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An Escape, the perfect vehicle to get away from it all — or is it? That is what Ford wants you to believe and the Escape use to be one of the best selling SUVs in Canada and it still is. This year it is trending currently as the third best selling vehicle in it’s class just 30 less vehicles sold than Honda’s CR-V and close to 900 less than the Toyota RAV4.

The Escape is available in a multitude of configurations, giving the consumer more options from base model to loaded than the competition. This does make it confusing for the consumer as well and difficult to compare apples-to-apples. Available with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder, a 1.6-litre EcoBoost or a 2.0-litre EcoBoost in a varied amount of configurations with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

My tester is a 1.6-litre EcoBoost model with all-wheel drive in SE (mid-level) trim. The mid-trim 1.6-litre with EcoBoost starts under $29,000 but it climbs quickly as you add options and features to your vehicle, doing so has upped my testers price tag to over $36,000 before taxes.

Although it may be a little pricey for a compact crossover my tester is well equipped with things like Navigation, a vista roof (full glass roof), leather, heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and more. It is missing some of the high tech stuff that is becoming common place like blind spot detection or lane departure warning. But it does have convex mirrors built into the side mirrors with offer a much improved view of the outside world than without.

Model: 2016 Ford Escape SE
Pricing: $28,999
Options: 201A Package $1,300; Power liftgate $500; Leather Comfort Package $1,300; Vista Roof $1,750; Navigation $800
Freight: $1,690
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $36,439

Dodge Journey V6
Honda CR-V
Mazda CX-5
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester XT
Toyota RAV4

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Not much has changed on the Escape since it launched back in 2012 as a completely redesigned model. Looking at the inside of a 2013 versus this 2016 you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference unless they were side-by-side. The big change for 2016 is the new Sync system. Gone is the clunky Microsoft system that was rather flakey and in is this new more responsive Ford designed Sync system.

The verdict is still out on the this new system, but it is more responsive and the display is brighter and easier read. The multi-touch gestures are cool too. In this vehicle though the screen is a little bit of a stretch from the driver’s seat which can be distracting. The big bonus is I haven’t seen this system crash yet, neither in this vehicle or the Ford Edge I drove a few weeks back.

The one thing that is very notable in the Escape is the large windshield and smaller than average A-pillars. This provides the driver with excellent visibility forward, but it doesn’t end there. Visibility all around is excellent in the Escape, even rearward, although the backup camera certainly helps big time when reversing.

When the Escape moved away from it’s boxy design a lot of people (including myself) where really worried about the loss of cargo space. Yes there is less because of the more rounded exterior but the space is still large for the class of vehicle with 971 L behind the rear seats and 1,920 L once you fold the 60/40 split seats flat.

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When I first picked up the Escape I thought it was exhibiting a lot of road noise. Having driven the Lincoln MKC last fall it really brought things into perspective, that perhaps the Lincoln models are quite a bit quieter than their Ford counterparts. But after a few more days in the Escape I realize that it isn’t really that loud, although the winter tires certainly are a culprit when it comes to road noise.

The Lincoln MKC was very quiet though and it also had winter tires if I remember correctly so there certainly is a reason for the price discrepancy (it’s not just a badge).

The 1.6L EcoBoost engine in the Escape does a good job of moving it around. The 2.0L EcoBoost does an even better job but for more people the 1.6 will do the trick. It outputs a fairly health 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, although it is a little weezy at first once the boost climbs up it pulls smoothly right up to well past the speed limit.

Being a compact crossover the Escape handles more car like than truck like and seems very planted on the road. I admittedly was in a hurry yesterday and accelerated briskly through the cloverleaf onramp near my house at ridiculous speeds. Not for a second did I feel like I was going to lose control or grip, the torque vectoring all-wheel drive system could be doing more under foot than the driver is aware of, keeping you safe and on the black stuff.

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Let’s be honest: this generation of Escape has been around for quite some time now and it needs a refresh. Which Ford does have plans for in the 2017 model year. So maybe this 2016 year should be skipped unless you are in desperate need of an Escape and perhaps if you can swing a “too-good-to-be-true” deal.

Fuel Economy
Exterior Styling

Even with the small 1.6L engine there is no magic when it comes to an all-wheel drive crossover. I averaged 10.9 L/100 km over the week which I thought was pretty dismal when you consider the size of the vehicle and engine. I drove a Hyundai Tuscon back in the winter with a 1.6L turbo and averaged 8.5 L/100 km – that was impressive.

Although I liked the Escape overall, it feels a little dated. Ford is trying with the EcoBoost technology to deliver the fuel economy but they are behind the ball a little when compared to the competition. Their major saving grace is their incentives, so wait a bit to get a deal. The Escape is not a bad vehicle it’s just not amazing in any regard.

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