2018 Ford Escape: A new trim level and brimming with uplevel amenities

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Ford Escape is the No.2-selling vehicle in the Blue Oval arsenal, and after being significantly updated for the 2017 model year, the 2018 Escape adds a new trim level, but remains essentially the same as last year.

Six years into its third generation, Escape, a small SUV that debuted for the 2001 model year, offers a new SEL trim level that features leather-trimmed seating, power liftgate, heated exterior mirrors, signature LED lighting, SYNC® 3 with a SYNC Connect eight-inch display and reverse sensing system. The SE trim series gets front heated cloth seats, roof side rails and perimeter alarm. Escape Titanium (my test vehicle) gets a 2.0-liter EcoBoost® engine, navigation system, enhanced active park assist and high-intensity discharge headlamps.

Packed with standard amenities, all Escapes come with infotainment, power systems and tech. Among the standard installed items are an Easy Fuel® capless fuel filler, LED taillamps, power sideview mirrors with integrated blind spot mirrors, MyKey®, power windows and door locks, steering wheel-mounted cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering column, six-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission and intermittent front and two-speed rear wipers.

The 2018 Escape continues in its compact crossover footprint at 178.1 inches in length, 66.3 inches in height and 72.4 inches in width on a 105.9-inch wheelbase. Minimum running ground clearance is 7.9 inches and Escape has a curb weight of 3755 lbs. for its 2.0-liter powerplant and 4WD. When properly equipped, Escape can tow 3500 lbs.

Escape’s engine choices include the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter iVCT inline-4 engine that delivers 168hp and 170 lbs-ft of torque with sequential multiport electronic fuel injection. For the economy minded, a direct-injection 1.5-liter EcoBoost® I-4 with Auto Start-Stop is available, rated at 179hp, with 177-lbs-ft of torque. My test Escape Titanium was powered by a turbocharged direct injection 2.0-liter Twin-Scroll EcoBoost® inline-4 with Auto Start-Stop that supplied 245hp and 275 lbs.-ft. of torque on premium fuel. EPA ratings are 21mpg in city driving and 29mpg on the highway for the 2.5 in FWD configuration; the 1.5-liter EcoBoost® is estimated at 23/30 in FWD and 22/28 in AWD; and my test 2.0 liter EcoBoost® was rated at 20/27 in AWD. A week of mixed-use tests including long interstate drives, and a few soft-road excursions, averaged 24.9mpg.

Escape is a small SUV that acts like a car on the road. Steering, balance and acceleration are carlike. The rack-and-pinion steering with electric power assist is attentive and dependable and the MacPherson front struts with stabilizer bar and twin-tube hydraulic gas-pressurized shocks work well with an independent double lateral link rear suspension with semi-trailing arms, stabilizer bar, linear-rate springs and monotube hydraulic gas-pressurized shocks to level road imperfections. The ride is not a luxury-smooth experience and the cabin can be noisy at times, but for the niche and for soft-road activities, Escape presents a gentle driving experience.

My 2.0-liter engine was muscular at all shift points in all ranges. Passing at speed is predictable and uphill grades are easy play. In Autocross maneuvers, quick acceleration and anticipated soft turning angles make for a fun ride. In speed tests, a zero-to-60mph dash was completed in 7.6 seconds, and a quarter-mile took 15.8 seconds.

Inside, the cabin is a step below luxury, but well-appointed with seating for five. It could be a bit roomier, as tall drivers may feel cramped. Headroom measures 39.9 inches in front and 39.0 in row two. Legroom can be stretched to a maximum of 43.1 inches in row one, while second-row passengers have 37.3 inches. Shoulder room is 55.9 in row one and 55.2 for row two.

Safety is well-addressed with a number of active and passive inclusions. Among Escape’s standard safety and security items are: AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control™; Airbags – Driver’s knee, front-seat side, and Safety Canopy® System with side-curtain airbags and rollover sensor; battery saver, four-wheel disc brakes with Anti-Lock Brake System; child-safety rear door locks; head restraints and three-point safety belts on all five seating positions; illuminated entry system; LATCH – Lower Anchors and Tether Anchors for Children; perimeter alarm; Personal Safety System™ for driver and front passenger with dual-stage airbags; rear view camera; SecuriLock® Passive Anti-Theft System; SOS Post-Crash Alert System™; tire pressure monitoring system (excludes spare) and traction control.

The 2018 Ford Escape starts at $23,940 in S trim with the 2.5-liter I-4 engine, and moves to $25,700 for the SE and its 1.5-liter EcoBoost®. The new SEL trim starts at $28,100 my test Escape Titanium in Cinnamon Glaze paint, started at $32,140 in FWD with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost® engine, Intelligent Access with push-button start, Leather-Trimmed 10-Way Heated, Power Driver and Front Passenger Seats, Remote Start System, Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation System and a 10-Speaker Audio System from Sony®. The Intelligent 4WD System added $1350 and The Ford Safe and Smart™ Package added $1295 for Driver-activated front rain-sensing windshield wipers, Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Collision Warning with Brake Support, Auto high-beam headlamps, BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, Rain-Sensing Wipers (Front Only) and Auto-dimming Rearview Mirror. Splash Guards added $210, and Destination charges of $995 put the sticker-as-tested at $35,990. Lease and purchase incentives are available depending on your region, so check with your dealer.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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