2014 Ford Escape: Enduring crossover leads the pack

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Now in its 15th year and second year of its third generation, the 2014 Ford Escape remains a versatile compact sport utility vehicle or crossover. It’s among Ford’s five SUVs.

Since its redesign in 2013 and its highest-selling year (nearly 300,000 units), Ford didn’t mess with a good thing for 2014. The only changes include the addition of a rearview camera and navigation Sync system as standard on all trim levels.

Additionally, the highest-level titanium trim no longer gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine as standard and the SEL trim was discontinued.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Every vehicle segment has increasingly intense competition, including compact crossover market. The Ford Escape is grouped in a particularly strong category. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Santa Fe and Subaru Forester all have loyal buyers and all are worthy choices.

The 2014 Ford Escape has sleek exterior lines.
The 2014 Ford Escape has sleek exterior lines. Images © James Raia/2014

The Escape, particularly since its 2013 redesign, holds up to any of its competitors and, depending upon a buyer’s choice, it could lead the entire pack.

My test vehicle was the top-line Titanium edition. The Escape is also available in S and SE trims. Standard equipments lists on new cars are extensive. The Escape is no different.

The base S model features an integrated blind-spot mirror, MyKey parental controls, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, the Sync voice command electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack. Options a remote start, roof rails and rear parking sensors.

The SE trim offer automatic headlights, foglights, a keyless entry keypad, privacy tinted glass, an eight-way power adjustable driver seat (with power lumbar), reclining rear seats and satellite radio. Its convenience package adds nearly two-dozen items, leather seats to 18-inch wheels to a power liftgate and a navigation system.

The Titanium edition easily approaches equipment overload. It include the low trim levels’ features and the option packages and adds ambient interior lighting and a Sony 10-speaker sound system. Options include a Titanium Technology package (xenon headlights, blind-spot monitoring/cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers and an automated parallel-parking system), 19-inch alloy wheels and the panoramic sunroof and navigation system.

I drove the Escape equally in city and highway situations. The Titanium edition features a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 240 horsepower and all-wheel drive. It powered up hills with ease.

The high-end Escape is among the most comfortable compact SUVs I’ve driven. It turns smoothly and handles more like a car than a SUV. In many instances in other SUVs, I’ve felt the “tip-over” effect while cornering. That wasn’t the case in the Escape. It handles superbly.

I like the exterior and interior design. The tailgate seems tucked on and looks aerodynamic. The interior looks upscale and is made from quality material. The leather seats are upscale quality, and the front and back seats are immediately comfortable.

Likes:

Powerful EcoBoost engines.

Compact-car handling.

Spacious interior, most notably the back seat.

Five setting heated seats.

Overall comfort.

Quality exterior paint with attractive color . . . sunset metallic (burnt orange).

Dislikes:

Radio and other infotainment controls are not intuitive.

Super sensitive motion detector system.

Facts & Figures: 2014 Ford Escape

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.0 seconds.
Airbags (7).
Fuel economy: 21 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway), 24 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission
Government Safety Ratings: NHTSA, Overall score, four out five stars; Front crash: driver, four stars, passenger four stars; Side crash: front seat, five stars, rear seat, five stars; Rollover, four stars; IIHS, Frontal offset, good; Side impact, good; Rear impact, good; Roof strength, good.
Horsepower: 240.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $30,850.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.ford.com.
Price As tested: $35,030.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“The 2014 Ford Escape compact crossover SUV combines sporty good looks with cutting-edge technology, appealing engine options and a high fun-to-drive factor.” — AutoTrader.

“The 2014 Ford Escape is one of our favorite small crossover utility vehicles, thanks to athletic driving dynamics, an inviting cabin and useful high-tech features.” — Edmunds.

“With last year’s total makeover, the 2014 Ford Escape compact crossover SUV became one of the segment’s leaders in styling, fuel efficiency and forward-looking technology. Shoppers may look elsewhere if their top priorities are low price and sheer interior space, but the 2014 Ford Escape is a must-see for everyone else.” — Kelley Blue Book.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“From its styling to comfort to power to strong freeway gas mileage, it’s no wonder the Ford Escape has endured through the years. It does a lot of things right and doesn’t do anything poorly.”

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