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2014 Ford Escape: Breakaway Success

By Sue Mead, December 7th, 2013

With good looks, good fuel economy, a good price, and appealing features, the Escape hands-down attracts new buyers, as it is one of Ford's top-selling models.

Manufacturer photo: A key signature technology of Escape is the hands-free liftgate, which allows quick and easy access to cargo with a gentle kicking action
Manufacturer photo: A key signature technology of Escape is the hands-free liftgate, which allows quick and easy access to cargo with a gentle kicking action

The four-door compact crossover SUV gets new upgrades for 2014. The Escape now has Ford's hands-free power liftgate and Class II towing package as a bundled package. The Escape comes in three trims starting $22,700, plus $895 destination and delivery charges.

Ford's Escape is available in 2WD and 4WD versions, with a choice of three engines, seating for five, plus 32.4 cubic-feet of cargo room in the rear, which expands to 68.1 cu.-ft. when the second row is folded.

New for 2014 is SYNC with available APPLink and new standard upgrades: a rear camera on all trims; four-way manual passenger seat; full leather seats on the Titanium edition and 18-inch sparkle nickel-plated aluminum wheels; plus two new exterior colors of Sunset Metallic and Karat Gold.

The Escape shed its boxy shell and now wears the rounded, curvy look of a stylish crossover. It's 10 percent more aerodynamic -- and Ford's active grille system helps regulate air flow to augment aerodynamics.

Manufacturer photo: A key signature technology of Escape is the hands-free liftgate, which allows quick and easy access to cargo with a gentle kicking action

The front is dominated by a wide, split-level grille that is capped by slanted cats-eye headlamps. The sleek body has strong shoulders that are balanced by a back end that is tailored with body-colored bumpers and flanked by dual exhaust pipes.

The "hands-free" optional liftgate is activated by motion sensor technology used in today's video game systems; a gentle kicking motion under the center of the rear bumper unlocks and activates the liftgate to raise when the "kicker" has the Escape key fob, opening the back -- which we find to be a thoughtful aid when your hands are full! The same kicking process closes the hatch.

Inside the Escape, we found a quiet, comfortable, functional and premium cockpit, with clever cargo stowage and a bevy of useful technologies. Among a number of innovations are the use of recycled plastic bottles in the floor carpets and Kenaf (a renewable tropical plant) treated as insulation material in the doors. Designers have carved out more leg room and space for gear, with rear seats that have push-button, fold-flat capability, and an optional two-position load floor that can accommodate extra luggage.

SYNC with MyFord Touch telematics voice command system has menus that can be accessed through steering wheel controls, touchscreens, buttons and knobs; its central operating unit is tucked deep into the center stack in the dash, giving it a video game-like look.

The standard engine in the Escape is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 168 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of torque; it is EPA-rated at 22/31 mpg. The optional engines include a 1.6-liter and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged motor. The 1.6L delivers 178 horses and 184 lb.-ft., while the bigger turbo produces 240 hp and 270 lb.-ft. The larger turbo's mileage is pegged at 22/30 (2WD) and 21/28 city/highway (4WD).

Manufacturer photo: A key signature technology of Escape is the hands-free liftgate, which allows quick and easy access to cargo with a gentle kicking action

All engines are mated to six-speed SelectShift automatic transmissions that allow manual gear selection. A specially engineered torque converter aids in improved driving feel, silky-smooth shifts and betters fuel economy.

Ford's optional Intelligent 4WD system uses sensor inputs to steer the vehicle in the direction the driver intends it to go. Intelligent 4WD adds and subtracts torque as needed through an electromagnetic clutch. This means Escape delivers competent handling on good pavement and in traction-compromised conditions as well, along with excellent traction on dirt and off-road tracks. Escape's independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering help keep things stable on the road.

We drove the 2014 Escape at Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds on handling courses and got updates from engineers. Notable is the Intelligent 4WD that kept it on course in hard corners, under strong power. Also impressive are Escape's EcoBoost engines with independent variable camshaft timing that boosts torque to a 7 percent improvement in peak power and a 5 percent improvement at low-speed torque, which translates to better acceleration, as well as passing and merging performance, when on the highway.

A host of technology additions are available on the 2014 Escape. Active park assist is a push-button system for helping with parallel parking -- it automatically manages steering while the driver manages the gas and brake. There's also a blind-spot information system that activates an alarm when the vehicle moves into a blind spot; curve and torque vectoring control help manage speed around curves. Escape comes with four-wheel discs with ABS

Specifications

Base price $27,300 (as tested: $28,195)
Curb weight 3,684 lbs.
Displacement 1.6-liter
Epa mileage rating 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 15.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 178 at 5700 rpm
Motor type 16-valve turbo 4-cyl. w/SMPI
Overall length 178.1 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 184 at 2500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger 4WD compact CUV
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