2016 Ford Escape
Stronger performance and better handling than other small affordable crossovers; excellent new "Sync 3" infotainment and connectivity; excellent fuel economy; impressive maneuverability; spacious interior
The 2016 Ford Escape is offered in S, SE 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 and Titanium are standard with a 178-horsepower, 1.6L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, while a 2.0L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that makes an impressive 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque is optional.
Both EcoBoost 4-cylinder engines have direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing, (Ti-VCT), which helps produce more power while also being more fuel-efficient. EPA ratings range up to 23 mpg city, 33 highway with the 1.6 liter and 22/30 with the 2.0 liter. An active grille shutter system also helps fuel economy by improving aerodynamics when extra cooling isn't needed.
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.
A Chrome package on SE model adds chrome exterior accents, while the Leather package replaces the SE's cloth seating with leather.
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.
The Ford Escape carries over into 2016 mostly unaltered, though the big change is the addition of Sync 3, a new infotainment system that replaces the old MyFord Touch system of previous years. The system provides a new interface with a capacitive touchscreen. Elsewhere, a Chrome appearance package and a leather package are both available on the SE trim.
The 2016 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 powertrains are standouts in this class, both offering more power than you get elsewhere, plus excellent fuel economy. In terms of tech features, between the new "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.
* EPA mileage estimates and EPA fuel economy methods based on models beginning with
the indicated model year. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models
before the indicated model year. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how
you drive and maintain your vehicle.