What’s New for 2014
The 2014 Ford Escape undergoes minor adjustments to its feature availability. Notably, a rearview camera and Sync are now standard on all trim levels. The Titanium trim no longer gets the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine as standard, though Ford has dropped its price as a result. The SEL trim level has been discontinued.
The 2014 Ford Escape stands out as one of the best small crossovers in a segment full of worthy entries. Completely redesigned last year, the Ford Escape remains one of our favorite compact crossover SUVs. It has sharp handling, handsome styling and high-end interior touches that help justify its marginally higher price in this class.
You don’t have to look at the 2014 Ford Escape for very long before you start to think it looks like a pumped-up Ford Focus, and with good reason. The Escape is based on the same platform as the Focus, and it shows in the sleek styling. We love the Ford Focus for its quality, versatility and superb driving character, and those traits translate well to the Escape package. Sure, the Escape is heavier than a Focus, but it still has a nicely controlled ride and goes around turns with a surprising level of agility.
Ford offers a trio of four-cylinder engines on the 2014 Escape. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which is a pretty typical offering for a small crossover, provides adequate performance. But what help distinguish the Escape in this class are the available 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter turbocharged engines. The 1.6 provides more power and better fuel economy than the 2.5, while the 2.0 cranks out 240 horsepower and has only slightly lower EPA fuel economy ratings than the smaller 1.6.
The Escape’s interior is furnished with high-quality materials, and when it’s equipped with the slick-looking MyFord Touch electronics interface, it feels as if you’re driving a much more expensive car. The downside to that, however, is that MyFord Touch can be finicky to use at times, as we’ve noted slow response times and inconvenient glitches in the vehicles we’ve tested. Besides that, ticking all the option boxes pushes the 2014 Ford Escape’s price above its direct rivals. Keep the equipment level reasonable, though, and it represents solid value in this class.
In the category of small crossover SUVs, there are of course other choices. The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 don’t have the same engine selection as the Escape, but they’re both roomier inside and enjoy better reputations for reliability. The sporty Mazda CX-5 is also worth a look, as are the comfortable Chevrolet Equinox, stylish Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and outdoorsy Subaru Forester. But overall, the 2014 Ford Escape is a desirable small crossover that gets just about everything right.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 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, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 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 and rear parking sensors.
Upgrading to the SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, a keyless entry keypad, privacy tinted glass, an eight-way power adjustable driver seat (with power lumbar), reclining rear seats and satellite radio.
The optional SE Convenience package adds roof rails, rear parking sensors, dual-zone 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 and heated front seats. Also available as individual options are 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate 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 start, keyless ignition/entry, the power liftgate (with hands-free operation), ambient interior lighting and a Sony 10-speaker sound system. Options include a Titanium Technology package (xenon headlights, blind-spot monitoring/cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers and an automated parallel-parking system), 19-inch alloy wheels and the panoramic sunroof and navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard and available only on the S is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 168 hp and 167 pound-feet of torque. The SE and Titanium come standard with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 178 hp and 184 lb-ft. Optional on the SE and Titanium trims is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that pumps out 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque.
A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and all but the S are available in either front- or all-wheel-drive configuration (the S is front-wheel-drive only). In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive Escape with the 2.0-liter engine ran to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds. A front-wheel-drive Escape 1.6 did the same sprint in 9.4 seconds. Properly equipped, an Escape with the 2.0-liter turbo engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Fuel economy estimates for the 2.5 are 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. The 1.6-liter turbo with front-wheel drive earns 23/33/26, while the 2.0-liter turbo with front-wheel drive rates 22/30/25. All-wheel-drive versions rate 1-2 mpg less.
Antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, a driver knee airbag and full-length curtain-type airbags are standard on the 2014 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.
In government crash tests, the Escape earned an overall rating of four stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for total frontal-impact crash protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Escape a top score of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The front and rear seats have plenty of head- and legroom. Seat padding and bolstering is comfortable and firm without being too stiff. Cargo space in the 2014 Ford Escape is average for the segment, falling between the CX-5 and the CR-V. With the rear seats folded up, there are 34.3 cubic feet of space; folding down the rear seats increases that space to 68.1 cubic feet. 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).
Dash and center console materials are attractive, and overall fit and finish is excellent. The steering wheel is shared with the Ford Focus and enhances the Escape’s sporty feel, while offering useful audio controls besides. The location of the climate controls is awkward, though, as they’re placed low on the center stack and the gear selector impedes access.
Nor are we fond of the optional MyFord Touch system. The 8-inch main display controls various audio, phone and navigation functions via voice (Sync), touch controls or buttons on the steering wheel. It’s a smart idea in theory, and it does provide some nice customization and smartphone integration possibilities. Unfortunately, there’s a learning curve involved for the user, and even with Ford’s recent updates, we’ve found the system prone to glitches and slow to respond. In addition, many of the touchscreen icons are difficult to locate and press while on the move.
Performance ranges from average with the 2.5-liter and turbocharged 1.6-liter engines to downright spirited with the 2.0 turbo. Although most owners will be perfectly content with the acceleration and fuel economy they get with the 1.6-liter turbo, there’s no denying that the 2.0-liter turbo is satisfying, particularly on hilly roads: It pulls the Escape up steady grades without breaking a sweat, whereas the 1.6-liter would need an extra prod of the gas pedal or a downshift (or both) in these situations. The good news is that the turbocharged engines are equally quiet and smooth.
Blessed with quick steering, relatively sharp reflexes and an advanced all-wheel-drive system, the 2014 Ford Escape provides sporty handling and traction through turns. Overall, it’s one of the better-handling small crossovers available. These abilities don’t come at the expense of ride comfort, either, as the Escape maintains a stable, isolated demeanor over bumps and when cruising on the highway.