Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

You are here

Ford Escape Trend FWD 2018 review: long term

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Malcolm Flynn is spending six months living with the mid-spec Escape Trend FWD, to see if it lives up to the high praise we’ve given it to date.

Malcolm Flynn is spending six months living with the mid-spec Escape Trend FWD, to see if it lives up to the high praise we’ve given it to date.

July 15

Most of us were raised on the soon-to be-extinct big Aussie six-cylinder sedans and wagons, and some of us find it hard to let go of some of the attributes that made them great - in their day. 

One of these elements is effortless power, with the assurance that a flex of your right foot can overcome any slow-moving caravan or member of the hat-on-parcel-shelf brigade. 

SUVs of all shapes and sizes have replaced the big Aussies as our preferred car choice, with mid-sizers like the Ford Escape forming the majority among them. Of these, there’s a number of options that offer an abundance of performance if you so desire.

However, most SUV buyers actually prefer comfort features over performance, which is why Ford Australia fought hard to add a new price-leading version of the mid-spec Trend (sitting above the Ambiente and below the Titanium) when the Kuga became the Escape earlier this year.

By pairing the Trend feature list with the smallest petrol engine and dropping the all-wheel drive (AWD), Ford has dropped the Trend price of entry by nearly $4000 to a very competitive $32,990. You can still get a more powerful petrol Trend with AWD for an extra $3000, or the also-AWD diesel for an extra $5500. 

However, this cheapest Trend formula seemed so smart that Richard picked it as the new sweet spot of the range when we first drove it in February.

But, as credible as Richard’s analysis is, he was only able to drive it for a day at the Escape’s launch, and we generally only test vehicles for a week at a time. This is much more than the lap-of-the-block most buyers get before purchasing, but we thought we’d see how the choice of equipment over mechanical mumbo stood up long-term. 

So Ford has kindly loaned us an Escape Trend in its cheapest form for six months, where it will be put through the rigor of family life from my driveway, with the added challenge of following in the footsteps of the Volkswagen Tiguan 132 TSI Comfortline I spent the preceding six months with.

  • This is the Ford Escape Trend in its cheapest form. This is the Ford Escape Trend in its cheapest form.
  • Richard the Trend as the new sweet spot of the range when we first drove it in February. Richard the Trend as the new sweet spot of the range when we first drove it in February.
  • There is plenty of room for me to sit on the back seat behind my driving position. There is plenty of room for me to sit on the back seat behind my driving position.
  • Chunky 18-inch wheels come standard. Chunky 18-inch wheels come standard.
  • Auto headlights are thankfully standard. Auto headlights are thankfully standard.
  • The Escape’s updated looks are a big step forward from the quirky Kuga. The Escape’s updated looks are a big step forward from the quirky Kuga.

Our Escape arrived with a well run-in 3034km on the clock, and we were careful to tick the box for the optional $1300 'Technology Pack'. Unfortunately, this is the only way to get AEB on any Escape, which is generally standard fitment on any new arrival these days. 

It’s worth noting that you can’t even pay to have the Technology Pack fitted to the base Ambiente, but on the Trend and Titanium it also brings active cruise control, forward collision, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts, lane guidance with lane departure warning, auto high beams, driver fatigue monitoring, a tyre-pressure monitoring system plus auto-folding mirrors with puddle lamps. I’d highly recommend ticking the same box, and bargaining hard to have it included for free. 

All versions of the Escape were awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in January, even without the Technology Pack features, but it does tick all of the other big safety boxes including a reversing camera, dual front and side airbags for the front passengers, plus driver’s knee bag and curtain airbags covering front and rear passengers.

Standard Trend features that impress include the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-compatible 'SYNC 3' 8-inch multimedia system which also comes with built-in sat nav, dual zone climate control, leather steering wheel, auto headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors (if not front), rear privacy glass, chunky 18-inch wheels and dual exhausts that give it a sports flavour.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the Trend's 8.0-inch touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the Trend's 8.0-inch touchscreen.

First impressions have been good, with the Escape retaining the Kuga’s reputation for refinement, with a proper Euro feel to its ride and handling. 

It certainly feels taller than the Tiguan, and not quite up to its new benchmark levels of refinement and dynamics, but you can still do a lot worse in the mid-size SUV class. 

If you’re shopping for an Escape, you might be a little alarmed to see that this smaller petrol engine measures just 1.5-litres, but it make a lot more power (134kW) than any 1.4-litre Tiguan, an even out-powers the 2.0-litre 132 TSI by 2kW. Its 240Nm max torque rating is 80Nm less, but different tuning makes it feel at least on par in most circumstances, and even trumps the bugger VW engine for responsiveness. Never judge a book by its cover.

