Nissan Qashqai VS Ford Escape
- Looks sharper
- Still good to drive
- Standard safety gear
- Still no CarPlay/Android Auto
- Highway tyre noise on the 19-inch wheels
- CVT could be less flarey
- Strong engine
- Fun chassis
- Good equipment
- Squidgy front seats
- Awkward touchscreen
- No extra power
Nissan's Qashqai has achieved something remarkable. After enduring a name change for its second generation (it used to be called Dualis), it has maintained its strong popularity among Australian buyers who are switching en masse to SUVs.
The compact SUV market is becoming increasingly crowded - the Dualis had few competitors on its release but today's Qashqai has 27 of them. The Nissan has seemingly brushed off all-comers, consistently and persistently battling with the Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V.
It's mid-life update has arrived and as night follows day, MY18 supercedes MY17, with new additions to the safety list, a farewell to diesel power and a detail-focussed update to the range.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Ford Escape had a bit of a false start a few years back before things were put right with a facelift and an interior sorting-out to bring it into the game. With the endless rise of the SUV, makers now have to find ways to attract a few more punters - or a few more dollars per punter.
The idea of adding performance-inspired variants isn't new, of course - hatchback ranges are now awash with GT-line and other 'GTI-lite' variants which seems to be working quite well, thanks very much.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Qashqai's MY18 update is subtle but effective. It had a good base to start with, so it was all about detailed improvements. Ride and handling are better, it looks a bit more modern, the safety gear is improved and the exit of the diesel won't upset too many people.
As for which Qashqai is best, it's probably the ST-L - a good mix of spec and price make it our pick. As a range, it's likely the Qashqai will continue to sell as well as it has, despite stiffening competition. It has a solid reputation, well-judged spec and it can carry people and things in comfort and reasonable style.
The Qashqai's mid-life update is upon us - does it keep it in the hunt as pressure builds from Japan, Korea and Germany?
The Escape ST-Line is the second of its name I've driven and again after the Focus, I've come away liking it. While there's no full-fat ST to help make sense of the brand, it's nice to have a mid-size SUV that isn't German come to the party with a bit of driver appeal (okay, technically it is German...).
I think the Escape is a bit underrated and it's sadly inevitable that the ST-Line will suffer the same fate. But, that's the warzone that is Australia's SUV market.
Does the Escape ST-Line have enough oomph to grab your attention? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The exterior design has been left largely alone, with just a small amount of surgery to bring it up to date with current Nissan thinking. There's a new iteration of the 'V Motion' grille, revised headlights and more interesting bumper designs front and rear.
The cabin is largely the same - beautifully built, most of the materials are pleasant to the touch if not exactly an aesthete's delight. Everything is well laid-out, the dash is clear and the switchgear all perfectly pleasant.
The space is well proportioned, too and with the big sunroof, flooded with light, so it doesn't feel the slightest bit tight or claustrophobic, quite a feat in a car this size.
The Escape exited the womb as Kuga but was renamed in line with Ford's expanding SUV range. They start with E, you see - Everest, EcoSport etc. In fact, I had an Escape a while back that still had Kuga sill plates such was the speed of the change.
The Escape is a reasonably familiar sight on our roads but it's not exactly selling the way, say, the Mazda CX-5 does.
To this base, the ST-Line adds a set of dark finish 19-inch alloys, blacked out grille, fog-lamp surrounds, roof rails and rear valance. It's fairly mild. The lower ride height does help, though. It could look a bit meaner, but that's not really the point of the ST-Line brand.
Inside you have the same seats as the rest of the range along with red stitching on the shifter and steering wheel. A set of alloy-face pedals, stainless steel kick plates and ST-Line floor mats complete the changes.
The interior is otherwise unchanged, and that's no bad thing, except we have to talk about the touchscreen. It works really well and is a good size but the awkward angle of the surrounds make it hard to hit the targets. It's a bit of an own-goal because otherwise it's very good.
