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The Ford Escape gets a major facelift and refresh for the 2017 model year. Despite riding on the same platform as the 2016 version, the new 2017 Escape looks and feels quite different thanks to a new front fascia, a major reworking of the interior and a couple of new engines. The front end of the 2017 Escape has been redesigned to look less busy, sleeker, with a prominent grill and sharp, attractive headlights. Inside, the materials are virtually all new, with several features moved around a bit for better ergonomics. Also improving ergonomics is a new "media bin" that should fit phones and media devices, as well as provide them with a USB port to plug into. While the base 2.5L 4-cylinder engine carries over from last year, the two turbocharged uplevel engines are new for this year.
The 2017 Ford Escape is offered in S, SE and Titanium trims, with three different engines and with most models offered with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Base S models are only offered with front-wheel drive, and they come with a 168-horsepower, 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. The SE and Titanium are standard with a 181-horsepower, 1.5L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, while a 2.0L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that makes an impressive 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque is optional.
All models come with a SelectShift 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. Several technologies help the Escape not only tackle slick road conditions but also improve cornering. Curve Control and Torque Vectoring Control help improve stability, while the new "Intelligent" 4-wheel drive system in 4-wheel drive models uses sensor inputs to actively act to maintain stability, utilizing an electromagnetic clutch system to send power to the wheels where traction is needed most.
Although off-roading isn't how most Escape buyers will use the SUV, it can handle gravel roads and modest forest trails just fine; and when properly equipped, it can tow up to 3,500 pounds. On all models, 4-wheel disc brakes provide strong stopping power, while an electric rack-and-pinion steering system is precise and well-weighted.
The Escape's rakish design doesn't get in the way of interior space either. The model has supportive bucket seats in front with a good view out, as well as space for three across in back. There's a generous 34.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the back seat--thanks to a low, 2-position cargo floor -- and that can be expanded to 68.1 cubic feet by flipping forward the second row seatbacks.
Escape S models come with a generous list of features for a base model, including air conditioning, Sync voice command, Bluetooth connectivity, remote keyless entry, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, a 6-speaker audio system and a rearview camera system. The SE model adds upgraded exterior trim, a center console with armrest, dual chrome exhaust, a keyless entry keypad, Sirius Satellite Radio compatibility, fog lamps, upgraded upholstery, a 10-way driver's seat, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Finally, the top-of-the-line Titanium comes with remote start, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, silver roof rails, a 10-speaker Sony stereo, Sync 3 infotainment system, a media hub with SD card reader and video inputs, a garage-door opener, 18-inch alloys, rear parking sensors and heated side mirrors.
Sync 3, which is also optional on the SE, is a Blackberry-based touchscreen system for connectivity and infotainment that allows the pairing of a smartphone or media player for phone calls, music, navigation and vehicle settings all through the touchscreen, steering wheel controls or voice commands. It responds to pinch and swipe gestures much like smartphone and tablet screens, for easy navigation.
An active park assist system will "see" a parallel parking space and actually steer the vehicle into the spot while the driver modulates the accelerator and brake. The BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert prevents accidents by helping the driver spot other unseen vehicles. An available hands-free tailgate system only requires that the drive 'kick' their foot under the rear bumper.