2018 Ford Escape Review


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2018 Ford Escape Overview

Currently in its third generation, the Ford Escape compact crossover SUV competes with the likes of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Hyundai Santa Fe. Despite its adventurous-sounding name, the Escape is more of a large, lifted hatchback than a true off-roader, as it comes standard with front-wheel drive (FWD) and only offers all-wheel drive (AWD) as an option. It received a new engine and a new nose last year, so it enters 2018 largely unchanged. Available in S, SE, SEL, and Titanium trims, the 2018 Escape starts at just under $24,000, but loaded models can run well over 30 grand. A separate hybrid model—the Escape Hybrid—is also available and was actually the first hybrid SUV to enter the market back in 2004.

The base powertrain for the 2018 Escape is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 168 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. That makes for fairly disappointing performance in a car of this size, and it gets the worst fuel economy of the lineup at 21 mpg city, 29 highway, and 24 combined. Last year saw the introduction of a turbo 1.5-liter 4-cylinder powertrain for the SE trim that, despite its small size, puts out 179 hp and 177 lb-ft. Its power comes in lower in the rev range than the base engine and it’s also the most fuel frugal of the bunch, with EPA figures of 23, 30, and 26 with FWD and 22, 28, and 24 with AWD.

The Escape’s range-topping engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that’s much more potent than the other two at 245 hp and 275 lb-ft and will hit 60 mph in about 7 seconds. Even with all the extra grunt from the larger turbo, fuel-economy isn’t that much different at 22, 29, and 25 with FWD and 20, 27, and 23 with AWD.

The Escape is offered in either FWD or AWD configuration with the exception of the base engine, which comes exclusively with FWD. The only available transmission is a 6-speed automatic, and turbocharged models receive paddle shifters. All Escapes also have active grille shutters for smoother airflow across the nose, and turbocharged models have a stop/start function for saving fuel in traffic. Although it’s technically an SUV, the current-generation Escape drives more like a zippy hatchback than some of its peers, with firm steering and relatively little body roll. An available tow package adds a trailer sway control function.

Inside, the 2018 Escape comes standard with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, cruise control, a 6-speaker stereo, and a 4.2-inch display screen with Ford’s Sync infotainment system. The SE trim comes with satellite radio, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats, while the SEL further adds leather upholstery, a power tailgate, and an 8.0-inch screen for the infotainment system. At the top of the range, the Titanium trim receives an upgraded 12-speaker Sony stereo system, a sensor for the liftgate, ambient interior lighting, keyless ignition, and several active safety features. Interior room for the 2018 Escape is decent but unremarkable for its class, with 34 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 68 cubic feet with the seatbacks folded.

The Escape is also decent but unremarkable in its crash-testing performance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2017 model top Good results in most areas but only an Acceptable score in the small-overlap frontal test, while the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA) awarded the 2018 model a 5-star overall rating. Every Escape is equipped with a reversing camera and the MyKey system, which allows the owner to place limits on the vehicle’s maximum speed and other functions. Optional safety tech includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, parking assist, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping alert.


Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a Formula Vee. After receiving history degrees, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.

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