I had the opportunity to spend a week road testing the new 2018 Ford Escape, and not just any Escape – I had the Titanium edition! This is a multi-faceted SUV that constitutes a serious option in the compact utility segment. Here are some of the strong and less-strong points that made themselves manifest during my week behind the wheel of one of Canada’s top-selling utility models across all categories for the past several years.
No doubt about it, the Escape is a nice-looking compact SUV. To my eyes, it looks good on the road and its proportions are nicely-balanced. You feel as if the vehicle was designed with the right focus on the uses families will make of it. The Titanium version shown here rides on 19-inch black alloy wheels that come with the Sport Appearance package; with it you also get a number of black exterior accents here and there.
For sure these elements enhance the visual appeal of the Escape, although, if you think about it, this might not be a top priority for those shopping for a compact SUV in this price range. It’s precisely because the 2018 Escape met my driving expectations that I would probably bypass these esthetic add-ons. I even wonder if this Sport Appearance package isn’t forcing things where it doesn’t need to. I almost prefer the model in its more-natural state with chrome elements. But that’s a question of taste, obviously. What really matters are the driving experience, space and cargo capacity, versatility, comfort and reliability!
First thing I did once I climbed inside was to look at the various comfort elements. Now, I’m not a true-blue fan of the blue oval brand, but I found little or nothing to complain about! This Titanium Escape’s interior, almost all of it decked in leather, is not only attractive but well designed as well. There’s no shortage of space, and the power-adjustable sport driver’s seat (included in the Sport Appearance package) coddles the body.
The configuration of the central console provides easy access to all the commands, and standard infotainment systems are plentiful. The dashboard is split into two levels: the upper part has the navigation screen and all of its related commands, while in the lower section you find the buttons for the climate control system. It’s all very clear and concise! The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are really well-presented in the 8-inch touchscreen integrated into the upper part of the dashboard. The many different safety systems ensure smooth and worry-free driving, while the power sunroof draws sunlight into all parts of the cabin. The inside of the 2018 Ford Escape is definitely a nice place to spend time!
The SUV also provides proper cargo capacity for a vehicle of its dimensions and vocation. I was looking forward to using the hands-free (foot-activated) power hatchback, but could never get it to work, alas! Not sure if my tester was deficient in this respect…
The 2.0L turbo engine embedded in my test vehicle is certainly one of the better choices available in the segment. I found it performed adequately in all situations, including when accelerating. The Escape’s performance inspires confidence, which is quite satisfying. The 6-speed automatic transmission comes with a manual mode that I barely used other than to test it. Personally, I’m not sure that that feature serves much of a purpose in a model like this, especially as its automatic gearbox works perfectly well.
As for fuel consumption the Escape falls into the “meh” category – not great, but not terrible either. I happen to do a lot of highway driving between home and work, and I came up with an average of 10.2L/100 km. This is ok, but the fact is some other, larger SUVs are able to do better. Still, the Escape is undeniably fun to drive. The suspension makes life comfortable for occupants, in fact it does this better than many others in the category. Reliability, of course, is a question only longer-term owners of the model will be able to discern. I mention this because the Ford Escape has amassed one of the weaker reliability ratings in the segment (when measuring owner satisfaction and rates of complaints over the years).
In my view the 2018 Ford Escape Titanium is a choice that won’t force compromises on buyers looking for a contemporary-looking but not overly flashy small-family SUV. This vehicle delivers a positive driving experience and fulfills its mandate as a utility model by offering ample space and cargo capacity, comfort and advanced technologies.
Given the choice I’d opt for the Titanium version, which starts at $38,189 with the 2.0L EcoBoost engine and all-wheel drive, but I’d probably skip the Sport Appearance package, especially as it adds another $1,200 to the price tag. Keep in mind that the 2018 Escape is available in several less-costly versions that are worth considering as well:
S – Starting at $25,199 (MSRP)
SE – Starting at $27,449 (MSRP)
SEL – Starting at $29,199 (MSRP)