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2019 ford Escape

The Ford Escape is one of the best-selling vehicles in the expanding small crossover segment. Though it's hardly the most modern model in its competitive set, it offers user-friendly tech, safety features, and efficient powertrains.

Overview

The nameplate has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2000. The latest model stands out with a hexagonal grille flanked by swept-back headlights, relatively steep a-pillars, and tail lights that stretch into the quarter panels. The overall look is a crisp interpretation of Ford's Kinetic design language.

It's not as contemporary inside, unfortunately. The cabin is uninspiring in all but the top trim levels. The infotainment screen is embedded deep into the dashboard and flanked by vertical air vents. The steering wheel and the instrument cluster both come from the Focus.

Parts sharing aside, the cabin enjoys soft-touch materials on most main surfaces, while a raft of NVH measures including sound deadening interior panels, enhanced window seals and foam baffles in the window pillars help to cut down on intrusive road noise.

User-friendly tech

All Escape models come standard with SYNC, Ford's Bluetooth-based connectivity system that allows smartphone uses to place calls and stream music by using voice commands or steering wheel-mounted buttons. It can also read incoming texts aloud to help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road, and allows the use of Ford-approved apps like The Wall Street Journal news and Pandora radio.

The Escape can be spec'd with MyFord Touch, an infotainment system that builds on SYNC by letting users control everything from navigation to climate control to the sound system with voice commands. MyFord Touch also replaces conventional sound system knobs and buttons with a center-mounted eight-inch touchscreen, dual 4.2-inch displays in the instrument cluster and touch-sensitive controls in the center stack. Many consumers report that the system is a "love it or hate it" item, so those interested in the Escape are advised to try before they buy.

Other key technologies include Curve Control, which automatically slows the vehicle when it's cornering too fast, as well as Torque Vectoring Control, which brakes the inside rear wheel to provide more balanced handling when the road gets twisty.

Under the hood

Ford offers the Escape with three engines. The base one that equips the entry-level S trim is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 168 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 170 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm.

SE and SEL trims get a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that delivers 179 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 177 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm.

Finally, the range-topping Titanium benefits from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque.

Every engine shifts through a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is offered at an extra cost on all but the base trim level.

Standard and optional features

The Escape is offered in S, SE, SEL, and Titanium trim levels.

The S comes standard with the 2.5-liter engine in addition to A/C, power windows and locks, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an AUX input, SYNC-based Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, key-less entry and 17-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.

The SE adds the 1.5-liter engine as well as a SiriusXM satellite radio, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a compass and outside temperature display, automatic on/off headlights, fog lights, dual chrome exhaust tips, body-color exterior trim, silver front and rear faux skid plates, and 17-inch silver-painted aluminum wheels.

The SEL gets leather upholstery, a power liftgate, heated mirrors, LED lighting, SYNC 3, an eight-inch touch screen, and a reverse-sensing system.

The Titanium brings the 2.0-liter EcoBoost, heated from seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a premium Sony audio system, MyFord Touch, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, ambient interior lighting, fog lights, a proximity key, push-button start, and 18-inch silver-painted aluminum wheels.

Highlights from the options list include a panoramic sunroof, a navigation system and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Occupant safety

All Escape models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag, traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

A Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) is available as an optional extra.

Key competitors

Not sure that the Escape is the right compact crossover for you? Luckily, there's a wide range of attractive alternatives to cross-shop.

Conservative but highly practical options include the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, while the Mazda CX-5 is the driver's choice.

Also worth a look is the stylish Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, the well-rounded Subaru Forester and the upscale Volkswagen Tiguan, which uniquely offers three rows of seats.