INDIA

Ford’s answer to the Toyota RAV4

The Blue Oval’s mid-size SUV gives Aussie families an alternative to big name vehicles such as the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.

The Ford escape isn’t a household name, it is outsold by family favourite the Toyota RAV4 25 to 1. But those looking beyond the top sellers won’t be disappointed.

Here is everything you need to know about the Ford Escape.

VALUE

Ford’s mid-size Escape SUV range kicks off at about $40,000 drive-away. It costs $2000 extra to jump up to the sporty ST-Line version and then about $9000 more to get into the luxury focused Vignale.

The ST-Line and Vignale have a choice between front and all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive costs $3000 extra.

Most models are powered by a punchy turbocharged petrol engine.

The ST-Line grade is available as a plug-in hybrid, which is about $15,000 more than the petrol-powered ST-Line.

We are testing the Vignale AWD, which is priced at about $54,300 drive-away. It is the most expensive petrol-powered variant.

The Escape is a handsome SUV with smooth styling. It feels and looks smaller in the traffic than rivals such as the Toyota RAV4. Chunky 19-inch alloy wheels add a bit of bling.

Inside you get an eight-inch touchscreen that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This paired with a 12-inch digital instrument display and 10-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo.

A head-up display projects your speed and the prevailing speed limit onto the windscreen for easy viewing.

Ford covers its vehicles with a five-year/unlimited km warranty and servicing is reasonably priced at $1501 over five years.

COMFORT

Passengers are greeted with faux leather wrapped seats with contrast white stitching. The front pair are heated and the driver’s is electronically adjustable. The back window seats are also heated.

There is great forward vision and the driver sits high in the traffic.

The back seat isn’t the roomiest, but it has enough head and leg room for average sized passengers.

A rotary style gear selector frees up space in the centre console and there are easy to use physical climate and audio controls, but the overall layout feels a bit dated.

The cabin fit out is pleasant with a mix of hard and soft touch materials and some wood veneer inserts.

The boot is big at 556 litres and the back seats can be folded to increase cargo space to 1478 litres. A hands-free tailgate adds to the convenience.

Well sorted suspension irons out most bumps and lumps on the road but road noise can be intrusive, especially over coarse chip surfaces.

SAFETY

Ford has gone all in on safety.

The Escape will automatically brake if it detects a potential collision with a car, pedestrian or cyclist.

It’ll pull you back into your lane if you wander and keep an eye out for cars in your blind spot. It will also brake if it senses a passing car when your reversing out of a parking spot.

DRIVING

Power comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine making an impressive 183kW and 387Nm. You’ll struggle to find a mainstream SUV with that much grunt.

The Escape isn’t express off the mark, but it has effortless acceleration that makes overtaking on the freeway a simple affair.

The eight-speed auto works well with the engine, flicking through the ratios to keep the engine humming along and drinking as little fuel as possible.

All-wheel drive grip keeps the SUV composed in wet weather and on twisting country roads. Light and direct steering add to driver confidence.

It’s an able highway cruiser, eating up the kays on longer road trips. It feels agile in traffic and is easy to park.

Fuel use is rated at 8.6L/100km, which is OK for a vehicle this size.

VERDICT 3.5/5

Sweet steering SUV with a great engine and a long list of standard equipment. It is expensive, though and the cabin lacks pizzazz.

ALTERNATIVES

Mazda CX-5 Akera Turbo, priced from about $54,200 drive-away

Grunty turbo engine and luxurious cabin fit out. A bit thirsty.

Kia Sportage GT-Line petrol, priced at $51,990 drive-away

Spicy turbocharged petrol engine and plenty of wow tech features inside. Dual-clutch auto is jerky around town.

Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid, priced from about $53,800 drive-away

Plenty of zip off the mark and impressively fuel efficient. There is a waiting list of up to nine months, though.

FORD ESCAPE VIGNALE VITALS

Price: About $54,300 drive-away

Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol, 183kW/387Nm

Warranty/servicing: five years/unlimited km, $1501 over five years

Safety: auto emergency braking, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert with auto braking, lane-keep assist, rear seat occupant alert and traffic-sign recognition

Fuel use: 8.6L/100km

Spare: Space saver

Cargo: 556 litres

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