By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.9
Compact SUV buyers don't lack for choices, so it's telling that so many continue to flock to a new Ford Escape. Like many of its competitors, the 2016 Ford Escape offers 5-passenger seating and a healthy dose of utility, but it does it with an added measure of style, engine options and high technology that many of its competitors can't touch. Beyond a choice of two different turbocharged engines – one of which puts out 240 horsepower – there are high-tech features like a tailgate that's activated by simply waving your foot under the rear bumper. While other compact SUV models cost less, and others offer more interior space or better fuel economy, the 2016 Escape continues to cover all the bases.
If you want your compact SUV to offer high style, good handling, solid fuel economy and a compelling blend of features, the 2016 Ford Escape could be just the ticket.
KBB Expert Ratings
Along with a new Cold Weather Package and available leather seating for SE models, the 2016 Ford Escape is the debut vehicle for Ford's improved Sync 3 infotainment system.
While the Mazda CX-5 may be the sportiest compact crossover SUV on the block, the 2016 Ford Escape isn't far behind. With Euro-sleek looks backed up with...
... Euro-inspired ride and handling, the Ford Escape is unlikely to leave drivers wanting, especially when equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 240 horsepower. Yet even the smaller 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine offers sprightly performance, thanks in no small part to the fact that it shares a lot of its underpinnings with the similarly sporty and fun Ford Focus. Slip behind the wheel of a new Ford Escape and you'll find a ride that's firm, but still comfortable enough, and a high-style interior that's easy enough to use once you get used to it. Note that the Escape is louder inside than the Subaru Forester or Honda CR-V, but that's mitigated by the Ford's superior overall driving experience, and plethora of electronic upgrades.
Ford has heard the criticisms and is debuting an all-new version of its infotainment system on the 2016 Escape. Known as Sync 3, it replaces MyFord Touch (yay!) with a simpler, more straightforward interface that promises improved ease of use and installable apps.
While we admit that the hands-free liftgate on the 2016 Escape is a bit of a parlor trick, the ability to simply wave your foot under the bumper and have the hatch open is "utility" with a capital "U."
With an array of textures, colors, lines and buttons, the 2016 Ford Escape interior is pretty busy. However, once you get used to the style, you'll find that things are pretty easy to figure out from an ergonomic standpoint. Helping things along in high-line models is Ford's new Sync 3 infotainment system. The front seats are comfortable but on the narrow side, and the rear seat and cargo area are both notably lacking compared to competitors like the Honda CR-V. Offsetting that is the available panoramic moonroof, not to mention the excellent Sony audio system.
The original Escape looked like the box a cooler car would have come in. Maybe it was this version, as the Escape now is easily one of the most stylish compact crossover SUVs you can buy. We like the look of the HID headlights, dual-chrome exhaust tips and big 19-inch wheels on upper-tier Escape models. Despite its high-tech reputation, the Escape lacks things like forward-collision alert or adaptive cruise control feature, both of which are available in the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V. On the other hand, it offers rear cross-traffic alert, and it can even parallel-park itself.
The basic 2016 Ford Escape S comes with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission powering only the front wheels (FWD). However, it also comes with a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/aux sound system, Ford's Sync infotainment system (not the new Sync 3, though), and air conditioning, audio and cruise controls on the steering wheel. It also includes the parent-friendly MyKey system, and a full complement of airbags and electronic safety features. However, if you want alloy wheels and body-color exterior trim panels, or all-wheel drive (AWD), you'll have to start higher in the model tree.
If you're willing to spend money, you can load up a new Ford Escape with tons of options and features. A loaded 2016 Escape Titanium can include a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, AWD, leather seats and a panoramic moonroof, Ford's new Sync 3 infotainment system, the no-touch liftgate, big alloy wheels, HID headlights, and Ford's self-parking feature. While you could get an Acura RDX for the same money, but you wouldn’t have as many fun features to play with.
2016 Ford Escape buyers can choose among three different engines, unique in the compact SUV class. Base models come only with a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, front-wheel drive, and the 6-speed automatic common to all Escape models. However, we recommend planning your Escape at the mid-level SE trim, where you'll find the excellent 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder, which not only offers 10 additional horsepower, but gets better fuel economy as well. Optional on SE and Titanium models is the 240-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder, which makes the Escape a hot-rod relative to its competitors. Note that the 2.0-liter EcoBoost also offers 3,500 pounds of towing capacity, but the tow package eliminates the clever hands-free tailgate option. All-wheel drive is available with the 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter engine.
168 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
170 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway mpg: 22/31 mpg
1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
178 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway mpg: 23/32 mpg (FWD), 22/30 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
240 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway mpg: 22/30 mpg (FWD), 21/28 mpg (AWD)
A 2016 Ford Escape S starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) at just under $24,000 including the $895 destination charge, but we suggest stretching to the better equipped SE, starting about $26,000 with the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. Titanium models start at just over $30,000 with the 1.6-liter engine. The 2.0-liter engine adds about $1,200 to an SE or Titanium, and AWD adds another $1,750. A fully loaded Escape Titanium with all the trimmings will exceed $38,000; that's luxury territory, and several thousand more than a Honda CR-V, but we have to admit the Escape is a very nicely equipped compact crossover SUV. Unfortunately, the Escape's resale value is at best average, far behind the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester compact SUVs. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid.