The Ford Escape has never earned first place in our comparison tests of compact SUVs, but there’s no doubt it’s the clear favourite amongst consumers. Now in its third model year since a complete redesign, the 2015 Ford Escape remains Canada’s best-selling compact SUV despite a drop in market share and a strong sales surge by the Toyota RAV4 (as of July, 2015).

The Escape certainly ticks all the right boxes for consumers: it’s the right size for Canadian families: small enough to be maneuverable in traffic yet with a roomy cabin and spacious cargo area. A choice of three available four-cylinder engines allows Escape owners to choose the blend of performance and fuel economy they want.  And with optional all-wheel drive and a decent 200-mm ground clearance (along with a good set of winter tires) it provides competent all-weather, all-season capability.

Adding to its appeal are contemporary, edgy styling, a wide range of comfort and safety features and some unique features such as active parallel parking assist and a rear liftgate that opens by swinging your foot under the bumper.

Not to be overlooked are the hundreds of Ford dealers across the country, where it can be purchased and serviced, along with the generous rebates and low interest financing that you’ll often find with Ford vehicles.

2015 and 2016 Ford Escapes are available in three trim levels, S, SE and Titanium with standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. A choice of three engines is available, depending on the trim level:  base Escape S FWD models come with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine but Escape S 4WD models get the turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder Ecoboost engine.  Mid-level Escape SE FWD models come standard with the 2.5L engine but can be optioned to the 1.6L Ecoboost or the 2.0L Ecoboost engines. Escape SE 4WD models can be had with the 1.6L or 2.0L Ecoboost engines. Finally, top-of-the-line Escape Titanium FWD and 4WD models both come standard with the 2.0L Ecoboost engine.

Our tester is a mid-level Escape SE 4WD with a 2015 MSRP of $28,199. Options boosted its price to $33,499 plus $1,650 Freight and PDI for a total of $35,149 before taxes.  A quick check of Ford’s website revealed that 2016 Ford Escapes are already being offered with incentives so it’s quite likely you’ll find even bigger discounts on remaining 2015s.  At the time of this writing, Ford is advertising low interest financing for 84 months, or a total cash price of $24,972 for the 2015 Escape SE 2.5L front-wheel-drive model, or a hefty discount of $3,890 off the top-of-the-line 2015 Escape Titanium 4WD trim.

One with everything: Test Drive: 2014 Ford Escape Titanium

Standard equipment on the Escape SE includes most of the features that people want: a six-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, electric power steering, AM/FM/CD player with six speakers, Sync voice-activated telephone and audio, power windows with driver’s one-touch down, 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, variable intermittent front wipers with heated park position, rear wiper/washer and seven airbags.  You’ll also find a centre console and padded armrest, trip computer, three 12-volt power outlets and one 110-volt outlet, eight cupholders, driver’s door keypad, and ice-blue interior lighting.

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