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Ford Escape Titanium petrol AWD 2018 review

If you haven’t realised that small, medium and large SUVs have taken over the world then you’ve been living under a rock – a rock that someone in a purpose-built dual-range 4WD would have driven over with disdain.

But while popular city-focused SUVs have not been designed, built or indeed marketed for serious off-roading, they can at least cope with dirt tracks and gravel roads. And it is those types of road surfaces which will likely form the outer limits of expected usage in these wagons anyway.

Some mid-sized models achieve a near-perfect marriage of on-road manners and light-duty off-road capability – and Ford’s Escape is having a decent crack at getting that combination just right. But does it succeed? To find out, read on.

Outside, from the chunky signature Ford grill at the front, all the way back to the tailgate, the Titanium is all swooping lines and sharp-edged cuts. Outside, from the chunky signature Ford grill at the front, all the way back to the tailgate, the Titanium is all swooping lines and sharp-edged cuts.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Escape looks good, albeit somewhat a bit dated, especially in the company of its increasingly polished rivals, such as Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, VW Tiguan et al.

Outside, from the chunky signature Ford grill at the front, all the way back to the tailgate, the Titanium is all swooping lines and sharp-edged cuts.

Inside is a cleanly laid-out cabin space with leather-accented everything and cool blue-lined illuminated edging here and there, including on USB ports; a subtle touch but nice nonetheless.

The Titanium has 10 airbags, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and more as standard. The Titanium has 10 airbags, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and more as standard.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Titanium is the top-shelf Escape variant. MLP is $44,990 for the five-door Escape Titanium AWD EcoBoost petrol but price as tested for our vehicle was $46,890 because it had prestige paint (Magnetic, $600) and the optional $1300 tech pack. Buying the tech pack is the only way to get AEB in an Escape.

The Titanium is available in auto only.

The Titanium's standard features include Ford's Sync3 multi-media unit, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather-wrapped steering wheel and trailer stability control, heated front seats, keyless entry and drive, power driver's seat, auto climate control with dual temp zones, power sunroof, power tailgate, roof rails, reversing camera, Enhanced Park Assist, parking sensors, adaptive xenon headlights, and 19-inch alloys.

The Titanium has a foot-prompted opening so if your arms are full of shopping, you can still get the rear door open with just a swing of your foot under the appropriate position under the tailgate. The Titanium has a foot-prompted opening so if your arms are full of shopping, you can still get the rear door open with just a swing of your foot under the appropriate position under the tailgate.

As standard, the Titanium also has the Hands-Free Pack – smart-keyless entry with push-button start and a hands-free power tailgate  with open sesame (foot-prompted opening).

The $1300 optional technology pack, which our test vehicle has, includes adaptive cruise control with forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping aid with lane departure warning, driver impairment monitor, tyre pressure monitoring system, and side mirrors with puddle lamps and auto fold function.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Our AWD Escape Titanium has a 2.0 Litre EcoBoost GTDi petrol engine, producing 178kW@5500rpm and 345Nm@2000- 4500rpm. It is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.

How practical is the space inside?

There is plenty of storage space in the Titanium starting with the usual glove box and door pockets (front and back), through to a pair of cupholders and a narrow bits-and-pieces recess (all concealed under a horizontal mini roller door, fore of the centre console), and a fold-down centre arm-rest with two cupholders built into it, in the back seat.

There are also fold-out trays in the backs of the front seats for back-seat passengers.

The rear cargo space, with a retractable cargo cover, is deep and wide with a flat floor for full top-to-bottom packing. The rear cargo space, with a retractable cargo cover, is deep and wide with a flat floor for full top-to-bottom packing.

The back seat is a 60/40 configuration.

The rear cargo space, with a retractable cargo cover, is deep and wide with a flat floor for full top-to-bottom packing. It has four tie-down points.

Luggage capacity is listed as 406 litres with five seats in use; 1603 litres with two seats in use. I never loaded that much in but, at one point, we did have a big swag, four camp chairs, esky, beach gear (clothes and towels) and more in the back – and it handled that load with ease.

As mentioned, the Titanium has a foot-prompted opening so if your arms are full of shopping, you can still get the rear door open with just a swing of your foot under the appropriate position under the tailgate. I never tried that function.

The Titanium has two USB ports in the centre console and three 12V power outlets.

What's it like as a daily driver?

For starters, it has reach- and rake-adjustable steering, which is always welcome. The driver’s seat is power adjustable and visibility is generous through all sightlines.

Front seats are comfortable and supportive, though not remarkably so for a top-spec model; back-seat passengers reportedly enjoy about the same level of 

The Titanium has a kerb weight of 1779kg, and is 1713mm high, 4524mm long (with a 2690mm wheelbase) and 1838mm wide. It has a 11.18m turning circle.

The driver’s seat is power adjustable and visibility is generous through all sightlines. The driver’s seat is power adjustable and visibility is generous through all sightlines.

EcoBoost: It is a lively drive, with light but direct steering and a snappy petrol engine, which accelerates with gusto off the mark – ideal for swift around-town manoeuvres – and on the move, making easy work of overtaking on highways. The smooth six-speed auto is difficult to fault as well.

Along open bitumen roads, on the way to our dirt-road loop, this Escape was smooth and quiet.

The 19-inch alloys and barely-there rubber make for a zippy driving experience but we’d opt for bigger sidewalls.

What's it like for touring?

Driving along gravel roads, as we neared our dirt-track loop, the coil-sprung suspension soaked up any bumps on the way, only really thumping through the deeper ones but returning to form quickly enough afterwards.

The AWD system – “Intelligent AWD” – ticked away quietly, controlling the Titanium over loose gravel surfaces that might have otherwise rattled a mid-sized SUV. Those types of driving surfaces are in abundance in national parks and the like, which are the destinations of choice for many owners of SUVs that usually spend the bulk of their day-to-day existence on suburban streets. 

Ground clearance unladen is listed as 163mm but we never went close to challenging that measure; we simply didn’t need to on the Escape-appropriate light-duty off-roading we did.

The Titanium is a lively drive, with light but direct steering and a snappy petrol engine. The Titanium is a lively drive, with light but direct steering and a snappy petrol engine.

As mentioned, the Titanium rides on 19-inch alloys and tyres and the spare is a space-saver; not ideal by a long shot.

It has maximum towing capacities of 1600kg (braked) and 750kg (unbraked). Its GVM is listed as 2230kg.

How much fuel does it consume?

This Escape has a claimed fuel consumption of 8.6L/100km. We recorded 12.7L/100km during daily driving (city and suburbs) and 13.5L/100km with some light off-roading thrown into the drive mix. It has a 60-litre fuel tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Titanium has a five-star ANCAP rating. It has 7 airbags, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and more as standard.

The technology pack, which our test vehicle has – and includes blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping aid with lane departure warning, driver impairment monitor, tyre pressure monitoring system, and side mirrors with puddle lamps and auto fold function – is a $1300 option.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Escape is covered by a five-year/ unlimited km warranty. Servicing is recommended at 12 month/15,000km intervals.

This Escape is a nice-looking, albeit a bit dated, unit which is rather comfortable and drives well. It’s not the coolest mid-sized SUV around, but it’s not lagging too far behind the pack leaders either. A few nice touches – including the standard hands-free pack – add to its appeal but the Titanium is probably too much of a merely okay thing to justify its price-tag, especially with no AEB as standard. If I’m shopping for an Escape I’d likely opt for the mid-spec Trend and pay for that optional tech pack to beef up its safety gear.

Do you reckon the Escape Titanium is worth the cash? Tell us what you think below.

$19,000 - $39,405

Based on 64 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.5/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

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