- New Car Test Drive
The standard Escape engine is the 2.5-liter making 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. It’s not as modern as the others, and a bit boring, but it’s smooth and competent. It offers enough power for most needs, but it does not produce quick acceleration. It the least expensive engine, with nearly the same horsepower and acceleration as the new 1.5-liter, although it’s not as torquey as the 1.5. Fuel mileage from the 2.5-liter is about two miles per gallon poorer than that of the 1.5-liter.
The new 1.5-liter engine makes 179 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to the torque, there is much kicking-down of the transmission with this engine, as there is with the base 2.5-liter. It lets out booming sounds during hard acceleration, deceiving because it’s not at all quick. Still on par with the competition, though.
If you need speed, your only call is the new EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbo, making 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet or torque, and zooming to sixty miles per hour in less than seven seconds. At the option price of $1300, it’s a steal. It separates the Escape from almost every other crossover in its class.
The standard 6-speed automatic works just fine, a good match for the EcoBoost engines, with programmed shift points at a good mix of acceleration and fuel mileage. The 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter get paddle shifters, while the 2.5 has lame sport mode, and a switch on the lever to change gears.
All-wheel drive moves power from the front to rear wheels, up to 100 percent in either direction, where ever the traction is needed.
The Escape does not handle like an SUV, it handles like a sharp and engaging liftback, albeit a high one. Crisp steering, responsive handling, great body control. The steering is crisp, weighty and fast, while being not too overly blessed with feedback. Forget truck-like.
The ride is tightly damped, and sometimes can feel too tautly spring; with the 19-inch wheels as on the Titanium, it can feel harsh. The smaller-diameter wheels offer a smoother ride.
There’s electronic torque vectoring to help with the cornering; maybe that’s why we love it. It pinches the inside front brake in a corner, to help the car rotate.