$15,788 - $22,909

2017 Ford Escape Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Ford Escape was new.


Performance: 8.5

The 2017 Ford Escape is one of the most nimble compact SUVs on the market. Its base engine has unimpressive acceleration and is thirsty for gas, but its optional turbocharged engines are strong and fairly fuel-efficient. That makes the Escape an engaging SUV to drive, provided you spring for one of the turbo models.

  • "As a whole, compact SUVs aren't particularly exciting or engaging to drive, which is how the outgoing Escape distinguished itself, providing sophisticated ride and handling plus powertrains that favored performance and punchiness over pokey, fuel-saving numbness. In the 2017, incremental updates improve on those characteristics." -- Cars.com
  • "Dynamically, the 2017 Escape retains its familiar, well-sorted blend of compliance and control regardless of wheel/tire fitment." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "We couldn't really autocross the thing, but it is more fun to drive than arch-competitors like the Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4." -- AutoWeek

Acceleration and Power

The base 2017 Ford Escape S trim comes with a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. The SE and Titanium trims have a 179-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The top-of-the-line 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is a $1,295 option.

Acceleration is OK with the base engine, but it gets disappointing fuel economy for the class. The base Escape gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. By way of comparison, the Honda CR-V gets 26/33 mpg city/highway and the Toyota RAV4 gets 23/30.

The 1.5-liter engine is a much better choice, with stronger acceleration and better fuel economy: 23 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway.

The 2.0-liter is even livelier, and only gets slightly lower fuel economy than the 1.5 (22/29 mpg city/highway, which still beats the base engine's fuel economy). The strapping 2.0-liter model also has one of the best towing capacities of any compact SUV: 3,500 pounds.

Both the 1.5- and 2.0-liter engines come standard with a new stop-start system that helps improve fuel economy by shutting off the engine when the vehicle stops moving. Unlike in some vehicles, the system works seamlessly, so you won't even notice the engine cycling off and on. Both the 1.5- and 2.0-liter engines are available with all-wheel drive.

  • "We found plenty to like, however, with the 179-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that comes standard on SE and Titanium models, which replaces the former 1.6-liter turbo. Extremely quiet and smooth, the 1.5 accelerates to freeway speeds with acceptable gusto, even with three adults aboard. Nice as it is, though, we'd happily spend another $1295 to put the heavily revised 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo four under the hood. With output increased to 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque-from 240 hp and 270 lb-ft in the pre-refresh model-the gutsiest Escape's more authoritative acceleration comes with a mere 1-mpg penalty in the EPA's combined fuel-economy rating compared with the 1.5." -- Car and Driver
  • "Both of the Escape's turbocharged engines come with new stop-start technology for 2017, a fuel-saving measure that even luxury cars struggle to perfect. The Escape's stop-start feature is one of the smoother implementations out there, so seamless that I didn't feel the need to immediately defeat the feature at startup as in so many other vehicles." -- Cars.com
  • "The base 2.5-liter engine is competent enough, but it's the EcoBoost engines that really make the Escape zip along." -- AutoTrader (2014)

Handling and Braking

The Ford Escape remains one of the best-handling compact SUVs you can buy, rivaling the Mazda CX-5. The Escape has sharp steering that responds immediately when you turn the wheel. The steering wheel is also easy to turn, so it's both sporty and comfortable to drive on long trips. A well-tuned suspension adds to the Escape's comfort levels, providing a smooth ride while keeping the SUV from leaning when you take a corner.

  • "[The Escape] … was clearly one of the finest dynamic choices in the class after its complete makeover for the 2013 model year, and our stints behind the wheel of three different 2017 vehicles (one SE and two Titaniums) suggest the Escape will continue to happily play tag with the Mazda CX-5 on twisty commuter routes." -- Motor Trend
  • "The Escape's handling has earned good marks for years, and the 2017 holds the line in that department." -- Autoblog
  • "Driving along canyon roads, I enjoyed the Escape's easy and comfortable nature. The reasonably soft suspension didn't allow excessive bounce when going over bumps, nor did it let the car wallow in the turns. The power steering, tuned to hold its center position, offered a comfortable amount of resistance. It felt at once responsive, communicating my input to the steering immediately, but also comfortable for long highway miles." -- CNET

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