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Ford Escape Titanium petrol 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.1
Ford's Kuga has been replaced by the Escape. It's fundamentally the same car. Or is it? There's been exterior work done, and the inside's seen a lot of change. Is it enough to justify the name change?

There's a joke swirling around in my head about what you call someone when they're too old to be called a Kuga (a pun as irksome as the appellation for an on-the-prowl middle-aged woman). Ford seems to have come up with an answer - you grab an old name out of the bag and slap it on the back after giving it a good going over.

The Kuga has therefore been replaced by the Escape. Except it's fundamentally - and obviously - the same car. Or is it? There's been a bit of work done on the exterior sheet metal, sure, but the inside has seen a lot of change. Whether it's enough for a name change remains to be seen.

More: Check out our 2017 Ford Escape range review here

Ford Escape 2017: TITANIUM (AWD)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.8L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$25,950

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The transition from Kuga to Escape hasn't exactly transformed the car but it somehow now acts its size.

The Kuga's little grille made it look small and too much like the EcoSport. That's gone now, replaced by a big set of signature Ford gnashers and faster looking headlights.

Ford's early 2010's habit of festooning the cabin with more buttons than Nanna's sewing box has been banished. (Image credit: Max Klamus) Ford's early 2010's habit of festooning the cabin with more buttons than Nanna's sewing box has been banished. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

The profile remains unchanged, save for new alloy wheel designs and finishes, while the rear has new tail-lights that are bigger and squarer.

Inside is a huge improvement. Ford's early 2010's habit of festooning the cabin with more buttons than Nanna's sewing box has been banished. It makes the cabin a less tense, more appealing place to be, especially for front seat passengers. The old control set was like braille only nowhere near as useful.

It now has faster looking headlights. (Image credit: Max Klamus) It now has faster looking headlights. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

Here's a thing - the Escape is a tremendously practical car. The cabin is huge, the front and rear passengers are well looked-after, and there's plenty of places to put your stuff.

The Escape is a tremendously practical car. (Image credit: Max Klamus) The Escape is a tremendously practical car. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

While the boot is a touch on the small side at 406 litres (Hyundai Tucson's is bigger, even the CX-5's is now), it goes some way to off-setting that with a foot-wavey auto tailgate and a low loading lip. Drop the 60/40 split fold rear seats and the volume is blighted only by a step in the floor.

If you count the ones cut into the two airline-style tray tables in the front seatbacks, there are six cupholders (two up front, four in the rear) and four bottle holders, one in each door. A new central console (courtesy of an electric park brake freeing up space) also means a new, larger storage bin where you'll find two USB ports and a little removable tray.

  • The boot is a touch on the small side at 406 litres. (Image credit: Max Klamus) The boot is a touch on the small side at 406 litres. (Image credit: Max Klamus)
  • Drop the 60/40 split fold rear seats and the volume is blighted only by a step in the floor. (Image credit: Max Klamus) Drop the 60/40 split fold rear seats and the volume is blighted only by a step in the floor. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The Titanium is properly loaded to reflect its $44,990 price tag. Standard is a nine-speaker stereo, 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, electric driver's seat, heated front seats, textile leather trim, sat nav, automatic bi-xenon headlights, auto wipers, auto parking, power windows and mirrors, a huge sunroof and a space-saver spare.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen is the same on the Titanium as it is on the entry-level Ambiente, which is no bad thing. What's annoying is the way you have to contort your fingers and thumbs to hit the targets at the base of the screen, which is deeply recessed. The media system is Ford's 'Sync3', which is rather better than its predecessor, featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's still not especially attractive to look at in Sync mode, but it certainly does the job.

19-inch alloys come as standard. (Image credit: Max Klamus) 19-inch alloys come as standard. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

The screen is a bit on the slow side, which is extra annoying when you're trying to find a DAB+ radio station. Why can't anybody get that interface right?

Irritatingly, there's an optional 'Technology Pack' ($1300) that contains a couple of things that should be standard. For example, AEB, which is standard on a number of competitors, including the class leader CX-5, which has that feature included across its entire range.

