium models may be fitted with 19-inch wheels ($695). Options include a panoramic vista roof ($1,495), Sony audio system with navigation ($795), cargo organizer, and cargo area protector.
Safety equipment standard on all models includes AdvanceTrac traction and stability control with roll stability control, Curve Control, Torque Vectoring Control, two-stage frontal airbags, driver knee airbag, side airbags, ABS with Brake Assist, tire pressure monitor, and rearview camera. Available all-wheel drive enhances stability in slippery conditions.