Ford Escape: Timing is everything

If you find the Escape is the car for you and you come across a good deal on a 2016 model, and all you really need is a reliable daily driver with good driving dynamics and a decent radio, go ahead and save yourself some money.

  • Ford Escape


    • WHAT’S BEST: Just the right balance of size, handling, and powertrain customizability for most average urban and suburban families.
    • WHAT’S WORST: Interior feels noisy and less refined than competitors.
    • MOST INTERESTING: The 2.0 L EcoBoost is among the most powerful engines available in the affordable compact CUV segment.

Canadian car buyers are choosing crossovers more than anything else these days. And the Ford Escape is at the top of the heap: it was this country’s bestselling crossover last year and the fifth-most sold vehicle overall. If you’re currently in the market for a small CUV, the Escape is very likely on your shopping list.

2016 models are currently being cleared out at cut rates to help dealerships make room for the upcoming overhauled 2017 edition, which will feature some very important updates and new features.

How important are those changes, really? Should you buy now and take the deal or wait a few months for a richer feature list? The answer depends on exactly what you need your car to do for you.

RELATED: 2016 Toyota RAV4 now available as a hybrid

One thing you won’t have to live without in the 2016 version is Ford’s new infotainment system, Sync 3. The Escape is one of the first models to benefit from the update, which replaces the unpopular previous generation powered by MyFord Touch.

While the new system isn’t perfect, it’s a significant improvement. Sync 3 is faster, easier to use, and has better voice recognition than MyFord Touch. The changes bring the system on par with most competitors and is markedly better than many.

However, waiting a little longer will pay off for those who appreciate quality connectivity. Sync 3 in the 2017 Escape will come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, which essentially replicate your phone’s functionality on your car’s infotainment screen, and will also be able to create an in-car Wi-Fi hot spot.

RELATED: Apple CarPlay – A New Experience While Driving

Ford joins a growing list of car manufacturers integrating these features. 2017 Escapes will have them right away, but buyers of 2016 models will need to wait until late this year to receive the necessary updates.

The 2017 edition will also come with Sync Connect, which lets you start and lock or unlock your vehicle from anywhere using your smartphone, and that technology doesn’t have backward compatibility plans in the works.

There are further worthwhile improvements in the 2017 model. The 2016 Ford Escape SE tester I drove was comfortable, and as one of the smaller compact crossovers around, I enjoyed its nimbleness and versatility in city driving. But the instrument cluster is a touch gaudy, and the interior lets in a fair bit of noise from outside.

On the other hand, spending time sitting in 2017 models at this season’s auto shows revealed that the new dash and centre console layouts are more ergonomic and refined. And while sitting on a show floor isn’t the same as driving along a noisy highway, it did seem as though the cabin in the new Escape is going to be a fair bit quieter.

The ecoconscious will also appreciate that 2017 will bring two new EcoBoost engines to the Escape lineup, a 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre twin-turbo, and both will receive (arguably overdue) auto start-stop technology that shuts the engine off when the vehicle stops and starts it up when it needs to begin moving again. Ford says this system will improve fuel economy by four to six per cent in stop-and-go traffic.

If you find the Escape is the car for you and you come across a good deal on a 2016 model, and all you really need is a reliable daily driver with good driving dynamics and a decent radio, go ahead and save yourself some money.

But if connectivity, green driving, and a quiet interior are important factors in your buying decision, save your pennies and hang on for a few months, if you can. You’ll find good things come to those who wait.

How is Sync 3? 

Ford has begun rolling out its new Sync 3 infotainment system, which promises faster performance, better voice recognition, and a more intuitive interface than the outgoing system powered by MyFord Touch. Here’s what we thought after giving it a spin for the first time.

Home screen

Right from the home screen, there are clear signs of improvement. Text and icons are larger and easier to navigate at a glance. Unlike MyFord Touch, which had white text on a black background and was hard on the eyes, Sync 3 uses black text on light blue that switches to white on black only in darker conditions.

Nav main screen

The map on Sync 3’s navigation screen is large, fast, and easier to use. Finger swipes can be used to move the map around and examine the area surrounding your route. Map data seems more fulsome and more apt to find obscure locations.

Phone main screen

My Sony Xperia Z3 connected to Sync 3 with no issues, and users of other platforms report similar success. The phone interface is easy enough to use but will get even better once Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. Ford’s 2017 models equipped with Sync 3 will have it right away, but owners of 2016 models will need to wait until late this year for an update.

Incoming text screen

Sync 3’s text messaging feature is very useful for those who text often or spend a lot of time on the road. An alert pops up when a message arrives, and the driver can opt to have the system vocalize it if the car is in motion or to read it on screen when at a stop. The driver can call the sender back or select from a list of preprogrammed responses to answer safely without needing to pull over to type.

Settings screen (911 assist, Wi-Fi)

Tucked into the settings menu are two key features: 911 Assist, which will automatically contact emergency services if you’re in an accident, and Wi-Fi, which allows the car to connect to a hot spot to perform its own system updates (as opposed to creating a Wi-Fi hot spot of its own for passenger use, which is a feature arriving on 2017 models).

Voice command home screen

Sync 3’s voice command system is the most important improvement. MyFord Touch had a habit of requiring long command sequences and several repetitions before the driver would get what he or she was looking for. Sync 3 better understands voice inputs and takes fewer steps to achieve results.


2016 Ford Escape

PRICE: $23,699 to $32,199

ADD-ONS: Destination and delivery, $1,690; delivery allowance, $500

TYPE: Two-row compact CUV

PROPULSION: Front-engine, front- or four-wheel drive

CARGO: 971 L behind second row; 1,920 L behind front row

ENGINE: 2.5 L I4, 1.6 L EcoBoost I4, 2.0 L EcoBoost I4

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic

POWER/TORQUE: 168 hp @ 6,000 r.p.m., 170 lb-ft @ 4,500 r.p.m. (2.5 L I4); 173 hp @ 5,700 r.p.m., 184 lb-ft @ 2,500 r.p.m. (1.6 L EcoBoost); 231 hp @ 5,500 r.p.m., 270 lb-ft @ 3,000 r.p.m. (2.0 L EcoBoost)

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 10.9 L/100 km city, 7.6 hwy (2.5 L I4; regular fuel); 10.1 city, 8.9 hwy (1.6 L EcoBoost FWD; regular fuel); 10.9 city, 7.9 hwy FWD, 11.4 city, 8.4 hwy 4WD (2.0 L EcoBoost; regular fuel)

BRAKES: Power 4-wheel disc

TIRES: 17” to 19” available

STANDARD FEATURES: Emergency brake assist, post-crash alert system, tire pressure monitoring, keyless entry.

ACCESSIBILITY: On par with the segment.

COMPETITION: The Toyota RAV4, which starts at $24,990, has a 2.5 L I4 that makes 176 hp and also introduced a new hybrid version for the 2016 model year. The Honda CR-V starts at $26,190 and has a 2.4 L I4 that produces 185 hp, but it’s starting to get a bit long in the tooth.


LOOKS: Charming in their ubiquity and slightly dated, which is to be expected with a new model just around the corner.

INTERIOR: Quality is on par with the segment but layout, noise, and instrument cluster are improved in the coming version.

PERFORMANCE: Quite good for the segment; both EcoBoost engines offer a good balance of responsiveness and fuel economy.

TECHNOLOGY: On par for the segment in safety and convenience features; the addition of Sync 3 is a notable improvement.

RATING: The 2016 edition is a good everyday runabout for the average family, but those who care about connectivity and interior layout should hold out for the 2017 model.

SCORE: 7.5/10.


Show Comments