Ford's sturdy Escape compact SUV arrives for the 2017 model year with a heavy refresh oriented toward safety upgrades and lower-displacement engines.
Structural changes in the vehicle have improved the Escape's crashworthiness. The compact SUV raised its performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small overlap front crash test to "acceptable" from "poor."
To achieve this rating, Ford reinforced the driver door hinge pillar and modified the front-end structure. The changes result in a new face with a hexagonal grille and reconfigured front lighting placement. The nose appears a bit higher than the outgoing model.
Ford has also added new optional driver-assist technologies, including an active parking assist system that handles perpendicular as well as parallel parking. Other new options include a lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with automatic braking.
Much hay has been made about the vehicle's two new turbocharged four-cylinder engine offerings, including 1.5L and 2.0L options on the SE and Titanium trims, that will complement the naturally aspirated 2.5L carryover that powers the base S model.
We tested the Escape SE powered by the 1.5L EcoBoost. The engine delivers power through a 6-speed automatic transmission to a four-wheel-drive system.
The turbo-charging adds punch to the 2017 Escape, and helps you maneuver a bit better on lane changes or when climbing freeway ramps and other modest inclines.
The new engines include automatic stop-start that Ford expects will improve fuel economy by 6% in stop-and-go driving. So that will be a plus for fleet fuel budgets.
The Escape also arrives with impressive technology offerings, including the redesigned Sync 3 that's more intuitive than earlier versions. You can connect the 2017 Escape with FordPass, a new mobile app that helps you to locate the car in a parking lot, check fuel and fluid levels, start the engine, and lock or unlock the vehicle remotely. The app also includes feature that allows the driver to summon help from a Ford Guide for roadside assistance or finding a parking space.
Ford sold more than 300,000 Escape SUVs in 2015, and the compact SUV has been a steady fleet seller in recent years. The 2017 Escape should continue that trend. The 2017 Escape starts at $26,850, while our tested model would retail for $31,725.
Originally posted on Automotive Fleet