Significant design refresh as name change from Kuga to Escape revitalises Ford’s mid-size SUV, explains Cathy Parker.
Refreshed design inside and out makes the renamed Escape a strong competitor in the mainstream mid-size SUV market.
Ford have taken the opportunity to pick up the international Escape branding for the model, matching most countries in the world except Europe.
The name change helps reset the model, whilst technically a facelift, it actually sees major design changes inside and out, a rejig of the model range and some helpful specification changes.
Global programme manager for Escape, Dean Norwicki, commented that “the aim is to make Escape a more comfortable experience for users”. The interior design is much cleaner with the number of switches being significantly reduced, the park brake is now an electric switch and the old gear lever switch for manual override on the auto moving to steering wheel paddle shifters.
The SYNC3 system has an eight-inch capacitive touch display, voice recognition that understands more conversational voice commands and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Sound proofing has been improved and the front doors now have double laminated glass with early users commenting on the noise reduction. Externally the Escape features a new upper trapezoidal grille in the Ford corporate signature style, new rear light clusters and new alloy wheels to set off the changes.
All models now get start-stop engine technology for improved fuel consumption. There are three engines available, the 1.5-litre EcoBoost with 134kW of power and 7.0 l/100km combined economy in the FWD version (7.4 l/100km on AWD), the 2.0-litre EcoBoost with 178kW and 8.6 l/100km combined economy and the 2.0-lire TDCi diesel with 132kW and 400Nm of torque, which delivers combined economy of 5.4 l/100km. All models come with six-speed automatic gearboxes.
A major addition to the range is a mid spec level FWD model – the Trend FWD 1.5, this is becoming a significant sub-section of the medium SUV market which Ford was not participating in previously. The base models are Ambiente trim with 1.5L FWD and 1.5L AWD, Trend has 1.5L FWD, 2.0L AWD and 2.0L Diesel AWD variants, whilst the top of the model tree Titanium comes in 2.0L petrol and 2.0L Diesel versions both with AWD.
Even at Ambiente level you get reversing camera and parking sensors, SYNC3 with Satnav, five star EuroNCAP, cruise control and push button start. Trend adds Active CityStop collision avoidance which now operates at speeds of up to 50 km/h, blind spot monitoring and roof rails. Titanium gains 19 inch wheels, keyless entry, leather upholstery and heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, park assist, lane keeping and a panoramic sunroof.
The park assist will do both parallel and angle parking and will also exit a parallel park. A product walk around of the driver assist technologies demonstrated the number of sensors involved in providing these safety systems which include front radar, lidar and camera sensors plus front, rear and side parking sensors.
Ambiente 1.5L FWD $37,990
Ambiente 1.5L AWD $40,990
Trend 1.5L FWD $41,990
Trend 2.0L AWD $44,990
Trend 2.0L TDCi AWD $46,490
Titanium 2.0L AWD $53,490
Titanium 2.0 TDCi AWD $54,99