The 2018 Ford Escape is offered in S, SE, SEL and Titanium trims, with three different engines and with most models offered with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Base S models are only offered with front-wheel drive, and they come with a 168-horsepower, 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. The SE comes standard with a 181-horsepower, 1.5L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, while a 2.0L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that makes an impressive 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque is optional for all models except Titanium.
All models come with a SelectShift 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. Several technologies help the Escape not only tackle slick road conditions but also improve cornering. Curve Control and Torque Vectoring Control help improve stability, while the new "Intelligent" 4-wheel drive system in 4-wheel drive models uses sensor inputs to actively act to maintain stability, utilizing an electromagnetic clutch system to send power to the wheels where traction is needed most.
Although off-roading isn't how most Escape buyers will use the SUV, it can handle gravel roads and modest forest trails just fine; and when properly equipped, it can tow up to 3,500 pounds. On all models, 4-wheel disc brakes provide strong stopping power, while an electric rack-and-pinion steering system is precise and well-weighted.
The Escape's rakish design doesn't get in the way of interior space either. The model has supportive bucket seats in front with a good view out, as well as space for three across in back. There's a generous 34.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the back seat--thanks to a low, 2-position cargo floor -- and that can be expanded to 68.1 cubic feet by flipping forward the second row seatbacks.
Escape S models come with a generous list of features for a base model, including air conditioning, Sync voice command, Bluetooth connectivity, remote keyless entry, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, a 6-speaker audio system and a rearview camera system. The SE model adds upgraded exterior trim, a center console with armrest, dual chrome exhaust, a keyless entry keypad, Sirius Satellite Radio compatibility, fog lamps, upgraded upholstery, a 10-way driver's seat, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Finally, the top-of-the-line Titanium comes with remote start, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, silver roof rails, a 10-speaker Sony stereo, Sync 3 infotainment system, a media hub with SD card reader and video inputs, a garage-door opener, 18-inch alloys, rear parking sensors and heated side mirrors.
Sync 3, which is also optional on the SE, is a Blackberry-based touchscreen system for connectivity and infotainment that allows the pairing of a smartphone or media player for phone calls, music, navigation and vehicle settings all through the touchscreen, steering wheel controls or voice commands. It responds to pinch and swipe gestures much like smartphone and tablet screens, for easy navigation.
An active park assist system will "see" a parallel parking space and actually steer the vehicle into the spot while the driver modulates the accelerator and brake. The BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert prevents accidents by helping the driver spot other unseen vehicles. An available hands-free tailgate system only requires that the drive 'kick' their foot under the rear bumper.
Stronger Performance And Better Handling Than Other Small Affordable Crossovers
Excellent "Sync 3" Infotainment And Connectivity
Excellent Fuel Economy
The Ford Escape receives some minor updates for 2018 adding a new SEL trim that features amenities like leather seats, a power lift gate, and an 8-inch infotainment system that works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Titanium now comes exclusively with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine.
The 2018 Ford Escape is a sleek, rakish, modern design, yet it is surprisingly roomy inside. Also surprising is how well the Escape responds and handles -- as if it were a sport wagon. The Escape's turbocharged powertrains are standouts in this class, offering more power than you get elsewhere, plus excellent fuel economy. In terms of tech features, between the "Sync 3" infotainment system, an active park assist system and active-safety features like BLIS, the Escape stands far apart from more plainly presented crossover wagons.