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2019 Ford Escape ST Line AWD EcoBoost – Car Review – The middle of the road

2019 Ford Escape ST Line AWD EcoBoost – Car Review – The middle of the road

Now in its third generation, the Ford Escape has proven to be a well-rounded cost-effective family car. Sitting right in the middle of the market, the Escape range offers customers a wide range of options. 

We were keen to see what the latest Escape had to offer, and how the new EcoBoost engine performed.

The Range
The Ford Escape has seven variants across 4 trim levels available in New Zealand. There are two front-wheel drive and five all-wheel-drive models. The four trims levels available are Ambiente, Trend, Titanium, and ST-Line. 

Pricing across the entire range starts from $38,480 and goes up to $49,495 plus on-road costs. Starting with the two FWD variants the Escape Ambiente FWD EcoBoost from $38,480 and the  Escape Trend FWD EcoBoost from $41,990. The rest of the range are AWD models, starting with the Escape Trend AWD EcoBoost from $44,990, Escape Trend AWD Diesel from $46,490, Escape ST-Line AWD EcoBoost from $49,495, Escape Titanium AWD EcoBoost from $53,490 and finishing up with the Escape Titanium AWD Diesel from $54,990.

For a mid-range mid-size SUV, the list of standard features is impressive, which only grow as you step up through the range. Standard feature available for the Ambiente model include active city safe, cruise control with adjustable speed limiting, rear-view camera with rear parking sensors, smart key with keyless start, hill launch assist, electric power-assisted steering, torque vectoring control, daytime running lights, dual climate control, leather steering wheel, 8.0” colour touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation and SYNC 3 Bluetooth connectivity.

The Trend spec adds in blind spot information system, intelligent AWD, privacy glass for rear passenger and black windows, automatic headlights, headlights follow me home, power-adjustable auto-folding mirrors that are heated with side indicators and puddle lamps, rain-sensing wipers, roof rails, rear-view mirror with auto-dimming and leather gearshift

Titanium and ST-Line go a little further and both get active park assist, adaptive cruise control, sensors – front parking, smart key – keyless entry and start and a premium audio system with 9 speakers.

However, there are several features that are solely available for the Titanium only, they are adaptive cruise control, driver alert driver drowsiness detection, forward alert, lane-keeping aid, headlight automatic high beam, headlight adaptive Bi-xenon HID, rear LED taillights, tailgate – hands free power tailgate, panoramic power roof, ambient lighting, front heated seats, 6 way manual passenger seat, 10 way power driver seats, and leather trim

And for the ST-Line alone you get sports suspension, sports body kit, rear spoiler, dual chrome tailpipes and partial trim – Salerno leather. 

The list of options for all Ford Escape variants can be found on the Ford New Zealand website. LINK


First Impressions
I had seen plenty of Ford Escapes around but never gave them much notice. They are not a bad looking vehicle, nor are they loud and attention-seeking. I quickly realized I was wrong about the attention-seeking comment, as I saw that the Escape I would be testing. It was bright red, a colour Ford called Race Red. It was rather loud, and in the sunlight, it changed from red to blood orange. I could see this colour being a love/hate thing.

The model I was collecting was the top of the range ST-Line AWD EcoBoost, which is the more sporty looking of the range. The ST line comes with all black trim, black grille surrounds, and black roof bars and a set of 19” dark grey alloy wheels. 

Overall it was a nice looking vehicle, I would not have chosen the red myself, maybe Frozen White or the darker Ruby Red. 

The Inside
Inside, the Escape has a clean modern feel, boarding on a bit chunky in areas, but overall it’s good. I really liked how the driver information cluster was set lower into the dash, which means the front screen felt bigger and more open. The info in the driver’s cluster was well presented too, with a nice menu that showed you not only one bit of info, but traveled distance, fuel economy, real-time fuel use and range in one display menu. I like to have more info displaying, compared to cycling through pointless menus. 

Seating in the Escape is a mix between and car and an SUV. I can see that a lot of people will like this, those who like the idea of an SUV, but are not keen on their overall size. The front driver and passenger’s seats are both upright, resembling the seating position of a normal chair. With the low access of the Escape, it’s pretty easy to just step in and out of. The seats had a good solid feel to them, with nice bolster support too, with a mixture of leather and suede, giving them a bit of a sporty feel.

Rear seat space was pretty impressive for a midsize car, as the front seats did not need to go back due to their upright position. I was able to sit in behind my own tall driver seat position without any difficulty.

I am on the fence with Ford’s central media display system. It’s current and old school at the same time. I mentioned this in my review of the Endura; it’s a full-colour screen, but they only use white and blue, which feels 80’s. Time for a refreshing, modern look here Ford. The system itself is ok, giving me access to audio, phone, navigation and mobile apps. My only bugbear was that when my phone connected each time, the recent call list got refreshed. It’s like the car only gave you the recent call list you made from the car, not from your phone, which was kinda useless.

The audio system is another kettle of fish, it’s really good. Most of the time I am a bit of an easy listening kinda guy, but I will play a few specific tracks to keep the audio tests controlled between vehicles. The 9-speaker premium audio system in the Escape is much better than I would have expected.