The vast majority of the paint colours (seven of eight) are a $550 option, another bone I have to pick with the folks at Ford.

A space-saver spare comes as standard. (Image credit: Max Klamus) A space-saver spare comes as standard. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The Titanium is fitted with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder with a rather handy 178kW/345Nm, comfortably more than anything else in the segment, and verging on hot hatch numbers. Actually, it blows straight past some of them.

As in the lower grades, the six-speed dual-clutch changes the gears for you, shifting the 1676kg machine's weight via all four wheels.

The Titanium is fitted with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder with a rather handy 178kW/345Nm. (Image credit: Max Klamus) The Titanium is fitted with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder with a rather handy 178kW/345Nm. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

Ford's testing yielded 7.1L/100km on the combined cycle but, you know, with 178kW under your foot, it's unlikely you'll hit that number. I didn't, ending up at 12.6L/100km of premium.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The Titanium was an unexpected hoot to drive. Fitted with the more powerful 2.0-litre petrol four cylinder, the only other car in the class to touch it is a similarly-equipped VW Tiguan, with a seven-speed DSG.

A suspension tune that deftly walks the line between ride comfort and dynamic response means you can have a bit of fun and exploit the healthy 178kW and 345Nm of torque.

If your family/work/orthopaedic surgeon insisted you stay away from a Focus ST, the Escape is a reasonable compromise.

It helps that the weight isn't too high at 1676kg (although it could lay off the cakes, if I'm being honest) and the all-wheel drive system is up for it. No, it's not a hot hatch, but if your family/work/orthopaedic surgeon insisted you stay away from a Focus ST, the Escape is a reasonable compromise.

The 19-inch rims are fitted with chunky 235/45 rubber which probably don't do the ride any favours, but the expected road noise didn't materialise, which means your passengers will be fairly happy.

The only downside is the weird steering. It could have been restricted to this car or spec but the electric assistance rendered the wheel not only numb (confirmed with a subsequent drive in an Ambiente) but inconsistently weighted (the Ambiente was free of this affliction).

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Titanium features seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, reversing camera, brake assist, rollover stability and trailer sway control. As before, the Escape has a five star ANCAP safety rating, the best you can get.

The $1300 Technology Pack drops a ton of extra safety, including forward AEB, lane departure warning, fatigue detection, blind spot monitoring, auto high beam dipping and active cruise.

There are two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points across the back for child seats.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Ford offers a three year/100,000km warranty with one year of roadside assist into the bargain.

Fixed price servicing is also available (along with a loan car, nobody else does that without charging the big bucks) and the dealer expects your car's presence once a year or every 15,000km, whichever comes first.

The first three services result in a $375 hit with a big jump at the fourth to $625.

Verdict

The Escape seems new enough to get away with the new name. The Titanium is hardly going to be a big-seller and really needs the extra $1300 spent on it for the extra safety gear to match its competitors. It's a tough segment, and the fact a giant like Ford wasn't able to stroll in and own it should tell you that.

I quite liked the Escape and, crucially, it won approval from my wife who is hard to please. And we both liked the same things - spacious, quiet, comfortable and fast.

Do you think the Ford Escape is a genuine Mazda CX-5 challenger? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$26,990
Based on 235 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$17,888
Highest Price
$36,986

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
AMBIENTE (AWD) 1.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $21,888 – 24,990 2017 FORD ESCAPE 2017 AMBIENTE (AWD) Pricing and Specs
AMBIENTE (FWD) 1.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,888 – 24,990 2017 FORD ESCAPE 2017 AMBIENTE (FWD) Pricing and Specs
TITANIUM (AWD) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $25,950 – 36,986 2017 FORD ESCAPE 2017 TITANIUM (AWD) Pricing and Specs
TREND (AWD) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $21,487 – 30,950 2017 FORD ESCAPE 2017 TREND (AWD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.1
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption6
Driving7
Safety8
Ownership7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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