Rear legroom is good, with enough room behind my driving position for folks of up to 185cm. There is tons of headroom front and rear even with the panoramic sunroof of the higher model spec. The interior dimensions mean four adults can cheerfully fit, with its light airy design (evident in the photos) made even brighter if you've got the full-length sunroof open.
Cabin storage includes up to four cupholders (ST and ST-L miss out on a rear armrest, so no vessel holding back there) and four bottle holders. The glove box easily swallows the owners manual.
The Qashaqi's boot space is nearly number one in its class, bettered only by Honda's HR-V. With 430 litres, it has the luggage capacity for a family getaway and the size for every day needs such as shopping or carrying the kids and their gear around.
Drop the 60/40 split fold back seats and you're in dangerous territory if you live near an Ikea - the space almost triples to 1596 litres and somehow people put these two facts together and your weekends are lost - although I guess it depends how much you like helping people.
The Escape is one of the roomier mid-size SUVs, although it doesn't quite match the interior flexibility of the VW Tiguan. Rear seat space is generous, with good head and legroom and plenty of foot room.
The tailgate opens high and wide, which is handy for loading up. The boot will take between 406 litres (rear seats up) and 1603 litres (rear seats down). There are four cupholders - two up front and two in the rear armrest, with bottle holders in each door. The central armrest bin is deep and accommodating, and there are a few good spaces for stashing loose bits and pieces.
Price and features
The MY18's launch will see four Nissan Qashqai models on the price list: the ST, ST-L, N-TEC and Ti. The N-TEC will be with us throughout early 2018 when the advanced safety technology of the Ti becomes available. The current plan is that the N-TEC will disappear when that happens.
The 2018 Qashqai introduces a number of new features as standard across the range. All of them now have forward collision warning, auto emergency braking and lane departure warning. These are in addition to front and rear parking sensors and the reversing camera carried over from the 2017 models.
Pricing hasn't moved very much, meaning how much you pay for a Qashqai has only changed due to the new spec level and the end of the diesel models. The ST is up by $500, the ST-L and N-TEC don't really have obvious counterparts given the demise of the diesel and the petrol Ti is $1000 more. Having said that, the ST-L is $1000 cheaper than the old TS.
Pricing for the ST range opener kicks off at $26,490 for the manual and $28,990 for the CVT auto. Rolling on 17-inch alloys, the ST has a six-speaker stereo, cruise control, cloth trim, keyless entry and start, air-conditioning and a space saver spare tyre.
The ST's sound system is powered by a 5.0-inch touchscreen and features an AM/FM radio, CD player, MP3 player and you can connect your iPhone or Android device via USB or Bluetooth. Sadly - and this goes for the whole range - there is not yet Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support.
Next up is the ST-L, starting at $32,990. On top of the ST spec you'll get 18-inch alloys, roof rails, fog lights, electric and heated folding mirrors, GPS sat nav, partial leather seats, heated seats, electric drivers seat and around-view cameras (as well as the normal reversing camera).
The infotainment screen is pumped up to 7.0-inches and DAB+ digital radio joins the list.
The gadgets list expands with the N-TEC, which will stick around until the Ti's arrival. Priced from $36,490, this one includes 19-inch alloys with fatter tyres, LED headlights (in addition to the LED daytime running lights), dual-zone climate control to replace the standard AC, auto headlights and wipers, panoramic sunroof, rear centre armrest, auto parking and mood lighting. The safety list expands with blind spot monitoring, high beam assist and reverse cross traffic alert.
The $37,990 top of the range Ti will land sometime before the middle of 2018. Compared with the N-TEC, the Ti is basically the same but adds nappa leather interior, lane keep assist and active cruise control.
Should the N-TEC be wildly successful, would it stick around? We asked, but Nissan wouldn't speculate. The reason for the Ti's late arrival is related to production availabilty of the lane keep assist and active cruise combination.
