Motoring: Escape the ordinary with Ford SUV
Ford Escape is no ordinary SUV, which will keep drivers smiling.
However, since Ford and Mazda are not as chummy as they once were, when time came to do their new small SUVs, they went their separate ways.
Mazda came out with the CX-5, which is a vehicle that handles wonderfully and is a practical, sensible vehicle for a small family. However, it is not fast. The CX-5's lack of speed ruins the whole vehicle for me because it feels like a chore to keep it moving, especially on the highway. I hope Mazda will rectify this issue.
Ford, however, seems to have had their thinking cap on when they did the new Escape, especially when it comes to power. Since Ford is offering three engines for the new Escape, chances are you'll find one that suits your needs.
The base engine is a normally aspirated 2.5-litre, inline fourcylinder engine that produces 168 hp. Next step up is a turbo-charged 1.6-litre motor, also an inline four, and this unit produces 173 hp. Those who really like moving can opt for the turbo-charged 2.0-litre, inline four that produces 231 hp.
While the base engine comes only in front-wheel drive layout, the other two motors can be had as either front-wheel drive or with allwheel drive.
Regardless of the engine you pick, the only transmission on offer is a six-speed automatic, which, while smooth, is not the quickest shifting automatic in the business.
In the last few months, I have driven all the models of the new Escape, but have spent most time with the 2.0-litre turbo model.
This is an impressive SUV to drive around in the city. It has plenty of get-up-and-go, and since I had the all-wheel drive model, the traction was fantastic, regardless of the road surface or what the weather was doing.
I really like the steering feel of the new Escape. It is the perfect blend of soft and firm and it encourages you to push the vehicle in the corners — not a common trait with small SUVs.
So far so good then, but it is not perfect. While the new Escape is wonderful for driving around in the city, on the highway it is not great, and the main reason behind that is noise. While Ford has done admirable work with soundproofing most of their vehicles, I find the Escape has a bit too much road noise and wind noise to make it comfortable on a long highway run. It also drinks too much on the highway, as on a straight highway run I only managed 10.0 litres/100 km, which is poor.
Also poor are the seats. While they are fine for short drives, they are not the greatest for when you have to spend roughly two hours at a time in them.
The rest of the interior is just fine. There is plenty of space both front and back and it has a pretty big cargo area as well, which you can access by just waving your foot under the rear bumper (provided you have the key on you, of course).
The layout of the dashboard is a bit unusual, but it looks good and you'll get used to using it in no time.
Unusual is also a good word to describe its styling. It is certainly different when compared with what's the norm in this segment and I applaud Ford for that. This new Escape looks good and it seems that the buying public is taking a liking to it as I've seen plenty of these new Escapes on the road.
Its wide range of pricing can also be an attractive factor. The base model is yours from $21,499, while a fully loaded model with navigation, leather seats and a panoramic sunroof can easily sticker at over $40,000.
So is the new Escape the best vehicle in its category?
Not quite, but it is much better than a lot of its competition and if you're shopping for a new SUV/CUV, the Escape is worth a closer look.