Winner By a Foot
Here’s the philosophical question for the week: Is it wrong to love a vehicle because of just one feature? I will be the first to admit I was skeptical when Ford announced it was adding a foot-activated “hands-free liftgate” to its Escape models. Then I spent a week in a 2016 Ford Escape with the feature—and I’m sold. All of the usual tasks, Costco runs, grocery store trips and on and on, suddenly became so much easier. By the end of the week I was wondering why all hatchbacks didn’t have this feature.
But enough about my obsessions. Wasn’t this great technology embedded in a car? It was, and the current version of the Escape probably could stand on its own merits, even without the hands-free liftgate (note sarcastic tone). Seriously, there’s a reason the Ford Escape is the second best-selling (after the untouchable F-Series pickup) model in the truck lineup, running neck-and-neck with the best-selling member of the car line—the Fusion. The 2016 Ford Escape epitomizes the versatile vehicle that appears to be defining this generation:
- thrifty at the pump (30+ mpg),
- capable around the home (able to haul five people and tow up to 3,500 pounds),
- powerful enough to take you where you want to go (with an optional 240 horsepower four-cylinder EcoBoost engine), and
- full of technology (besides the hands-free liftgate, it has blind spot detection and active park assist.
Let’s run through those critical attributes.
Fuel Economy in the 2016 Ford Escape
Years ago, Ford offered a hybrid version of the Escape, but with the advent of the EcoBoost engines the hybrid was dropped. Ford figured out it could get hybrid-like fuel economy by downsizing
and turbocharging its engines. The current Escape comes with three four-cylinder engine options—the base 2.5-liter that delivers 168 horsepower, a 1.6-liter EcoBoost that delivers 178 horsepower and the top-of-the-line 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine in our test Escape. With direct injection and turbocharging, the 2L packed 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque in its compact form. In our four-wheel-drive it promised 22 mpg city/ 28 highway/ 23 combined. In the 2WD model it would hit 30 mpg on the highway. The mpg champ of the three engines is the 1.6-liter, which is EPA-rated at 32 mpg highway, but all three engines deliver a good balance of power and economy, all on regular gas.
In my week in the Escape I was able to average about 27 mpg so highway running was definitely in the 30s. Cruising on the highway is something the Escape seems to enjoy.
The transmission that accompanies all three engines is a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic. The power reached the ground via optional 19-inch nickel-painted aluminum wheels and the 235/45-19 tires. Suspension in the Escape is a front independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar and twin-tube hydraulic gas shocks and an independent multi-link rear with stabilizer bar, progressive-rate springs and monotube gas shocks. Stopping power comes from power four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock brake system (ABS).
Why You Buy an SUV
At this point it should be clear to anyone following the auto industry that sport utility vehicles or crossovers are well-beyond the fad stage. They remain popular whether gas prices are low or high because they’re functional. They work; they do work; they help us live our lives a little more easily. We may not need them every day or even every week, but we do need them. The high-roof Escape plays to all the strengths of this segment. It has 34.3 cubic feet of storage behind its back seat and a whopping 67.8 cubic feet with the second seat folded down. Like most of the inhabitants of this segment, the driver and passengers sit high for a commanding view of the road. Unlike some of its competitors, the 2016 Ford Escape offers excellent visibility, which is augmented with technology such as its optional blind spot detection system, rear view camera, reverse sending system and active park assist, which does all but parallel park the vehicle itself.
Towing with the Escape is exceptional for the smaller end of the crossover segment. With a Class II Trailer Tow Package, the 2L we drove could tow up to 3,500 pounds. Part of that package includes trailer sway control that can keep control by applying the brakes or reducing engine torque.
The technology standard or optional on the Escape is representative of what is becoming more commonplace among models at all levels. The blind spot warning system was subtle (just a small
lighted dot in the mirror), but effective. In addition to the ample display screen (which acts as a touchscreen but also will respond to voice commands) in the center console the Escape also shows key information directly in front of the driver between the tachometer and speedometer.
Ford’s updated Sync 3 communications system and a 10-speaker Sony audio system are standard on the top-of-the-line Platinum model. The car also has the capability of automatic software updates over Wi-Fi and can integrate an iPhone into car’s native software.
And then there’s the foot-activated rear liftgate. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. It’s a $495 option on the SE model and standard on the Titanium.
The 2016 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD we drove was a pre-production model, but the retail prices are as follows:
Escape S – $23,100
Escape SE – $25,300
Escape Titanium – $29,505
Destination charges are $985 on all models.
Safety & Warranties
The 2016 Ford Escape we drove had the company’s on-demand all-wheel-drive system. It can react to sudden road surface changes and deliver power to the wheels with the best traction. The Escape also features Curve Control, a system that can reduce the vehicle’s speed whenever it senses its speed is exceeding the conditions. It’s part of the cars AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control) and is standard on all 2016 models.
Seven airbags are standard on the Escape, including a driver’s knee airbag and side-curtain airbags in the rear. The 2016 Escape took home four stars in the NHTSA 5-Star safety ratings.
Warranties on the 2016 Ford Escape are:
Basic bumper-to-bumper – Three-year/36,000-mile
Powertrain – Five-year/60,000-mile
Corrosion Perforation – Five-year/Unlimited-mile
Roadside Assistance – Five-year/60,000-mile
Conclusion – 2016 Ford Escape Platinum 4WD
Compact sport utilities sell well because they work well in the real world. The 2016 Ford Escape delivers 30+ mpg, plenty of power from its EcoBoost engine and a liftgate you can open with the
wave of your foot. Outfitted in Platinum trim it has touches of luxury and abundant technology that can aid driving pleasure and enhance safety. With optional all-wheel-drive, the Escape has go-anywhere capability. The top-line engine package offers great towing for a small, four-cylinder vehicle.
There’s a lot to like in the Escape (and we’ve noted that when we tested the previous year’s models), but it also has some serious competition in this class, including the Chevy Equinox, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Mazda CX-5. Check them out below.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.