As for the colour choices, there are now eight colours for the Qashqai. As before, 'Ivory Pearl' (white) and 'Pearl Black' are no extra cost. The remaining colours - 'Platinum' (a light grey silver), 'Gun Metallic' (dark grey), 'Night Shade' (a sort of purple blue) and 'Magnetic Red' all cost $495. The new 'Vivid Blue', which is exactly what it sounds like, is new to the range and is also $495.
Those looking for more exotic colours like orange or gold will sadly miss out and the earthy tones of brown are also unavailable.
For a more detailed comparison, see our model snapshots.
The ST-Line weighs in at $39,990 (plus on-road costs), an easy $5000 below the top-of-the-range Titanium. Standard are 19-inch gunmetal alloys, a nine-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, front and rear fog lights, sat nav, auto headlights and wipers, partial leather trim, heated and folding power mirrors and a space-saver spare tyre.
Our car had the absurdly good value 'Technology Pack'. For $800 it's a no-brainer because you score upgraded forward AEB for high speeds, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver attention detection, auto high beam, active cruise and tyre pressure sensors. Just a pity it's not standard, really. Also on board was the useful but debatable hands-free tailgate for $950.
Engine & trans
The petrol vs diesel decision is no longer part of the equation - as President Trump might say, diesel's ratings were low, with just under 10 percent of cars sold drinking the DERV.
Despite its availability in overseas markets, all-wheel drive is not available in Australia, perhaps because of the X-Trail's popularity (and close relationship to the Qashqai).
The only available engine is Nissan's 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol developing 106kW/200Nm. This neatly side-steps any turbo problems as it's a fairly straightforward sort of engine. As far as engine size goes, it is consistent with its Mazda rival, the CX-3 which also runs a 2.0-litre petrol.
The manual gearbox is a six-speed (just three percent of buyers choose to change their own gears) and mated to the same (MR20DD) engine. For those interested, this engine employs a chain rather than timing belt.
For CVT-equipped cars, the towing capacity is 1200kg for a braked trailer and a very specific 729kg for unbraked, so you can haul a decent load.
As with 4 wheel drive, an LP gas fuelled Qashqai is also a non-starter from the factory.
Engine specs across the segment aren't remarkably different - some are smaller turbo engines, but most around the 1.8 to 2.0-litre mark. The Qashqai's acceleration performance figures for the 0-100km/h dash are around ten seconds (CVT). Kerb weight ranges from 1343kg for the manual ST to 1429kg for the Ti.
Oil capacity is 3.8 litres and the recommended oil type is 5W-30.
The offical combined cycle fuel economy figure for the 2.0-litre are 7.7L/100km for the manual and 6.9L/100km for the CVT. On test, which was partly highway and a good chunk of Victorian back roads, our fuel consumption figure was a neat 8.0L/100km.
Fuel tank capacity is 65 litres.
Ford reckons you'll use 8.6L/100km on the combined cycle. In the real world, including a roughly 200km round trip run from Sydney up to the Blue Mountains we recorded 10.2L/100km.
The only drama is that it runs only on 95 RON premium unleaded. Having said that, it's obvious rivals do too if they have anything like the available power of the Ford engine.
The Qashqai has always been near the top of the class when it comes to ride and handling if not quite there for off-road ability - front-wheel drive and the absence of hill descent control pretty much nixes any muddy fun ambitions. Nissan doesn't quote a wading depth, so that should also tell you it's not for rock-hopping.
Front suspension is by McPherson struts while the rear is a multi-link set-up, something you expect from the next segment up. The MY18 features firmer springs, retuned damping and stiffer anti-roll bars. Out on the flowing country roads outside Daylesford, the new set-up wasn't remarkably different to the old, but the body felt slightly better-controlled without ruining the excellent ride.
On 18-inch wheels, road noise seems lower. Part of that comes from additional sound-deadening and some thicker glass in the rear. The wing mirrors still whistle faintly, but it's nothing the stereo can't handle, and you'll really only hear it at speed.