The front cabin also lacked additional storage locations. The central console was big and chunky, due to the high position of the gearstick. This left no room for anywhere to put your phone, keys or wallet. You only really had the door pockets and the central console cup holders to use.

Speaking of the gearstick, why is it so high? This also got in the way of the air conditioning controls. It did feel odd where it was, more an industrial position than a consumer vehicle. Even trying to take a photo of the air-con controls I had to put the gear stick into drive to pull it out of the way – not something I have had to do before.

The boot was ok, bit smaller then I would have hoped for. Some space is lost on either side from the rear wheel arches. There were two small hooks on the left and right side, which could be useful for keeping bags upright when there is not a lot in the boot. The rear seats fold down with a 60/40 split to the right-hand side. Once down space grows to an impressive 1603 liters, which is a pretty good size for a midsize SUV.

The Drive
The engine if the 2.0L inline 4-cylinder with EcoBoost. This engine is able to produce 178kW of power and 345Nm of torque – not bad for a small 4-cylinder engine, EcoBoost combines turbocharging and direct injection technology to maximise power from every compression. This gives you lots of low-end torque for effortless take off when under an every-day family load. The engine’s performance made it feel like it was a bigger engine, the only indication it isn’t is the sound. The sound was also my only negative point about this engine. The Escape is no Mustang, nor is it trying to be, but there is a noticeable whirring from the engine’s turbo which I was not a fan of. It was not annoying, but due to the cabin’s built quality and sound insulation, it became something you were always aware of. It may just be a personal thing, and won’t bother anyone who tests it.

The Escape is not an exciting vehicle to drive, but it’s not trying to be either. I found my time in the Escape rather good. It’s a pretty smooth ride and handling, a little body roll and sharp steering. It’s light on its feet and pretty sprightly too when you want to give it a bit of power. I was not in love with the Escape, but don’t mind driving it either. This was a really good, everyday runabout. 

Fuel economy was ok, if not a bit higher than expected. Over the week I had the Escape, I managed a 60/40 split of city and motorway driving, which achieved a combined average of 11.7 L/100km. That’s a damn sight higher than the 8.6 L/100km that’s advertised. I was pretty confident if I had emptied the tank over the week it would have been lower as there are several other features targeting fuel efficiency. The Escape has Auto Start-Stop which works really well, 90% of the time I didn’t even take much notice of it, very smooth start-up. It also has active grille shutters, which close to reduce aerodynamic drag and opens to cool the engine. 

The Competition
Overall the Ford Escape offers up a pretty good package while being really good value. Sitting around the bottom of the top-spec mid-size SUV’s, it’s one you can’t really afford to ignore and test drive.

Mid size SUV (5 Seats)

Brand / ModelEnginePower kW/NmFuel L/100kmNumber of seatsBoot Capacity LitresPrice Highest to Lowest
Volkswagen Tiguan TSI R-Line AWD2.0-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder162/3507.85615$65,990
Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4WD3.2-litre, V6 petrol200/31510.25N/A$64,990
Mazda CX-5 Takami AWD2.5-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder170/4208.25455$61,495
Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD1.6-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder130/2657.75488$59,990
Holden Equinox LTZ-V AWD2.0-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder188/3538.25846$57,490
Skoda Karoq TSI Sport Line FWD2.0-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cylinder140/3207.65521$55,990
Ford Escape ST Line AWD2.0-litre Turbo Ecoboost178/3458.65406$49,495
Nissan Qashqai Ti2.0-litre 4-cylinder106/2006.95430$44,990
ProsCons
Clean, modern interior
Build quality
Smooth ride
Good seating positions
Open and spacious interior
Good leg room for rear
Great headroom for all
Nice visibility all around
Good value
Gearstick was too high,
Gearstck blocked air con controls
Central console display felt a bit dated
Turbo whirring from engine
Lack of interior cubby spaces
Location of cruise control buttons

What do we think?
I sometimes feel I can be hard on a car with things like how the central media screen looks. However, we do see and test a wide range of cars and have to say what we feel.

The Escape is a middle of the road sort of vehicle for me. Apart from the colour, It has some pros, it has some cons, but overall it ticks many of the standard boxes that the average Joe looks for.

I can see this car ticking many of the right boxes for small families, looking for a practical, no-fuss daily driver.

Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5

2019 Ford Escape ST Line AWD EcoBoost

Vehicle TypeAll-wheel drive 5-door SUV
Starting Price$49,495
Price as Tested$49,495
Engine2.0-litre Turbo Ecoboost
Power, Torque178/345
Transmission6-speed automatic transmission
Spare WheelSpace Saver
Kerb Weight, Kg1,777
Length x Width x Height, mm4524 x 2086 x 1736
Cargo Capacity, litres406 1603 (second row seats down)
Fuel tank capacity, litres60 
Fuel Economy, L/100kmAdvertised Spec – Combined – 8.6L / 100kmReal World Test – Combined – 11.9L / 100kmLow Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing CapacityKg, unbraked/braked750/1500
Turning circle, metres11.1Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
 Warranty5 year unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Ratings5 Star

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