Jasper, Alberta – “Be Unstoppable.” That was the slogan Ford Canada’s Marketing Plans Manager for SUVs, Greg Watkins, used to open his presentation on the 2017 Ford Escape. It’s a great Rah-Rah battle cry for his Ford colleagues to embrace, but it’s also an apt one for the runaway success of the company’s compact SUV.
Originally on sale 16 years ago as a 2001 model, the Escape has become an unmitigated sales success for Ford. Last year, 47,000 new Escapes found homes in Canadian garages, making the compact ute the best-selling vehicle Ford offers behind only the F-150 pickup truck. It’s no wonder they seem to be everywhere – they are!
There’s good reason for all those sales, too. Not only is the Escape available across a wide spectrum of drivetrain and trim levels, it’s also well-built, having earned a JD Power and Associates #1 spot last year in the segment for initial quality.
Plus, the Escape is a handsome little devil, which never hurts on the showroom floor either.
With Ford’s research predicting a continued upward trajectory on SUV sales (by 2020, it’s expected that 40% of all new vehicle sales will be SUVs), they’re taking the refresh of their most popular SUV very seriously.
On our drive from the Calgary airport to Jasper National Park and back again (just over 900 km in 24 hours), my driving partner and I often had a hard time spotting the differences between the numerous examples we encountered of last year’s Escape and the new model we were driving. A keen eye is required, to be sure. From the front, the Escape has been made to resemble its bigger brother Edge, while the rest of the body has been nipped, tucked and generally given some cosmetic updates.
Inside, Ford has listened to consumers and relocated the shifter to open up some much needed cabin storage, nooks and crannies. The glove box now opens in a way that creates a little bin whether opened or closed, preventing the collection of detritus most of us accumulate from spilling all over the passenger footwell.
Aside from that, and a new look for the steering wheel, if you liked the aesthetic of the Escape’s interior last year, you’ll still like it this year – virtually nothing else has changed. There are a few niceties added, mind you, like a heated steering wheel on Titanium and SE trims, and improved active safety features like lane keeping assist, but the 2017 Escape is a prime example of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.
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Considerable attention has been paid to further arrest noise and vibration levels in the Escape, with increased insulation, better seals and new acoustic glass. These elements combine to create what Ford estimates to be the quietest cabin in the segment. Our drive reaffirms that both wind and tire noise are surprisingly quelled, and engine noise is reasonable for this class of vehicle.