Give mundane transportation the slip in this compact SUV.

Ford Escape Review | CarMax

Well, which is the 2017 Ford Escape — a compact SUV or a compact crossover? It’s been described as both in Ford Escape reviews, actually; and Ford tucks the Escape into its “SUVs and crossovers” category alongside its Edge and Transit Connect vehicles. The 2017 Ford Escape is a smaller-sized people- and cargo-mover. And, at an average price of less than $20,000 at CarMax, models like the 2017 Ford Escape SE can be a more budget-friendly choice compared to the average prices of some other compact SUVs sold at CarMax, like the 2017 Honda CR-V (with an average price of less than $27,500) or the 2017 Toyota RAV4 (with an average price of less than $24,000).1

Our review of the 2017 Ford Escape

In this 2017 Ford Escape review, we’ll take a look at the Ford Escape in its different trims:

— and tell you about some of the Escape’s best features that helped put it at the top of our list of the best-selling compact SUVs of 2017. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be more confident about deciding whether an Escape is the right choice for you and your family.

What are some of the Escape’s best features?

Here are a handful of our favorite driver- and family-friendly features:

Ford Escape Review: Features | CarMax
  • Escape SUV owners get good gas mileage — the 2017 Ford Escape SE gets an EPA-estimated average of 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.2
  • There’s a powered liftgate on the 2017 Titanium Escape that you can activate with a foot-operated switch (the 2017 Escape SE’s liftgate is activated with your key fob).
  • Handling is assisted by Torque Vectoring Control, a system that applies the Escape’s front brakes independently of each other as you steer into a turn, and “pushes” power to each wheel as it senses the need for traction.
  • All 2017 Escape trims come with Ford’s Sync® 3 voice recognition infotainment system.
  • The Ford Escape Titanium can tow up to 3,500 lbs when properly equipped3, thanks to its 240-hp, four-cylinder engine.

What is the National Highway Transportation Safety Association safety rating for the Ford Escape?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Association gives the front-wheel-drive 2017 Ford Escape five stars overall. Certain vehicles may have unrepaired safety recalls. Click here to look up a specific vehicle.

How does the Escape drive and handle?

Ford’s very handy Torque Vectoring Control system might sound like a spaceship control system, but it’s actually a way of helping to improve handling — especially turning. This system, found in the 2017 Ford Escape, senses the vehicle making a turn and applies brake pressure independently to each front wheel.

Traction Control and Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive

The Escape also packs some extra traction while you’re out on the roadways. Many crossovers and SUVs today are optioned with all-wheel drive to assist with driving in heavy-weather conditions; Ford calls its own system Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive, and it helps to keep the Escape steady on rough roadways and uneven surfaces.

It’s available in some models, like the 2017 Ford Escape Titanium, and it helps you get to your destination in all kinds of rough weather.

With this system, the Escape’s onboard electronics constantly assess road conditions and transfer power to wheels that lack traction. This is a smart choice if you’re an outdoorsy type, or if you do most of your driving in states that get a lot of snow and wintry weather.

Interior Styling and Comfort

Ford Escape Review: Interior | CarMax

Another great Escape driving feature is its Auto Start-Stop system. According to fueleconomy.gov, an idling engine can burn as much as half a gallon of fuel per hour. Your time spent idling adds up, resulting in lower overall fuel economy.

With the 2017 Escape’s Auto Start-Stop feature (available in 2017 models with Sync® 3), you take your foot off the gas as you roll into an intersection, and once you stop, the car turns off. When you take your foot off the brake, the car starts up again, and you’re on your way.

This is a great way to help moderate your overall fuel consumption on shorter trips, while you’re running errands, or during your commutes.

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What are the differences between the Ford Escape model trims?

You can find a used Escape at CarMax in a number of trims, including the 2017 Escape S, Escape SE, and Escape Titanium models. The S and SE come with a solid list of attractive features; the Titanium is the top-level trim, and this model comes with extra features like a foot-switch-activated, powered rear liftgate as standard equipment. This makes access a breeze when your arms are full of groceries, kiddos, and other various and sundry what-have-yous.

Take a look at these 2017 Ford Escape pictures.

Ford Escape Review: Back-up Camera | CarMax

2017 Escape S and SE

Ford Escape Review: SE | CarMax

Where the 2017 Escape S is more of a base model trim (which includes features like a backup camera and traction control), the SE introduces more convenience to the list of 2017 Ford Escape interior features, like the heated front seats, leather interior, and all-wheel drive found on the 2017 Escape SE.

