A facelift is thrown around somewhat derisively when used to refer to a person or a car. It’s pretty much plastic surgery either way, but it’s sometimes necessary for improvements.
The changes to the 2017 Ford Escape shown at the LA Auto Show weigh heavily on the cosmetic side, but also include some functional changes to a popular compact crossover.
Still, with so many 2016 Escapes around, is it worth holding out in the hopes that newer is actually better?
Most noticeable is, well, the face of the new Ford Escape. At a glance, the Escape now looks a lot more like the larger and more expensive Ford Edge crossover, and it’s arguably a welcome upgrade over the outgoing front fascia. But overall, it isn’t my favorite design, partly because it looks like the front and rear ends came from two different cars. It’s subjective, however.
Things are also “facelifted” under the hood. While the base four-cylinder engine remains the same, most Escapes will get a new turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder Ecoboost engine, which replaces a similarly sized engine in the 2016 models and should make a comparable 180 horsepower. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 245 horsepower will also be available in the new model. For 2017, the 1.5- and larger 2.0-liter engines get a standard Auto Stop-Start system, which cuts the engine off when you’re stationary in order to achieve better fuel economy. Ford pegs a 4-6 percent improvement over the outgoing Escape’s fuel economy.
Stop-start systems are common in premium and luxury cars, where they have mixed results in both aiding in fuel economy and disrupting the driving experience. We’ll have to drive the 2017 Escape to see how this addition has affected the car.
Perhaps the biggest improvement that was needed in the Escape was already made for the 2016 model year. The new Sync 3 system replaced MyFord Touch in mid-to-high trim Escapes, bringing in a simplified interface for changing radio, climate and navigation functions, as well as cutting down on some of the lag when making adjustments to those systems.
In the ‘17 Escape, Sync 3 is joined by Sync Connect, according to Ford, which uses an app on your smartphone to unlock and lock the car, start it and locate it. Vehicles like the Chevrolet Equinox and Hyundai Tucson have similar capabilities.
Other controls in the Escape are easier to use in the 2017 model, while a redesigned center console offers more space for storing items like wallets and phones. There are various tweaks here and there, but nothing that will make a current Escape driver feel out of place.
If you’re a tech buff, the 2017 Escape will be worth the wait when it arrives next year. But aside from a small increase in fuel economy, simplified controls and revised trim pieces, there isn’t a lot to steer bargain shoppers away from Ford Escapes that are already on dealer lots. If you’re in the market for an Escape and you like to walk out with a big savings, take a look at the existing models.