New Escape branding helps Ford refresh their medium SUV, explains Damien O’Carroll.
The medium SUV segment would seem to be the place it is essential to be these days, with the massive boom in sales showing no signs of levelling off.
That, however, did leave Ford looking a bit sick. While they did have an entrant intro category, it was far from competitive, despite it not being all that old
But perhaps more importantly a lot of people simply hated its name.
So to that end Ford has replaced the Kuga with the new Escape. Although “new” is a relative term here, as the Escape is pretty much a Kuga with a new name, a new face and a far, far better interior.
Ford also took the opportunity to add more FWD models to its line-up, but we are not concerned with those today, as what we have here is the top-spec AWD Titanium.
At $53,490, the petrol-powered Titanium is second only to the diesel version in the Escape hierarchy, with both carrying equivalent levels of equipment.
The petrol Titanium is powered by Ford’s excellent 2.0-litre EcoBoost inline four-cylinder turbo engine that produces an impressive 178kW of power and 345Nm of torque. The direct-injection engine is hooked up to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission and Ford claim a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.6L/100km.
While this fuel figure is largely accurate with a decent amount of open road motoring, it does tend to be a bit thirsty around town. But it is still less thirsty than the smaller 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine was in the Kuga, however.
Out on the road the Escape is an effortless performer, thanks to the powerful and flexible engine. It has impressively small amounts of body roll for a tall SUV and the nose tucks nicely into corners, responding sharply and obediently to the nicely weighted steering.
There was actually little to criticise the Escape about on the road, so it is impressive to see that Ford have made the Escape even better.
One area where the Kuga far, far outshines the previous car is the interior. A massive improvement in material quality has lifted the Escape to another level, while the seats are fantastically comfortable and supportive.
The Escape features the latest generation of Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system, this time incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring. This has seen a complete redesign of the SYNC system and it is now a far more intuitive and easy to use system, which is helped immensely by a far faster and more responsive touchscreen.
While the interior quality is massively improved, its design is still somewhat dated and the otherwise-excellent touchscreen’s usability is somewhat compromised by its slightly too upright and slightly obscured by the dash positioning.
Still, none of these small annoyances stop the Escape Titanium from being an impressive package that catapults Ford back up into serious consideration in the medium SUV segment. The high quality interior, strong engine, nimble handling and comfortable ride all score highly, as does the high level of equipment. The Escape certainly should help Ford escape the unfortunate connotations of the Kuga’s name…
Body type 5 door SUV
Engine type Inline four-cylinder petrol
Engine capacity 1999cc
Max power 178kW @ 5500rpm
Max torque 345Nm @ 2000rpm
Fuel consumption 8.6L/100km
C02 emissions 197g/km
Front suspension MacPherson strut
Rear suspension Independent rear
Roof rack Yes
ABS brakes Yes
Stability programme Yes
Air conditioning Dual zone climate
Lap/diagonal belts 5
Satellite navigation Yes
Electric seats Driver’s
Burglar alarm Yes
Boot release Yes
Cargo cover Yes\
Boot capacity 406/1603 litres\
Wheel type 19-inch alloy
Spare tyre Full size steel
ANCAP rating 5 Star