And in most respects the new Ford medium-size SUV fitted the bill nicely, after all, it was the top-of-the-range Titanium model. If the name sounds familiar, it is an old Ford title revisited and is a Kuga with a new name as part of the marketing in the Blue Oval scheme of things.
Along with the new name goes a fresh face, five-star ANCAP safety rating and improved fuel efficiency, all at a more affordable price than before.
Then there is the introduction of SYNC 3 to the mid-size SUV segment, with Ford’s latest infotainment system featuring faster performance, voice recognition tuned to the Australian accent, intuitive smartphone-style touchscreen and easier-to-read graphics.
Fuel efficiency has been addressed with the addition a front-wheel drive Trend variant for the first time, as well as a suite of optional advanced aids for the driver, including enhanced autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control with forward alert and enhanced collision mitigation.
On test was the top-of-the-range Escape Titanium diesel automatic AWD, which sells for $47,490, plus on-road costs.
Ford Escape’s move to a more rugged exterior owes more to the traditional 4×4 wagon than the swoopy-coupe styling of many of the modern SUVs. Not that it’s old fashioned, with a large upper trapezoidal grille and a smaller lower grille being flanked by sleek new headlamps incorporating daytime running lights.
Stylish fog lamps complement the modern look, while restyled taillights and a new range of 18 and 19-inch alloy wheel designs complete a sporty look across the whole range.
A well-crafted cabin has been made nicer to the touch than before with quality fit and finish.
It offers more ergonomic use of the controls thanks to various changes. The steering wheel and air-conditioning controls are more intuitive, with fewer and more easily distinguishable buttons and switches making the controls easier to spot and manipulate.
Control of audio, navigation and connected smartphones using simple, more conversational voice commands is made possible with Ford’s new SYNC 3 connectivity, the result of more than 22,000 comments from research clinics and surveys.
Escape drivers can operate SYNC 3’s 8.0-inch touchscreen in a similar way to their smartphones. A new interface features larger, easier to operate buttons and enables pinch and swipe gestures for the first time.
Apple CarPlay, allows iPhone users to make calls, access music, send and receive messages, tap into traffic conditions and more. Android users can do likewise through Android Auto.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel engine incorporates high pressure common-rail fuel injection and auto / stop start to result in fuel consumption, according to Ford, of 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres and carbon dioxide emissions of 147 g per kilometre. These numbers are on the combined urban / highway cycle for a Euro 5 rating.
The high-level Escapes feature the latest Ford technology and body engineering to help drivers be more aware of their surroundings and enhance safety for occupants and other road users.
For example, Ford’s adaptive front lighting system is standard on Escape Titanium and monitors ambient light conditions and automatically adjusts the beam angle of the bi-xenon headlights depending on the vehicle’s speed, steering angle and distance to an object in front. It also has an anti-glare feature, as well as country road, city street and manoeuvring beam shaping.
Active park assist technology, also standard on Escape Titanium, uses ultrasonic sensors to find a parking space while passing other parked vehicles and helps steer the car into the spot while the driver has only to control the accelerator and brake.
Other driver assistance comes from a rear-view camera, rear cross traffic alert, park-out assist that helps drivers as they exit a parallel parking space, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support and driver alert system designed to detect certain signs of fatigue and provide a warning via the instrument cluster.
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine produces 132 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque, which mated with a six-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, gives the Escape the flexibility to deal with a variety of driving conditions and loads, including towing up to 1800 kg with a braked trailer.
Test vehicle diesel engine noise and vibration were very much isolated from the passenger cabin, and together with leather accented seat trim, heated front-seats and 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, provided a relaxing ambience.
Ford Intelligent All-Wheel Drive chipped in for handling stability and traction control, with the added help of torque vectoring control on cornering.
New convenience features make Escape even more user-friendly. An electronic parking brake requires little effort to operate and frees room for improved storage in the centre console.
Second-row stadium seating offers a good view all round and on Titanium features family-friendly packaging such as rear tray tables, as well as ISOFIX anchorage-points and rear air-vents on all models. With rear seat backs folded it also opens up 1603 litres for luggage.
The Titanium goes even further, with hands-free power tailgate with smart keyless entry that can be opened or closed using a kicking motion under the rear bumper, enabling easy access to the cargo area when returning with shopping, pushchairs or toddlers.
If that’s not enough to Escape (sorry!) the stresses of a busy life, by pushing a button and saying ‘I need a coffee,’ drivers can locate nearby cafés, while simple voice commands can also find petrol stations or car parks, train stations, airports, and hotels. The system then guides the driver to the selected destination via satellite navigation that’s standard across the Escape range.
In a crowded car park of mid-size SUVs, there’s little that’s exciting about the Ford Escape Titanium. However, with the latest SYNC 3 infotainment system and a stack of safety and convenience features, it has plenty to offer. Even at a substantial $47,490 it’s worth the price of admission.
AT A GLANCE
Ford Escape Ambiente 1.5L EcoBoost FWD 6-speed manual $28,490
Ford Escape Ambiente 1.5L EcoBoost FWD 6-speed automatic $29,990
Ford Escape Ambiente 1.5L EcoBoost AWD 6-speed automatic $32,990
Ford Escape Trend 1.5L EcoBoost FWD 6-speed automatic $32,990
Ford Escape Trend 2.0L EcoBoost AWD 6-speed automatic $35,990
Ford Escape Trend 2.0L TDCi AWD 6-speed automatic $38,490
Ford Escape Titanium 2.0L EcoBoost AWD 6-speed automatic $44,990
Ford Escape Titanium 2.0L TDCi AWD 6-speed automatic $47,490
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Ford dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Ford Escape 2.0-litre turbo-diesel six-speed automatic AWD five-door SUV)
Capacity: 1.997 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 132 kW @ 3500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 400 Nm @ 2000-2500 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.6 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 147 g/km
DRIVELINE: Ford PowerShift 6-speed dual clutch transmission, AWD
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4524 mm
Wheelbase: 2690 mm
Width: 1838 mm
Height: 1749 mm
Turning Circle: 11.18 metres
Kerb Mass: 1779 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
Front: Solid disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years / 100,000 km