2015 Ford Escape

What's new for 2015? For 2015, the Ford Escape sees just a very minor shuffling of equipment.

A compact crossover typically stands out among its peers about as much as an Emperor penguin does while chilling on an ice floe with a hundred or so of his mates. Yet the 2015 Ford Escape manages to not only distinguish itself with its chiseled good looks, but also garner critical praise thanks to its sharp handling, comfortable seating and high-end interior touches.

Based on the same platform as the Focus, this Ford shares its smaller sibling's solid build quality, versatility and athletic demeanor. There's also a choice of no fewer than three engines: the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a pair of turbocharged fours. Of the latter, one displaces 1.6 liters and is focused on maximizing fuel economy while the other, at 2.0 liters, provides V6-like performance while still achieving impressive fuel mileage ratings.

That welcoming cabin we spoke of is furnished with high-quality materials and some impressive standard features, such as a rearview camera, an iPod interface and Ford's Sync voice-control system. We'd suggest opting for the slick-looking (though occasionally finicky) MyFord Touch electronics interface that not only makes the 2015 Ford Escape feel like a more expensive car, but is also superior to the standard interface of form-over-function buttons under a smallish display screen.

Exterior Highlights
Compact crossover SUV available in S, SE and Titanium trim levels

The 2015 Ford Escape is a compact crossover SUV that comes in three trim levels: S, SE and Titanium.

The S comes with 17-inch steel wheels, an integrated blind-spot mirror, MyKey parental controls, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seat, a rearview camera, the Sync voice command electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

Options on the S include remote start, roof rails, rear privacy glass and rear parking sensors.

Upgrading to the SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, automatic headlights, foglights, a keyless entry keypad, rear privacy glass, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), upgraded cloth upholstery, a rear center armrest and satellite radio.

The optional SE Convenience package adds roof rails, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, an 8-inch touchscreen with the MyFord Touch electronics interface, upgraded Sync services (including smartphone app integration) and a nine-speaker sound system. Picking the Leather Comfort package gets you heated mirrors, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and heated front seats. Also available as individual options are 18-inch wheels, the parking sensors, remote ignition, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, a cargo cover and a navigation system.

At the top of the line, the Titanium combines the content of the SE Convenience and Leather Comfort packages plus 18-inch wheels, remote ignition, keyless ignition and entry, the power liftgate (with hands-free operation), ambient interior lighting, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat (with power lumbar), driver memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a Sony 10-speaker sound system with HD Radio.

Options include a Titanium Technology package (xenon headlights, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, automatic wipers and an automated parallel-parking system), 19-inch alloy wheels and the panoramic sunroof and navigation system.

Generously padded seats, large and easily read gauges, reclining rear seat, rearview camera, hands-free liftgate

Up front in the cabin the Escape provides a pair of well-shaped, generously padded seats that ensure proper comfort and support. Materials and overall fit and finish are excellent. The gauges are large and easily read. But while most controls are intuitive. The optional MyFord Touch does a good job of controlling the car's various audio, phone and navigation functions and nicely complements the Sync voice controls.

There's a competitive amount of room inside the Escape, even in the reclining rear seat, which has plenty of head- and legroom. The wide front seats are generously padded, with ample adjustment and good seatback bolstering. Cargo space behind the rear seats measures a competitive 34.3 cubic feet, and the squared-off roof line allows for a bigger dog to fit inside (only a few compact SUVs can claim the same). Flipping the rear seats down via a one-touch lever opens capacity up to 68.1 cubes, about average for the segment. A helpful option on the Escape is the hands-free power liftgate that opens with a wave of your foot under the rear bumper (as long as you have the key somewhere on you).

Antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, a driver knee airbag and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on the 2015 Ford Escape. Ford's MyKey (which allows owners to set vehicle parameters for younger drivers), a rearview camera and blind-spot mirrors are also standard. Rear parking sensors are optional on the S and SE and standard on the Titanium. A blind-spot warning system with cross-traffic alert is optional on the Titanium.

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