The Escape’s updated looks are a big step forward from the quirky Kuga, but overall it lacks the freshness inside and out of all-new rivals like the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V.  

Despite its age though, the interior still ticks all the big practicality boxes like bottle holders in each door, plus dual cup holders front and rear and ISOFIX child seat points in the two outboard rear seat positions. 

I insist on using the more rigid ISOFIX mounts for my seven month old son’s seat, but the still-mandated top-tether mounts can be very fiddly to access in the Escape. 

Having tinted privacy glass means I don’t have to use annoying window socks to shield Mal Junior from the sun, but the fact that the rear bench doesn’t slide means his rearward-facing child seat limits front passenger seat space. 

This is fine for my 172cm height, but anyone taller might feel a bit short changed. It won’t be an issue when he graduates to forward facing, but this does mean at least 12 months of limited passenger room if you bought one.

There is plenty of room for me to sit on the back seat behind my driving position, and the backrest reclines to allow you to balance back seat space with cargo carrying needs.

Other points worth mentioning include the proper adjustable air vents in the back of the centre console, plus the three 12-volt power points split between the front and back seats and boot area. There are also two USB ports up front.

Our 9.3L/100km average is a fair way off the 7.2L/100km official combined figure. Our 9.3L/100km average is a fair way off the 7.2L/100km official combined figure.

We’ve covered 1778km of mixed highway and around-town driving in our first month, and our bowser-calculated average fuel consumption of 9.3L/100km is a fair way off the 7.2L/100km official combined figure. 

We’ll be keeping a close eye on its real-world consumption, and experimenting with 95RON Premium to see if it makes any difference to the 91RON Regular the fuel flap decal suggests is okay. The spec sheet says 95 minimum, but we’re going to go with the fuel flap as most of you would. 

Start date: July 2017
Distance travelled: 1778km
Odometer reading: 4812km
Average fuel: 9.3L/100km (at the pump)

August 15

You know how I said I’d test the Escape 1.5’s mechanical mumbo? How about loading it up to within 30kg of its max tow rating and driving it 1500km back to Sydney from Adelaide?

After months of searching, I found the ideal KE20 Toyota Corolla in the South Australian capital to add to my personal collection, but wanted to inspect it in the flesh before handing over the reddies, and didn’t fancy the idea of driving a 44-year-old Corolla with a four-speed manual and 12 inch tyres all the way back across the Hay Plains.

Our friends at Ford kindly agreed to fit the factory tow pack. Our friends at Ford kindly agreed to fit the factory tow pack.

Flying there and hiring a tow vehicle and trailer was going to cost big bickies, and after careful consideration and nosing through the owner’s manual, I decided the Escape was the best candidate for the job. 

With a braked tow rating of 1500kg, it was just enough to combine the 770kg Corolla with a 700kg car trailer. More importantly, the 1.5-litre Escapes are surprisingly rated with the best Gross Combined Mass (GCM) of the line-up at 3673kg. This means that beyond the 1470kg towed load and our Escape’s 1607kg kerb weight, we had a handy 596kg up our sleeve to carry other things like passengers and luggage. Perfect. 

Our friends at Ford kindly agreed to fit the factory tow pack, and we were set. The final challenging element was that I could only spare three days to make the 3000km round trip. Life in the fast lane. 

The trip to Adelaide with the trailer behind was a test in itself, with the dual-axle unit  more than doubling the length of the Escape, and even the empty car trailer weighs around three times your regular empty box trailer. 

The dual-axle trailer more than doubled the length of the Escape. The dual-axle trailer more than doubled the length of the Escape.

The punchy little 1.5 had no problems maintaining a steady 110km/h though, aside from nudging the average fuel consumption up to 13.1L/100km. So she was working for it. 

Completing a couple of overtaking moves reminded me of what the electric trailer brake controller is for, as lifting off the throttle suddenly has a tendency to unsettle the rear end. The trailer sway function kicked in instantly though, grabbing individual rear wheels to correct the sway like the guiding hand of some supreme being. 

Once the Corolla was added to the load, I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge for any sign of stress, as it took considerably more throttle to get moving and stay moving. 

With a braked tow rating of 1500kg, it was just enough to combine the 770kg Corolla with a 700kg car trailer. With a braked tow rating of 1500kg, it was just enough to combine the 770kg Corolla with a 700kg car trailer.

It didn’t budge though, and still managed to cruise at 110km/h up all bar the steepest highway inclines with the cruise control on.

The extra load actually made the trailer feel more stable, but the fuel consumption took another dive to a return-trip average of 18.0L/100km.

This reduced the range from the Escape’s 60-litre tank to what we considered a safe 300km, which took careful planning along the remote route considering it was the weekend and often late at night. 

