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Ford Escape 2021 review: ST-Line FWD

Looks good, doesn't it? Yes, it's a Ford Escape, and yes, it's a mid-size SUV.

The new Ford Escape has undergone a complete transformation. No more bulky back end or awkward angles, this newly designed Escape looks much more refined and also has been designed to use more interior space without the exterior seeming large. 

I test drove the Ford Escape ST-Line FWD, which is in the middle of a range of three and costs from $37,990, before on-road costs (there's also an AWD version for $40,990). It competes with cars like the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 - even though they feel like much larger cars, they are not. 

Here’s how the Escape ST-Line did over seven days, which included a long weekend away three hours out of Sydney, with my family of four.

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What does it look like? 

It’s a cool looking car that appears much more sleek than the last model which was boxy and square-ish without much style. The new Escape is longer and wider but with a lower roof height. Smoother corners and elongated headlights bring the design together and it feels cohesive, fresh, and much more modern.

It’s a cool looking car that appears much more sleek than the last model. It’s a cool looking car that appears much more sleek than the last model.

The inside feels good, also. There are fabric seats on this model which is always a little disappointing when you first get in, and then you feel how comfortable they are which makes it instantly fine. 

It does have a leather steering wheel and the centre console, while basic and mostly in matt black, is well designed and functional. 

There are some aluminium accents with a metallic looking dash and it’s mostly man-made materials for the interior, but it doesn’t come off as cheap looking, you still feel good driving this car on the road. 

How spacious is it?

I was a tad apprehensive about taking the Escape ST-Line on a long weekend and having to jam all of our stuff into the boot but was very pleasantly surprised.

It has a deceptively large interior. It has a deceptively large interior.

It has a deceptively large interior. The front seats are comfortable and there was enough leg and head room even for the taller members of my family. 

The kids (aged seven and nine) fit easily into the back seats with space for their backpacks that held their toys and entertainment for the road trip. 

The kids (aged seven and nine) fit easily into the back seats. The kids (aged seven and nine) fit easily into the back seats.

I could also sit back there at 161cm (5'3") and there was loads of room between my knees and a taller person’s driving position, so other adults and tall teenagers will be happy in the rear seats, also. 

The second row also slides forward to give the boot more space and it can go between 412L and 526L which proved ample for two suitcases, plus grocery bags, a giant slip 'n' slide, a large blow up pool for the end of the slip 'n' slide (it was a big hill!) and a few other boxes and bits and pieces. 

The second row also slides forward to give the boot more space and it can go between 412L and 526L. The second row also slides forward to give the boot more space and it can go between 412L and 526L.

It will easily fit a pram and you’ll be fine with most sporting equipment for after school activities. 

How does it drive?

The Ford Escape ST-Line has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine which drives quite nicely. 

I don’t mean to keep saying the car kept pleasantly surprising me, but the car kept pleasantly surprising me. It was a smooth drive, it had enough power to get up hills quickly and was also good on the open road when I needed to overtake. 

The Ford Escape ST-Line has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine which drives quite nicely.  The Ford Escape ST-Line has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine which drives quite nicely. 

It feels responsive and quick on the take-off, there’s no heavy feeling and it’s also quite agile in traffic. The steering is almost too responsive - it turns instantly and quite far when you turn the steering wheel, so learning to drive in this car would be interesting! But it is one of those things you get used to quickly. 

Parking is great, even though this new model is slightly longer than the last, it’s still not huge so you can fit in most parks and the reverse parking camera is decent. It also has a small-ish turning circle which makes it easy to slide into parking spots. 

How easy is it to use every day?

This middle ground model has manually adjustable front seats, but makes up for them with a button to open and close the boot. 

There are two cupholders in the front - actually three. It looks like two but then you notice the tiny espresso sized space in the middle, so it’s three. 

Conveniently, I drink a piccolo, so I actually used this. It’s got a good sized centre storage bin and there are bottle holders in each door. 

There are two cupholders in the front - actually three. It looks like two but then you notice the tiny espresso sized space in the middle, so it’s three.  There are two cupholders in the front - actually three. It looks like two but then you notice the tiny espresso sized space in the middle, so it’s three. 

There’s also a wireless charger, but it wasn’t very effective and only charged my phone an extra 10 per cent on the entire three hour drive. 

Because it’s a little lower than other mid-size SUVs, it’s easier to get into and my children didn’t have to treat it like a jungle gym. 

What’s the tech like? 

The 8.0-inch colour touchscreen is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - luckily, because the Ford interface feels old and clunky.

With CarPlay and Auto you can navigate via your maps app and stream music/books/podcasts with the relevant apps from your phone. 

The 8.0-inch colour touchscreen is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 8.0-inch colour touchscreen is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

How safe is it? 

How much does it cost to own? 


The Wrap

I was pleasantly surprised by the Ford Escape ST-Line FWD. The revamp is a major improvement on the last model and really puts it in contention in the mid-size SUV market. It’s spacious inside with customisable boot space, looks great on the road and drives really well. Plus it has the safety and tech you’re after for a family in 2021. 

I gave it a family rating of 7.7 out of 10 and the kids gave it the same, they loved playing their music through CarPlay on the road trip.  

Likes

New stylish design
Powerful engine in this category
Spacious interior

Dislikes

A little pricey
'Quick' steering
Poor wireless charging

Scores

Nedahl:

3.9

The Kids:

3.9

$35,990 - $46,990

Based on 19 car listings in the last 6 months

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