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There are such a lot of thrilling issues occurring at Ford proper now. The tough and tumble Bronco arrives this yr, following the launch of the tiny-tough Bronco Sport. There’s now an electrical Mustang SUV. Heck, the F-150 is a dang hybrid with an inverter so beefy that it will possibly energy a whole home. So the place does that go away different merchandise, just like the Escape?

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Robust acceleration from 2.0-liter EcoBoost engineSync 3 has wonderful voice command and smartphone connectivityTop notch driver-assistance and parking tech

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Inside feels a contact cheapOdd ergonomics

The 2021 Ford Escape isn’t a very thrilling journey, even loaded up in Titanium trim with its most potent EcoBoost turbocharged engine. It is only a tremendous and comfy commuter with broad attraction. Unable to get by on taking part in to feelings and hype, the common-or-garden Escape is confronted with, in some ways, a a lot more durable job than its extra spectacular stablemates: to promote itself on practicality and worth alone.

I suppose you’d get used to it, however discovering the Escape’s tucked away Begin button was my first problem.

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EcoBoost with AWD

The very first thing I discover concerning the Escape? The oddly positioned engine begin button. It is crammed into a bit of nook behind the steering wheel and practically unimaginable to see from the driving force’s seat with out craning my subsequent and contorting my wrist. Not a great ergonomic introduction. 

Thankfully, that button fires up a potent little engine: Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Paired with an eight-speed computerized transmission, the Escape accelerates with stunning eagerness and has a really responsive throttle. I might say the Escape 2.0T has a few of the finest get-up-and-go within the compact crossover class.

Cease-start fuel-saving tech helps the EcoBoost 2.0T obtain an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon metropolis, 31 mpg freeway and 26 mpg mixed — numbers which might be unchanged from final yr’s estimates. Throughout my highway-heavy 294.6 miles of testing, I averaged 28 mpg even.

Escape patrons can go for a smaller, 1.5-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine with 181 hp, in addition to 200-hp hybrid and plug-in hybrid fashions. The entry-level 1.5T — which we drove final yr — is essentially the most inexpensive trim and doubtless a greater apples-to-apples match with the likes of the non-hybrid RAV4 and CR-V when it comes to energy and effectivity. The electrified fashions are essentially the most environment friendly variants of the Escape, averaging 41 mpg with the standard hybrid and providing a further 37 miles of electrical cruising vary with the plug-in.

With normal all-wheel drive and three,500 kilos of towing capability (when geared up with the trailer tow bundle), the two.0T can be essentially the most succesful model of the Escape; lesser engine choices solely permit it to tow 1,500 kilos. Dealing with and braking really feel about on par with the remainder of the small SUV class — extra people-mover than canyon-carver — so do not anticipate to be blown away by the Escape’s efficiency.

The Escape options a number of driving modes that will help you fine-tune the SUV’s conduct, starting from sporty to thrifty, however I discover it is annoying to toggle between these settings. There’s just one button and it cycles by means of the Escape’s 5 drive modes — Regular, Eco, Sport, Rain and Snow. So whereas going from Eco to Sport is one faucet, getting again to Eco or Regular takes 4 or 5, assuming you do not by chance faucet too rapidly and overshoot it.

The bigger EcoBoost engine will increase the Escape’s towing functionality from 1,500 to three,500 kilos.

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Creature comforts

On the skin, the Escape’s smoothed-over design is sort of car-like and approachable. The dimensions is sweet for straightforward city parking and, from the driving force’s seat, the SUV boasts fairly good visibility in all instructions. My instance contains a hands-free energy liftgate that opens easily and rapidly with a kick beneath the bumper.

Inside, Ford’s designers tried to create a premium really feel with a bunch of fake exposed-grain wooden and, on my Titanium mannequin, leather-trimmed seats. Except for the aforementioned begin button, the dashboard and console controls really feel properly positioned. Nonetheless, the wooden appears to be like actually faux whenever you give it a more in-depth look. Plenty of the cabin supplies — just like the onerous plastic door playing cards and simply scratched decrease sprint — really feel low cost. 

Ford makes up for this with just a few stable tech options. B&O badges point out premium sound offered by high-end audio producer Bang & Olufsen. Sound high quality is above common to my ear, however not audiophile stage. A digital instrument cluster with separate themes for Sport and Regular driving performs good nature-inspired animations on startup and shutdown. Additionally elective is a visor-style head-up show that rises from the highest of the instrument cowl. I might desire HUDs be projected instantly on the windshield, however any HUD is best than no HUD in any respect.

The Escape’s cabin is good, for those who do not look too carefully.

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The principle occasion the place tech is worried is the Sync 3 infotainment system. Its software program is nicely organized and its characteristic set checks the entire proper bins, with USB connectivity, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa integration, Bluetooth and satellite tv for pc and HD radio tuning. Voice-activated navigation has been an indicator of Sync since its inception and continues to work nicely right here, with wonderful natural-language recognition for addresses.

The Escape additionally options Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 Help, a regular suite of driving support options, together with pre-collision help with computerized emergency braking, lane-keeping help, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Stepping as much as the Titanium trim — or optioning Co-Pilot 360 Help Plus — provides adaptive cruise management that works in stop-and-go visitors and traffic-sign recognition, each of that are new for 2021. The Plus improve additionally consists of lane-centering steering help and a characteristic known as Evasive Steering Help which works in live performance with the emergency brake help to assist drivers to steer round obstructions.

As all the time, Ford’s Lively Park Help — now in its second era — continues to be exceedingly competent and at occasions simpler to function than parking it your self, requiring only a single button press to enter parking mode whereas the automobile handles steering, shifting and braking.

Robust Sync 3 infotainment makes up for a few of the cabin’s shortcomings.

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It is tremendous and that is OK

The 2021 Ford Escape begins at $26,130, together with a $1,245 vacation spot cost, for a base 1.5T S mannequin with front-wheel drive. Totally optioned, the two.0T AWD Titanium tops out at $40,820 — curiously, a skosh greater than the loaded Hybrid Titanium’s $39,435.

Possibility the two.0-liter EcoBoost and the Escape boasts a slight efficiency benefit over a lot of this class. Nonetheless, the extra frequent 1.5-liter mannequin lacks that benefit and the newly up to date Nissan Rogue, the Kia Seltos and Toyota’s RAV4 change into threats with extra comparable on-road manners and barely higher inside high quality. The Kia, for instance, is way cheaper than the Ford when comparably geared up. The Escape’s tech continues to be high notch — notably its one-button parking expertise — however that is not as a lot a bonus because it was once now that the competitors has caught up throughout this newest era. On the different finish of the spectrum, the Subaru Crosstrek and Ford’s personal inbound Bronco Sport attraction to drivers on the lookout for extra off-road utility of their small SUVs. 

The 2021 Ford Escape is not essentially the most thrilling factor Ford makes proper now, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a really competent participant. As a quantity vendor, it is an important mannequin to Ford’s backside line.

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