This was made MUCH easier, however, thanks to the SYNC 3’s ‘Petrol along route’ function, which lists all service stations along your plotted nav route in order of proximity. 

We saw a worst figure of 19.4L/100km along the return leg. We saw a worst figure of 19.4L/100km along the return leg.

We saw a worst figure of 19.4L/100km along the return leg (almost three times the Escape’s official combined figure!!), so we fed it a couple of tanks of Premium 95RON unleaded to hopefully maximise the range between fills.

This managed to knock around 1.5L/100km off the consumption, but didn’t quite negate the circa-15c/L extra cost of the 95. 

SYNC 3’s ‘Petrol along route’ function lists all service stations along your plotted nav route in order of proximity. SYNC 3’s ‘Petrol along route’ function lists all service stations along your plotted nav route in order of proximity.

You can’t expect to tow almost three tonnes (combined) at highway speeds with a 1.5-litre without some expense, and the extra fuel consumption was really the best case scenario. 

We were so filled with confidence and ahead of schedule that we managed to squeeze in a lap of Mount Panorama once we hit Bathurst, and the Escape’s aplomb at climbing The Mountain was the ideal preparation for the Mount Victoria climb up the Blue Mountains before we hit Sydney.

  • We managed to squeeze in a lap of Mount Panorama once we hit Bathurst. We managed to squeeze in a lap of Mount Panorama once we hit Bathurst.
  • Climbing The Mountain was the ideal preparation for the Mount Victoria climb up the Blue Mountains before we hit Sydney. Climbing The Mountain was the ideal preparation for the Mount Victoria climb up the Blue Mountains before we hit Sydney.

Once back, it was amazing to unload the car and trailer and find the Escape feeling as tight as a drum and as good as new, despite giving most of her all for three days straight across three states and back. 

Kudos is also due for the 1.5’s six-speed torque converter auto. Even with all that weight in tow, it shifted responsively and confidently, even in default mode, allowing us to simply pop the cruise control on and go for it with no fuss.

The Trend’s cloth seats are also very comfortable and supportive for such a long drive. 

Would we recommend the Escape for towing such a load all the time? No, but it was certainly up for the challenge when it needed to be.

Start date: July 2017
Distance travelled: 4596km
Odometer reading: 9408km
Average fuel: 13.67L/100km (at the pump)

September 23

September was a much quieter month for our Escape, with its greatest adventure being a Saturday mountain biking session that forced us to combine two bikes with the baby seat. 

With the wheels removed, the Escape did an excellent job of swallowing both bikes through the ‘60 per cent’ portion of the folding back seat.

The Escape did an excellent job of swallowing both bikes. The Escape did an excellent job of swallowing both bikes.

Note that you wouldn’t be able to do this with some left-hand drive origined vehicles that still have their ‘40 per cent’ fold on the right hand side, so add this to your checklist if you want to carry mountain bikes, or anything significant really, with a baby seat fitted. 

Accessing the mountain bike tracks saw us covering a few fire trails and gravel roads en route, and it must be said that we didn’t miss all-wheel drive. If you lived on a gravel road or spend a lot of time at the snow it might be a different story, but don’t feel you need it for the occasional run out to the bush.

The brake dust on the rear wheels suggests the trailer sway control had a better workout than we thought. The brake dust on the rear wheels suggests the trailer sway control had a better workout than we thought.

One day while marvelling at how good our Escape’s 'Ruby Red' paint (also available on the Mustang) looks despite not being washed yet, I noticed how much brake dust had built up on the rear wheels - which was surprisingly more than on the fronts. I deduce that this is is probably a sign that the trailer sway control was getting more of  a workout on the Adelaide trip than I realised. Once again, it’s fair to reflect on it as the guiding hand of a supreme being.  

Aside from the mountain bike jaunt, we covered 2120km of similar general duties driving to our first month with the Escape. We’re no closer to achieving the 7.2L/100km official combined figure though, with September’s average pushing out to 9.9L/100km.

Start date: July 2017
Distance travelled: 2120km
Odometer reading: 11528km
Average fuel: 9.9L/100km (at the pump)

October 28

October was even less exciting than September for the Escape, which is no bad thing when it comes to family cars. It just plodded along and was there for us when we needed it. A bit like a neighbour who owns a toilet plunger. 

Spending some time in a Mazda3 this month highlighted a shortcoming in the Ford’s SYNC 3 multimedia system, though. While SYNC 3 trumps the Mazda for outright functionality and connectivity, the 3’s rotary console controller and buttons are much easier to control when on the move than the Ford’s touchscreen or even voice commands.

Ford's SYNC 3 could do with a console controller. Ford's SYNC 3 could do with a console controller.

The voice commands are brilliant, but we find it’s still quicker and easier to get what you want with familiar finger controls. 