2017 Escape Titanium Package

Ford Escape Review: Titanium | CarMax

No 2017 Ford Escape review would be complete without a run-down on the top-level Escape trim. The Titanium package really gives you all the goodies, though; the 2017 Escape Titanium has a panoramic sunroof, automated parking assist, and a powered decklid you can activate with a wave of your foot.

Ford Escape Review: Titanium Panoramic Sunroof | CarMax

All 2017 Ford Escapes come with Ford’s Sync® 3 voice recognition infotainment system, so you can use your mobile device or your own voice to control things like your navigation and music. Sync® 3 lets you start your Escape remotely, and it includes an available, onboard Wi-Fi hotspot so family members can use their devices on the go.

Earlier Escapes, like the Ford Escape Limited, the Escape XLS, and the Escape XLT weren’t available after 2012.

Below is a breakdown of the 2017 Escape S, the SE, and Titanium trim packages.

Ford Escape Review | CarMax

How do the different Escapes perform?

A word about engines here: lift the hood of a 2017 Ford Escape and you’ll find yourself looking at one of three different four-cylinder engine options. There’s the 2.5L, 168-hp engine that’s available in base-trim Escapes like the 2015 Escape S.

There’s also a 1.6L motor option that’s turbocharged for a bit more horsepower (179 hp), like you’ll find in the 2017 Ford Escape SE. This engine is a good choice for maximizing your Escape’s fuel economy. According to fueleconomy.gov, the 2017 Ford Escape SE with a 1.6L turbo engine, automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive achieves an estimated 23 mpg in city driving and 30 mpg on the highway.2

For more pep in performance, there’s the third engine choice — a 2.0L, turbocharged four-cylinder, which gives you an impressive 240 hp. This last engine is available in the top-trim 2017 Escape Titanium edition. The 2017 Escape Titanium, with this larger engine and all-wheel drive, lets you tow up to 3,500 lbs when fully equipped3 — enough for you and your family to pack it with gear and a take small boat or trailer on vacation.

What are some similar compact SUVs that compare to the Escape?

If you’re looking for smaller vehicles in the compact SUV category, you’ve got choices. For starters, there’s the Kia Soul and the GMC Terrain, two compact SUVs with similar interior space and features. One of the 12 reasons we like the Kia Soul is its cargo space and its 200-hp turbocharged engine. The 2017 Kia Soul Turbo has 61 cubic feet of cargo space.

Other similar compact SUVs are, of course, the perennially popular Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. If you want to read more about these last two vehicles, check out our head-to-head review of the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. These are very capable compact SUVs; but according to our inventory (in September 2017), the Ford Escape has a lower overall average price, across all available trims, than the CR-V and the RAV4.1

A check of CarMax inventory shows that the Escape can indeed be a more cost-efficient choice when compared to these two vehicles.

Here are some average prices1:

For further comparison that includes pricing information, be sure to add these compact SUVs to your research list:

For even more compact SUV options, read our SUV buying guide, where we feature 15 compact SUVs and fuel-efficient SUVs.

The Escape vs. The Explorer and Expedition

If you’ve decided you need more space than an Escape offers, you’ve got options here too when you look at the larger SUVs from Ford. The Escape’s bigger brothers, the Ford Explorer and the Ford Expedition, offer more interior space and many of the same options as the Escape.

One of the most popular Explorer and Expedition features that’s not available on an Escape is the third-row seat. A 2016 Ford Explorer XLT with third-row seating lets you transport up to six passengers, and the 2014 Ford Expedition Limited seats up to eight.

If third-row seats are your thing, you can also check out the Ford Flex (the 2016 Flex has a cool, lowered-minivan look about it, and we really like the two-tone paint job!).

The bottom line

We hope this 2017 Ford Escape review gives you plenty of food for thought regarding the Escape as a solid choice for you if your family is on the smaller side and you want fuel economy, cargo space, and an option for all-terrain capability. If you don’t need all the extra space of a larger SUV and you’re budget-minded, test drive some Ford Escapes to see which trim fits the bill for your family.

1Average prices based on all Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4 models in CarMax inventory in September 2018 (not including hybrid or electric versions). Prices do not include tax, title, tags, and any applicable fees.
2Based on EPA estimates for vehicles when sold as new. See fueleconomy.gov. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history.
3Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
Unless otherwise noted, information relating to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.