When they dropped the 2014 Ford Escape off last Monday, I was excited to spend a week getting to know this crossover SUV. As a little brother to the Ford Explorer, it's exactly what you would expect, a sort of Goldilocks Ford if you will--not too big, not too small.
The version we test drove (base $30,850) was the Titanium 4WD (add-on $1735) with Ecoboost (add on $1195) and Navigation system (add-on $795). So, it literally had all the bells and whistles you could hope for except for a sunroof.
Looking at the car, it's hard to decipher if it's more car or SUV. The 2014 Ford Escape is lean, more athletic-looking than its predecessor. It is a crossover that doesn't scream "I have kids!" or "I'm single!" It seems to have that universal appeal. I polled a few of my friends both male and female, parents and non-parents alike and everyone wanted to take this car for a little spin.
Let's go for a ride.
The keyless entry is always a good first touch. It's also moderately elevated. You enter more like a car yet you feel a little higher but not quite as high as you would in an SUV. See? Very middle of the road, if you will. Parents will appreciate this mid-version height because reaching into the backseat to tether a child into a carseat is a cinch. While we're here in the backseat, there is plenty of legroom and headspace for two adults and kids will appreciate their own outlet for charging phones or DVD players.
As far as comfort goes, the seats are pretty firm and not as cushy as the Range Rover Evoque (my favorite compact SUV). The leather seats are comfortable but they feel like they are built for utility and not comfort. They aren't as utilitarian as say, the Jeep Wrangler, but I wouldn't want to drive cross-country in this vehicle.
Ergonomically, the dash is laid out well with everything in clear view and placed where you would expect them to be. The Sync system, which has worked well on other Ford cars we've driven in the past, would fail intermittently and dropped our calls numerous times throughout the week.
The cargo hold is a great size. Whenever I test-drive a car I always look at the cargo space to see if I had a full car of passengers would I fit all our luggage as well. The Ford Escape cargo hold could easily handle the luggage for four people and a stroller. This is the kind of crossover that can take everything a family can throw at it from Costco runs to sports equipment.
Interesting bit: The windshield wipers were configured so that the left and right wipers come together towards the middle rather than in the traditional set-up where they move together in one direction. The wipers moving fast and towards each other had the effect of making one of our friends immediately carsick. Interesting.
Driving the car, you have good visibility with minor blind spots. The car we drove had both parking assist and blind spot detectors which were helpful when driving in the busy mall parking lot. On the highway, the Escape was fairly quiet with good pick up. Safety-wise it scored four stars overall in the Government 5-star Safety Ratings with five stars for side crashes. You can expect to get on average roughly 24 miles per gallon.
So, is it a happy car?
I like this crossover. In fact we all did, except for our friend who begged us to turn off the "dizzying" windshield wipers. For the price point the 2014 Ford Escape is perfect for families, singles, your grandma. It's a safe car that offers a solid drive with plenty of space. It doesn't provide the level of comfort that the Evoque does and it isn't as big as the Explorer but as a mid-level min-SUV, it's a happy thing.