We covered 1716km this month, and thankfully the average consumption has headed in the right direction. At 9.3L/100km it’s still miles off the official figure, but equal to our first month figure and 0.6L/100km better than last month. 

Start date: July 2017
Distance travelled: 1716km
Odometer reading: 13244km
Average fuel: 9.3L/100km (at the pump)

November 24

November saw us combining two grandmothers with one picnic and one Escape, which in addition to one baby’s worth of stuff, pushed the Trend’s cargo and passenger space to new limits. 

With Mum and Dad in command from the front seat, the back seat was admittedly cosy with three across, but nobody complained over the short journey.

We loaded the boot up close to its 406-litre max. We loaded the boot up close to its 406-litre max.

The boot was easily at its 406L max, so we left the cargo shelf at home to allow soft items to poke above the window line. The Escape’s boot is actually a fair bit smaller than the Tiguan, but It’s still a decent size. 

There’s not much in the way of underfloor storage, but five months into our six month stint we’ve just discovered the hidden cargo bin under the driver’s seat that is big enough to swallow a small handbag. 

One other thing that’s only just registered is the fact the doors don’t lock automatically when you move from rest. I can remember feeling restrained when this first started appearing on new models, but now that almost everything does it, it leaves you feeling a little vulnerable. 

We travelled just 1667km of general duties this month, but our 9.7L/100km real-world average suggests we may never get beneath 9.0L/100km, let alone 8.0.

Start date: July 2017
Distance travelled:1667 km
Odometer reading: 14911km
Average fuel: 9.7L/100km (at the pump)

December 18

It’s time to say goodbye to our Escape, after what feels like the quickest six months in history. Our general state of busyness is reflected in the kilometres we’ve travelled, with this month’s tally, almost 14,000km more than when we collected it. 

Ironically, it’s taken us this long to take the Escape on a proper highway journey (without a car and trailer in tow), with a run to Canberra and back to visit my half of the grandparents. 

Over the 600km run, the Escape delivered its best fuel consumption yet. At 8.9L/100km it’s still a fair way off it’s official combined figure, and proves that the 1.5 is working to keep the 1607kg Escape at 110km/h. Perhaps you’d match the official claims if you cruised at 80km/h everywhere, but who does that?

The ACT’s abundance of roundabouts drew attention to the thickness of the A-pillars at their base, which from the driver’s view can create an uninterrupted blind spot from the tip of the side mirror to the base of the windscreen. The effect is lessened if you jack the seat height right up (or for taller drivers), but contrasts with the attention a lot of other SUVs are paying to forward visibility. 

As the temperature has climbed, we’re also finding that the Escape’s many many dash vents don’t spit out as much air as you’d think. We’ve seen worse, but we’ve also seen a lot better. 
 
Reflecting on the 1.5’s diminutive capacity, it certainly punches well above its weight, and its sheer responsiveness makes it a nicer car to drive around town than the Tiguan 2.0. 

Some drivers have complained about its torque steer, but it’s hardly enough to wrench the wheel from your hands. 

Have we missed all-wheel drive? Aside from a potential solution to the torque steer, not one bit. 

All told, our average fuel consumption over the six months has been 10.2L/100km, but this drops to 9.6 if the tow trip to Adelaide is excluded.

All test figures have been measured at the fuel boswer against the trip meter, but the trip computer has always read at least five per cent pessimistic. This will help you avoid running out of fuel and doesn’t fill you with the false hope of many models which calculate fuel consumption optimistically.

So smaller capacity doesn’t necessarily mean lower fuel consumption, but the punchiness of the 1.5’s turbo is a real payoff every time you drive it. 

The Escape may not be the latest and greatest in several areas, but it’s certainly above average in most. We've really put it through the ringer over the past six months, and it hasn't shown any signs of weakness. The cheapest Trend would make a solid choice if you’re in the market.

Start date: July 2017
Distance travelled: 2037km
Odometer reading: 16948km
Average fuel: 9.4L/100km (at the pump)

Pricing guides

$31,879
Based on 206 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$19,880
Highest Price
$39,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
AMBIENTE (AWD) 1.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $28,820 – 34,760 2018 Ford Escape 2018 AMBIENTE (AWD) Pricing and Specs
AMBIENTE (AWD) (5 YR) 1.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $24,750 – 30,580 2018 Ford Escape 2018 AMBIENTE (AWD) (5 YR) Pricing and Specs
AMBIENTE (FWD) 1.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,880 – 24,990 2018 Ford Escape 2018 AMBIENTE (FWD) Pricing and Specs
AMBIENTE (FWD) (5 YR) 1.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $22,550 – 27,830 2018 Ford Escape 2018 AMBIENTE (FWD) (5 YR) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Malcolm Flynn
CarsGuide Editor

Share