Ford’s hot-selling Escape moves into the 2017 model year with a facelift, a revised EcoBoost engine lineup and a host of convenience and tech upgrades, keeping it one of the most desirable choices in the segment.

17ford-escape-titanium_12_hrOther than the F series, no other vehicle drives off of Ford’s dealer lots faster than the Escape. They sell nearly 30,000 of them every month and Ford has spruced up this current generation Escape to keep it up to date.

Available in S, SE and Titanium trims, the Escape is popular because it not only pioneered this segment but it’s offered with a wide array of options making it attractive to the frugal and flush alike. A loaded model can approach $40,000. Plus, it’s darn good at its intended purpose. This week I’m in the SE with the optional 2.0-liter motor and 4-wheel drive with a bevy of options including the big 201A equipment group featuring the Blind Spot Information System with Cross-traffic Alert, reverse sensing system, projector headlamps with LED bling, and SYNC3 with new mobile access features such as remote start, lock and locate. Also added are these flashy 18” wheels, a power liftgate and the leather comfort package with a power passenger’s seat and heated front seats. This takes the price from $29,000 to $33,120. Of course, incentives can further reduce that.

The 2.0-liter engine continues to be the hot-Rod motor and it makes the Escape feel very quick. So opt for it if you prioritize speed over MPGs. This 2017 Escape, along with the new Kia Sportage, continues to lead the way in compact SUV drivability.

Its new twin-scroll turbocharger provides a nominal power boost to 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque but also dings fuel economy by 1mpg in both city and highway driving. Plus, Ford recommends premium for this engine now though regular is acceptable.  To compensate, the gas tank is slightly bigger to not only preserve but slightly increase its driving range to 361 miles.  It’s mated to a smooth shifting 6-speed automatic with Sport mode and a standard Auto Start-Stop mode which stops the engine while the vehicle is sitting idle.  From a driving perspective, the Escape is a big winner with a light and easy way about it, fun handling and prodigious power.

Inside, the center console has been redesigned to improve access to climate control buttons and new storage bin at the bottom. Updated cupholders, a longer driver’s armrest and an electronic parking brake are also new.  But the one thing I noticed is that the Escape’s touch point plastics feel cheap…a degree behind where they should be.  For instance, this 2 tier storage latch feels very fragile.  The SYNC system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support is very easy to use and the steering wheel is new with repositioned switch gear.  The driver display is highly functional, too.  But any vehicle that still requires a key, much less one that costs over $30,000, feels a tad like yesteryear. The Escape has a unique vantage point from behind the wheel where the huge windshield and lower, car-like seating height provide excellent visibility without being way up high.

The rear seats have adjustable recline and provide ample room but lack USB ports. They do fold completely flat to provide a wide, tall cargo area – a little smaller overall than the oversized RAV4 but very close.

I completely love this White Gold paint and the facelift came out just fine, adding a more rugged SUV-like appearance. The 2017 Escape keeps on doing what it does so well with a sprinkling of newness as it awaits its complete makeover, likely still a few years away.

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