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It’s a crossover war zone out there. It’s tough enough to pick what color you want let alone one what features, gadgets, trim levels and manufacturer. And Ford isn’t exactly helping offering three engines on their popular compact Escape. Choices can be profound and when trying to choose between a 168-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-liter or a 1.5-liter EcoBoost delivering 179-horsepower or the most powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost putting out 245-horsepower, you’d have to play the eeny-meeny-miny-moe game. Hopefully we can help with that decision making…

First things first the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is only available on the base Escape S – you can do better than that. New for 2017 the Escape SE and Titanium trim levels come standard with the 1.5-liter EcoBoost and can provide an option of all-wheel drive or front wheel-wheel drive. More choices. However, in the case of our Escape SE tester, it came with the top daddy that requires a $1295 upcharge, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost – all-wheel drive is available; however, ours came in front-wheel drive – guess that means we’ll avoid the snowy parts of the state this week.

In this segment of crossovers, they certainly love their eco-rated four-cylinders – this is where the Escape can shine through with its EcoBoost technology. Given that this 2.0-liter offers up 245-horsepower and a hefty 275-lb-ft of torque – it makes quite the spry little grocery getter. With a swift shifting six-speed automatic, it takes a little over 7 seconds to achieve highway speeds. Popping the gear lever down into sport mode enticed us to use the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters; however, we decided the engine didn’t need any help from that department.

Hosting a bunch of torque to just the front wheels which also requires to do the steering and braking can be a tough job. When calling up on the go getter pedal from a stop light to show those other mommy wagons what’s up, torque steer was well managed and controllable. Usually not being known to have sporty steering, the Escape is somewhat of a middle ground. There is no room for error through the weighted ultra-sensitive steering system with every maneuver occurring at your fingertips. It’s not what we’d call exciting, but it definitely provides a level of responsiveness we haven’t seen before in the crossover segment.

Rolling on 18-inches of aluminum not only added $595 to our $25,100 base price tag but also made the ride of our Escape a bit more noiser and aware of road conditions. 17-inch alloys come standard, however by upgrading to these 18’s provided less rubber where it counted most. Road noise was present and we counted every divot we managed to hit in the road. The chassis is already a tight one and it shows – but that doesn’t mean the ride is unlivable, it’s definitely comfortable and tolerable – just a little more attentive.

2017 includes new updates into the Escapes overall architecture with some fresh headlamps, a sculpted grille, and lower fascia details, as well as some new design cues in the back with LED taillights. It’s a look that definitely stands out and has some handsome, more aggressive attributes. This year also changes the SE Technology Package, also noted as Equipment Group 201A to include projector beam halogen headlights with LED daytime lights, Blind Spot Information System and the new SYNC3 infotainment system that now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on top of the already included rear parking sensors, and roof rails.

Additional changes were made to the interior cabin space by reworking the center console and lowering the gear lever that helps have a more ergonomic flow. The steering wheel, infotainment center stack, and dual zone climate control system now offer a friendlier setup of buttons that’s easier to use and navigate. These little changes make the cabin of the Escape much more at peace and easy to live with. Our sampler however took the SE trim to the next level of comfort with the $1595 Leather Comfort Package that brought in, well, leather, heated seats, 10-way power adjustable passenger seats and a leather steering wheel and shift knob. Natural light was also able to fill the cabin with the $1495 Panoramic Vista glass roof – I mean, who does love a good size sunroof.

The Ford Escape is one of the crossovers that in the end, one could be happy with over the next several years. It’s a comfortable crossover with plenty of space, plenty of power, and somewhat efficient fuel with the new Auto Start/Stop. After tackling on $7665 in options, include the $495 power lift tailgate – this Escape SE out the door was only $32,765. At the end of the day it’s all about numbers, and that number seems fitting for a well outfitted crossover that ends up having a little bit of sport in its utility.

Vehicle Specifications:
2017 Ford Escape SE Base Price: $25,100
As Tested (including Options & Destination): $33,660
Performance Specs:
2.0L EcoBoost 4-Cylinder – 245-Horsepower, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±7.0 seconds
EPA MPG: 22/29/25 (city/highway/combined) – SSB Average:  23 MPG’s – Fuel Range: 320 Miles