2016 Ford Escape

Starting MSRP: $23,100 - $29,505

Estimated MPG: 22 city / 31 hwy

2016 Ford Escape Review

The 2016 Ford Escape is the latest version of the compact SUV that Ford introduced in 2001 to compete in a then-new segment. The Escape became a global vehicle for Ford, as well as the automaker’s most successful product next to the F-Series pickup. Now in its third generation, the Escape is seen as a sales and innovation leader for Ford, as it stands among the top sellers in one of the hottest segments in today’s automotive marketplace.

By Randy Stern
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The third-generation Ford Escape has been around since the 2013 model year. The 2016 Escape seats five and comes with a choice of three gasoline engines. It’s offered with front- or all-wheel drive and three trim levels: S, SE and Titanium. For 2016, the biggest change is the introduction of Sync 3, which replaces the MyFord Touch infotainment system available in earlier models.

Exterior

Exterior
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Ford’s “Kinetic” design language gives the 2016 Escape a distinct personality. The front end is unlike any in its class with a large lower grille and a narrow upper grille that’s flanked by two headlamps. The fog lamps (if equipped) and turn signals appear very discretely on the corners of the front fascia, while the silhouette and rear end stand out with distinctive lines and sculpting. From the rear, the Escape still looks fresh after a few years of sales.

The base Escape comes with 17-inch steel wheels, while 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels are standard on SE and Titanium models, respectively.

SE models also add privacy glass to the rear windows, while roof rails, a power liftgate and a panoramic moonroof are available.

Interior

Interior
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The Kinetic design language continues inside the 2016 Ford Escape with shapes, textures and controls that are distinctly Ford. The instrument binnacle has a sharp look and function, even with a small thin-film transistor (TFT) information screen crowning the gauge cluster. There is more than enough information available on trip, fuel economy and vehicle functions.

The steering wheel is also distinctly Ford, with its various wheel-mounted switches and controls. An available infotainment screen commands the center of the dash, which cascades down to the climate controls and center console.

Storage is adequate with a deep center binnacle under the arm rest and a couple of cup holders on the console itself. The shifter is positioned slightly away from the driver and at a 45-degree angle.

Seating is comfortable up front, with acceptable support from the cushion and seatback. An available power-adjustable driver’s seat offers more flexible options for rake, recline and height than the standard manually adjustable seat found in the base model. Drivers and front seat passengers will get a lot of headroom and a very large windshield for optimal forward vision. The second row looks thinly padded, but offers decent comfort. Headroom and legroom is pretty good in the rear, and the second row is designed to offer a flat-load floor when lowered to accommodate more cargo.

With the rear seat up, there is 34.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding the second row expands the cargo hold to a maximum of 67.8 cubic feet. Load-in is at an adequate height, and there is a hands-free power liftgate available to make cargo access easier.

Performance

Performance
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The Escape is offered with three engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 168 horsepower, a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower.

Choose the 1.6-liter turbo and the Escape can deliver up to 23/32 mpg city/highway. All of these engines are connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. The base 2.5-liter engine is available with front-drive only, whereas both turbo engines can be ordered with all-wheel drive.

Our test Escape had the 2.0-liter turbo engine, which was quite powerful and paired well with the smooth-shifting transmission and all-wheel drive system. As tested, the 2016 Escape with the 2.0-liter turbo and all-wheel drive is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

The Escape’s ride quality is extremely smooth. Its suspension absorbs imperfect road surfaces and keeps everything on track on gravel roads. Handling is controlled, though there was some roll in the corners. Steering is quick, with good response from the wheel and sharp turning action. Braking is very good with strong stops in both normal and panic situations.

Technology

Technology
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The 2016 Ford Escape comes standard with a USB port, Bluetooth, smartphone app integration and Ford’s voice-activated Sync system. Available options include the new Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, as well as a Sony audio system, satellite and HD Radio, navigation and proximity key with push-button start.

The big news for 2016 is the introduction of Sync 3, which replaces the MyFord Touch infotainment system that was found in earlier Escape models. 

Sync 3 offers quicker connections and easier set-up than before. A task bar at the bottom of the screen provides access to audio, climate, phone, navigation, apps and system settings. Certain smartphone apps can be controlled though the touch screen or by using voice commands.

Safety

Safety
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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2016 Escape top ratings of Good in all crash tests except the small overlap front test, where it received the lowest Poor rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Escape an overall rating of four out of five stars, with four stars in rollover and front crash tests and five stars in side crash tests.

The 2016 Escape comes standard with a rearview camera, anti-lock brakes and seven air bags, including an air bag to protect the driver’s knees. 

A blind spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert is available, but the Escape is not offered with features like forward collision warning, lane departure warning or adaptive cruise control.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The base Ford Escape S comes with front-wheel drive and the 2.5-liter engine. The base price for this model is $23,100 before an $895 destination charge. Our test Escape SE with all-wheel drive, the 2.0-liter turbo engine and several options came to $31,875 after destination. The top-of-the-line Escape Titanium starts at $29,505 for a front-drive model.

The Escape starts at a similar price to competitors like the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V, though models like the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester will save you some money if you’re comparing base models.

Overall

Overall
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The popular Ford Escape has plenty of company in its class, including the Toyota RAV4 and Chevrolet Equinox. This class also includes the aforementioned CR-V, Tucson, CX-5, Rogue and Forester, as well as models like the Kia Sportage and Jeep Cherokee.

The Ford Escape is distinctive, smooth and a stand-out model in the crowded compact SUV class. Though some competitors have been more recently redesigned, the Escape still sells extremely well for Ford in a segment that is highly competitive. There is no question that the 2016 Ford Escape still holds its own.