Crossovers have come a long way since their inception back in the 90’s, haven’t they? While an instant hit with western soccer moms to residents of flood-prone Manila, I personally remained a purist, shunning the higher C-of-G, lower power-to-weight ratio, and higher costs that are unfortunate side effects of the Cute ‘Ute Condition. They’re just raised, heavier, more expensive versions of their sedan brethren, right?
"This thing is stacked!"
Thankfully, Ford decided to step in and weave their magic into the segment. Fat rims, fatter turbochargers, and a lean price tag immediately shut down any lingering issues I had with CUVs. To be specific, the latest Escape I got to fling around had 19-inch rims on 235-section tires, an angry 240hp/366nm 2.0 EcoBoost engine under the hood, a very competitive sticker price when compared to rivals, and more silicon brains than your local Apple Store. It even had a tow hook out back as standard. This thing is stacked!
“Parts sharing bin” is usually a whispered negative in auto reviews, an indicator that the manufacturer cheaped out and began reusing bits to lower costs at the expense of quality. This isn’t at all the case with the Escape as while it does inherit quite a few components from stable mates, Ford cherry-picked the good stuff to sprinkle about. Hey, this sound system looks familiar!
Combine that with the most of the same driver aids and creature comforts found in Ford’s larger, more expensive models (blind spot alerts, hands-free rear liftgate, panoramic moonroof, active park assist, and leather everything to name but a few) and one can’t help but feel like Ford has been overly generous when it comes to standard equipment. Nice.
A Sony audio system very similar to the ones found in Explorers make an appearance in the 2.0 model, which along with Ford’s familiar SYNC system make for a very pleasant aural experience which, in my opinion, is an increasingly important feature the worse traffic gets in the Metro.
"There’s plenty of grunt to be had, even at lower revs, with Ford’s always-pleasant 6-speed DCT transmission ably assisting that beefy EcoBoost engine"
It drives well, too. Continuing the mini-Explorer theme, the Escape drives much like the larger Ford. There’s plenty of grunt to be had, even at lower revs, with Ford’s always-pleasant 6-speed DCT transmission ably assisting that beefy EcoBoost engine. I shan’t ever get tired of dual-clutch trannies, nossir! One glaring omission the 2016 Escape has though is the lack of paddle shifters, with Ford strangely opting for a rocker button setup on the shift knob itself. If there’s one complaint I have about this car, it’s this: fumbling for these shift buttons while mid-corner, needing a quick gear change is not a pleasant experience, Ford.
Iffy manual shifting aside though, this crossover does the business in any situation you might find yourself in, be it trudging through heavy EDSA traffic or confidently taking on rainy provincial roads. AWD adds an extra layer of confidence the chassis and sport suspension already provide, with the latter being sprung a bit on the stiff side, but not punishingly so. In fact, it’s set up so tidily that it’s easy to approach the crossover’s inherent limits by driving overconfidently -- at which point the car reacts by issuing stern warnings in the form of crying tires and gentle understeer to get you to rein in that heavy right foot. Alright, I suppose I really am going a bit too quick for these roads.
"this crossover does the business in any situation you might find yourself in, be it trudging through heavy EDSA traffic or confidently taking on rainy provincial roads"
Speaking of heavy right feet, fuel mileage will depend a lot on how lightly you feather the go-quick pedal. Sport mode is another big offender as it excitingly keeps your revs up to keep you in the sweet spot while absolutely nuking your economy figures. On a balanced drive down to our favorite testing grounds I was only able to achieve 7.5km/L; I’m sure more practiced eco-drivers will achieve much better figures but I was still a little surprised at the fuel returns I was getting. The Escape does also come in 1.6 EcoBoost flavor, which is definitely a better choice for those with similarly quick tendencies as I do if fuel consumption is a priority.
That’s pretty much the car’s only downside when it comes to practicality, however. The Escape’s trick hands-free power liftgate opens up to swallow enormous amounts of things, and is an absolute godsend for groceries and shopping trips in general. It’s one of those “why don’t all cars have this?” features that you quickly grow used to and one that gets annoying when forced to live without again.
"The Escape’s trick hands-free power liftgate is an absolute godsend for groceries and shopping trips in general"
And that’s all she wrote, really. The Escape can do just about anything you ask of it, everything from your daily home-school-office-mall route to spirited, ahem, escapes to your favorite weekend destinations, in any weather, day or night. The interior does seem a little gimmicky, and the conspicuous lack of paddle shifters and surprising absence of a rear backup camera are notable demerits, but these are things you’ll most likely overlook considering the Escape’s strong performance everywhere else.
The Escape does face stiff competition in this segment with Subaru, Hyundai, and all the rest offering solid options; however Ford’s blend of cavernous cargo capacity, rain-resistant ride height, gutsy engine, a solid equipment list, and proper pricing all make the Escape a jack of all trades, master of most.
If you're at all looking for a practical, do-anything runabout, you'd be hard-pressed to do much better than the current Escape.