LOS ANGELES, CA - Determined to retain its leadership position in the growing compact SUV/Crossover segment, The 2017 Ford Escape has been given a mid-cycle refresh.
The perennial leader has been losing ground to the competition of late. Escape sales were down 10% for the first three quarters of the year, in a segment where sales were up 8.3%. The main competitors – RAV4, CR-V, Rogue, Cherokee, CX-5 and Santa Fe – all enjoyed double-digit growth over the same period.
Last year, Canadians bought more than one-quarter-million compact SUVs and crossovers. Compact cars are still the overall sales leaders, but the gap is shrinking, down to 20,000 at the end of the third quarter as compact car sales fell 6%.
Maintaining the lead in this growing segment is critical, and that's why Ford is releasing details of the 2017 Escape at the Los Angeles Auto Show, months before it goes on sale in early 2016.
Technology and upgrades
While not immediately evident from its appearance, the new Escape bristles with new technology and feature upgrades, including two new engines.
The front clip and tailgate have been redesigned, in particular the lights.
Inside, the console has been reconfigured. More storage space was made possible by switching to an electronic parking brake, replacing the bulky handle, lever and cable of the old system.
The climate controls are now decent–sized buttons and knobs, while other changes are minor – reshaped armrests and HVAC vents.
Refinement and features
Ford engineers promise additional refinement, particularly as evidenced by extremely low road- and wind-noise levels. The doors and B-pillars are insulated, the front wheel wells lined and acoustic glass used for the side windows. There are also new seals for the windshield and hood.
The new Escape will showcase a number of new-to-it features from little things like faster charging USB ports to an app that lets you unlock the vehicle and start the engine through your smartphone. Dubbed Sync Connect, this feature will also help you locate the vehicle in a crowded parking lot, check the fuel level and be alerted when service is due.
A number of driver-assist features will be available: enhanced park assist, lane-keeping, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.
Three trim levels, three engines
The 2017 Escape will continue to be available in three trim levels – S, SE and Titanium with several upgrade packages at each point on the trim ladder.
The standard engine will be the same 2.5-lire normally-aspirated aluminum four-cylinder offered currently. It will be joined by a pair of newcomers – a 1.5-litre turbocharged four that will be available on the S and standard on the SE and Titanium trim levels, and a new 2.0-litre four with a twin-scroll turbo that's available as a stand-alone option.
In all cases a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive are standard. All-wheel-drive is available with either EcoBoost engine.
Automatic start /stop
Both boosted engines will also come with a new start /stop system, allowing them to shut down automatically when the vehicle comes to a full stop for more than a few seconds, restarting instantly when the driver's foot is removed from the brake pedal.
Ford said here the average American spends 16 minutes idling every day, collectively wasting 3.8 million gallons of fuel – every day! It says the start/stop system alone results in a 4-6% fuel saving in city driving.
The starter motor, battery, brake pressure sensor and climate control pump are all upgraded to accommodate the start/stop system.
With more technology and features and better fuel economy, the 2017 Escape is well prepared to defend its position as class sales leader.
Model: 2017 Ford Escape
Engines: 2.5-litre, DOHC four-cylinder; 1.5-litre turbocharged, DOHC four-cylinder, 180-horseppower,185-lb-ft of torque (estimated); 2.0-litre turbocharged, DOHC four-cylinder, 245-horsepower, 275-lb-ft of torque
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive standard; AWD available with 1.5 & 2.0 -litre engines.
Length: 4,523 mm
Width: 2,077 mm
Wheelbase: 2,690 mm
Mass: 1,615-1,711 – kg
Competitors: Chevrolet Equinox; Honda CR-V; Hyundai Tucson; Jeep Cherokee; Kia Sportage; Mazda CX-5; Nissan Rogue; Toyota RAV4