Switch to the 19s as fitted to the N-TEC (and Ti), and all those efforts seem defeated - there's some tyre roar at highway speeds, attributable to both the lower profile of the tyres and their extra width. The ride doesn't seem to suffer though, and it's a pleasant place to be in suburban and city traffic, soaking up the bumps quietly and smoothly.
Unladen ground clearance measures 186mm, which is among the higher-riders in the class and it was quite at home on a deeply-potholed back road. It was perhaps a little firmer than expected over the gravel, but the surface was very poorly-maintained and resembled the Ypres battlefield. Despite only driving the front wheels, it felt secure, the torque vectoring system helping keep it on the straight and narrow. The turning circle is usable if not tight at 10.7 metres.
It rides well, but what's the engine like? I won't lie, I'd like a bit more horsepower, but in a drag race, the Qashqai is going to be pretty much neck and neck with most of the cars in the segment.
In the cruise it's a quiet engine and the CVT keeps the revs low until you floor it for an overtake, which you will need to do. Then the engine winds up with the CVT keeping it on the boil to make the most of engine specs. Around town both engine and gearbox are unobtrusive.
Like the Focus ST-Line I drove a little while ago, the Escape has no more power than any other car in the range. A hot SUV it isn't. The changes are restricted to the bits that make the car handle and grip, and even then, it's not a lot.
The ST-Line rides 10mm lower and has stiffer anti-roll bars to further rein in any body roll in the corners. Critically, the gunmetal 19-inch alloys are wrapped in Continental Sport Contact tyres, which is not the sort of rubber you expect on a mid-size SUV. This is a good thing.
One of the key changes to the ST-Line is the steering. The last time I drove an Escape I was struck by the inert steering. Things are much improved in the ST-Line, with a much more involving set up letting you know what's going on underneath.
As a day-to-day proposition, it's a very comfortable machine. I feared for the squishy feeling of the front seats but this was unfounded - a long day at the wheel yielded none of the fidgetiness soft seats can cause.
The lower ride height also makes it quite easy to get in and out of and it's an easy car to manoeuvre apart from a big-ish turning circle.
That engine is as good as ever - strong, torquey and well matched to the six-speed automatic. The all-wheel drive system is also very happy to play ball, as it is in the Titanium with the same engine.
All Qashqais leave the Sunderland UK factory with at least six SRS airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, reversing camera, forward auto emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors and lane departure warning.
You can fit a baby car seat for your child using either one of the three top-tether anchor points or two ISOFIX points.
ST-L buyers pick up around-view cameras with moving object detection.
The N-TEC adds to the safety list with rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, park assist and drowsiness detection. Finally, the Ti's specifications include 'Intelligent Lane Intervention', which helps keep you in your lane if you drift towards the edge.
The safety rating is five ANCAP stars, regardless of model. It was last tested in 2014.
The ST-Line comes loaded with seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, lower-speed AEB, reverse cross traffic alert, blind spot sensor, reversing camera, rollover stability and forward collision warning.
The $800 Technology Pack adds high speed AEB, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver attention detection, auto high beam, active cruise and tyre pressure sensors.
Nissan offers a three year/100,000km warranty and your dealer will almost certainly try and flog you an extended warranty.
Those worried about service costs will be pleased to note that the MY18 Qasqhai capped price servicing regime is the same price as the previous year's. Service intervals remain at 12 months or 10,000km, with service prices bouncing around from $224 to $532 and averaging $307 over 12 services.
The Qashqai's resale value appears to be performing well and is as good as any in the compact SUV class. A good guide is to expect around 60 percent of the car's value to be retained over three years.
Owners seem to score it well for reliability, with few common faults reported. Searching for gearbox problems, clutch problems, cruise control problems or injector problems produce few results. As there is no longer a diesel option, searching for diesel problems is redundant.
Ford now offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty across the range. Roadside assist is via a membership to your local motoring organisation and if you service it with Ford, you get a 12-month extension.
Ford's 'Service Price Guarantee' program is a kind of capped-price servicing thing, with pricing for the services (every 12 months/15,000km) and some additional items. The first service is $350.