I had a road trip planned with my 11-year old son for the upcoming weekend. A travel swim meet to Virginia Tech; about 500 miles round trip. You always want a good car when you get a chance to spend a lot of miles in it. When I found out I would have the 2017 Ford Escape SE, I was pretty excited. I haven’t had much time in Ford’s Escape, so I was excited to be able to take it on a road trip. One of the most common questions people ask me when they find out I’m an auto journalist is what SUV should I buy. The most common question is what is the coolest car you have ever had and the other is have you ever wrecked one.
It was a beautiful fall day, 55 degrees and sunny when we got on US 81. I set the Ford’s adaptive cruise control to 70 mph, fired up Oceans 11 on the iPad for my son, and off we went. I don’t always get long road trips to test out cars so its really nice when I have over 500 miles to spend in a car. We hit traffic right away so I really appreciated the adaptive cruise control. It kept me at the appropriate distance from the car in front of me and managed the heavy traffic reasonably well. Without it, I would have been changing lanes and constantly working the gas and brake pedals. These new adaptive cruise systems are real game changers.
There are a lot of different types of adaptive cruise control systems out there and some are better then others. All of the systems I have tested manage distance between cars and accelerate and slow down about the same. The biggest difference in most systems is how slow the system will allow the car to get before it shuts off – with some systems working at any speed up until the point the car actually stops. In the Escape, the Adaptive Cruise stops working around 30 mph. I prefer systems to work at slower speeds. After a while we got in some pretty heavy stop-and-go traffic that at times was slower then 30 mph. Because the system shuts off below that speed, I wasn’t able to use the system as long as we were going below 30 mph. Luckily it didn’t last long so I reengaged the system and we were cruising smoothly again.
The Ford Escape was first introduced in 2001 and has become one of the best-selling vehicles in its class. In 2015, Ford sold a record 306,492 Escapes in the U.S. making it Ford’s number 2 selling vehicle behind the F-Series, the country’s best-selling vehicle line for 34 straight years.
The Escape has been significantly updated for 2017, both in the interior and the exterior. Interior changes start with a new push-button electronic parking break. By removing the large hand-actuated parking brake and moving the gear-shifter rearward, Ford was able to open up the front console area significantly and provided increased access to the center stack. Ford has added a media bin under the center stack with a USB port and covered power outlet. Improved cupholders, two new storage bins and a larger center armrest have also been added. The steering wheel is all-new which includes very easy to use buttons for audio and climate controls.
Exterior changes start with a redesigned hood and raised grill giving the Escape a more rugged, off-road capable persona. New technologies have also been added to the 2017 Escape, including, adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, SYNC Connect which allows owners to use the FordPass smartphone platform to start, lock, unlock and locate their vehicle, enhanced active park (which allows automatic steering assistance to park in a parallel or perpendicular parking spot or pull out from tight parallel parking spots), lane-keeping system which alerts the driver when unintentionally drifting out of a lane as well as steering assistance to guide the vehicle back into its lane, and Driver Alert System which uses data from the lane-keeping system to detect signs of fatigued driving and providing a warning on the instrument cluster.
The 2017 Escape SE base price is an extremely reasonable $25,100. So when you are evaluating the car, you have to keep this in mind; a small SUV at an entry level price. So I was prepared to have to give up some things that I’m used to having in my vehicles and probably have to make some sacrifices. I wanted to know what these sacrifices would be and whether they would be so significant that I couldn’t recommend the car. I had a feeling there couldn’t be too many, otherwise how could it be Ford’s second highest selling vehicle line?
The color on my Escape was amazing – Ford calls it Magnetic Metallic. It has the darker grey hue of a magnet – I thought the color was spectacular. The inside color came in a light stone grey which was a nice accent to the exterior. I will say I found the interior to be a bit basic, but it was functional and useful so I didn’t get too bogged down with it. At a base price of $25,000, you aren’t going to get double stitched leather on the dash or burled walnut.
I had the $1,295 upgrade for the 2.0L Ecoboost engine which is Ford’s 4 cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged engine that puts out 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. This is a powerful little engine and I found the Escape well powered with it. Acceleration on the highway was quick and I didn’t find it lacking for power, even on some of the hills we hit when we got further south.
My Escape had the Equipment Group 201A option which adds $1395 to the price and adds blind spot monitors, reverse sensing system, 8” LCD touch-screeen, 110 volt power outlet, nine speakers, dual power adjusted exterior mirrors, reverse sensing system, two smart charging USB ports, Sync 3, roof rack side rails, and sync connect. The leather Comfort Package added another $1595 to the total wrapping the seats and steering wheel in light stone colored leather – a must for any car in my opinion. The power liftgate adds $495, voice activated touchscreen nav system adds $795 and the 18 inch aluminum wheels adds $595. With total options adding an aggregate $6,170 to the base price the 2017 Escape SE ends up selling for a very reasonable $32,165 (with a $895 destination charge).
On any road trip you tend to look at mileage a little closer. Ford tells you that the Escape equipped with the 2.0L Ecoboost engine will get 22 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway and 25 combined. Our total road trip was 539.4 miles of mostly highway driving with a little bit of city once we made it to VA Tech. We averaged 26.2 mpg. That’s pretty good mileage for an SUV.
After the road trip I spent some time in the Escape around town doing the things I tend to do in town. It was plenty large enough for several trips to the grocery store. It fit my boxer Rosie just fine as well as my family of four. On the one occasion when we had to bring a friend she fit in the middle back seat fine and was not terribly uncomfortable. The road trip and all of the in town errands showed me that a family of four can manage just fine with a small SUV. And, by the way, its fits in my garage. And puts an extra $25,000 – $50,000 in my pocket. I’ll take that any day over a huge, full sized SUV.