No matter what, when I think Ford, I think of the now outdated slogan, Built Ford Tough…. And I actually had to look up the car maker’s current slogan…. Which is Go Further.
Built Ford Tough sticks with me… for the very good reason that I’ve found pretty much anything from the oval badge brand that I’ve jumped into has lived up to that claim.
The latest rendition of Ford’s new medium SUV, the Escape, continued that pattern when I got behind the wheel recently to put it to the test.
And if you think something can’t be both tough and also extremely good looking – the car that is, not the driver… “I’m not tough” hahaha – think again.
Perhaps it’s the new Escape’s European origins that make is so sleek and sharp but it is one of the best-looking medium SUVs on the market.
The 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine also makes it one of the most powerful among its rivals and it is particularly practical.
It gets up and boogies, is a lot of fun to drive, with particularly sharp steering and even the entry grade model comes with much of the exceptional range of features…. Taking away the digital central instrument cluster and heated front seats.
There are three grades in the Escape line-up. The entry grade is simply called the Escape and lists from $35,990 before on-road costs, then above that is the ST-Line from $37,990, and then the Vignale tops out the range from $46,590. The entry grade only comes in front-wheel drive but if you’re looking for an all-wheel drive then add $3000 to the prices of the ST-Line and Vignale.
Later this year a plug-in hybrid variant will be offered in the ST-Line grade and will cost $52,940. It too will be front-wheel drive only.
While those prices puts the Escape range on the more expensive side of its rivals, there’s relative value in terms of the kit you get in that.
Coming standard on the entry Escape are 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, silver roof rails, an eight-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless phone charger, sat nav, an embedded modem, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, six-speaker stereo with digital radio, and a reversing camera. There’s also a smart key which lets you unlock and lock the doors just by touching the door handle.
The ST-Line has a performance feel to it and adds a menacing-looking black grille, 18-inch alloys, sports suspension, black roof rails, a large rear spoiler and dual exhaust tips. Inside there are sports seats with red stitching, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, a fully digital instrument cluster and metallic pedals.
While the Vignale adds matrix LED adaptive headlights, leather heated front and rear seats, a Bang and Olufsen stereo, head-up display, a power driver’s seat, auto parking and a gesture activated tailgate.
And despite its sleek and smooth lines, it all still feels tough and solid… very much like a shredded athlete…. Or the very active families this model is pitched at.
It’s also rather practical for that family.
Rear leg and headroom is excellent thanks to the ‘scooped-out’ design of the front seat backs.
That second row rolls on rails and locks into place and this means boot space can be contracted and expanded between 412 litres and 526 litres. Cabin storage is great up front with super-sized door pockets, three cupholders and a big centre console box, while those in the rear have two cupholders, but tiny door pockets.
And your devices are front of mind with four USB ports along with a wireless phone charger up front on all grades and two 12V power outlets.
For the stats people who do like to look past the styling and build quality — and that’s important too – the Escape comes with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 183W of power and 387Nm of torque.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a medium SUV on the market with as much go, with little to no turbo lag.
The petrol Escapes have an eight-speed automatic transmission while the PHEV will come with a 2.5 litre engine and continuously variable transmission, commonly known as a CVT auto.
All in all, the new Escape has been Built Ford Tough…. But I reckon Ford can also readily claim they have Gone Further with this one.