2023 Ford Escape Platinum AWD

The Ford Escape has been a popular compact crossover since its introduction more than two decades ago because of its peppy performance, good fuel economy, comfortable and roomy cabin, and user-friendly tech. However, the segment has grown much more competitive in recent years. While the Escape is still a solid offering, it’s not the top contender that it once was.

Base Price: $37,465
As Tested: $41,965
Horsepower: 250
Mileage: 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined

The five-passenger Escape was introduced for the 2001 model year. It was Ford’s first crossover. It got a makeover for the 2020 model year and gets refreshed for 2023 with a redesigned front and back, an updated infotainment system, standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and new trim levels. It’s available as a traditional gas-powered vehicle as well as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

It’s reported that the Escape is one of the gas-powered models Ford plans to discontinue by the end of 2025. This probably shouldn’t be a big surprise due to the popularity of the similar but more outdoor-focused Ford Bronco.

The gas-powered 2023 Ford Escape comes in six trims: Base, Active, ST-Line, ST-Line Select, ST-Line Elite, and Platinum. Starting prices range from $28,000 to $37,960. Front-wheel drive is available on the standard on the Base, Active and ST-Line trims and standard on the upper trims.

The Plug-in Hybrid starts at $40,500.

The gas-powered Escape has three powertrain options. The Base, Active and ST-Line trims get a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that makes 180 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available.

The ST-Line Select and higher trims get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 250 horses and 280 pound-feet, paired with the eight-speed. All-wheel drive is standard.

These trims are also available with a hybrid powertrain that has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and a CVT. Total output is of 192 hp and 155 pound-feet.

The Plug-in Hybrid gets a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a 14.4-kWh battery pack. The transmission is a CVT. Total output is 210 hp and 155 pound-feet. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is not available with this powertrain. The PHEV has an all-electric range of about 37 miles.

My tester has the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This Escape has nimble handling for the class. Acceleration is brisk whether you’re driving around town, traveling up hill, or merging and passing at freeway speeds. Steering is a bit light but the Escape corners well with little body roll. The eight-speed shifts smoothly most of the time, but sometimes struggles to find the right gear. The ride quality is firm but not jarring, and the suspension does a good job in soaking up most bumps. While the Escape isn’t the liveliest performer in the class, it’s very pleasant to drive in most situations.

Fuel economy is good for a compact SUV. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with a combined rating of 26. I got 27 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

When properly equipped, the Escape can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

The cabin is spacious and comfortable. However, it’s not as upscale as some rivals. There’s a fair amount of hard plastics mixed in with the soft-touch materials, and the attention to details isn’t always sharp. Seats are supportive and adults in both rows have decent leg- and headroom. The rear seats slide forward and back so taller adults can maximize legroom. The standard eight-inch or available 13.2-inch infotainment system dominates the dash.

Standard features include remote keyless entry, rearview camera, cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, eight-inch digital gauge cluster, infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Available features include remote start, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, head-up display, auto-dimming rearview mirror, digital rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth and vinyl upholstery, leather upholstery, eight- or 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, infotainment system with 13.2-inch touchscreen, navigation, 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, satellite radio, two additional USB ports, wireless device charging, universal garage door opener, interior ambient LED lighting, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a panoramic sunroof.

Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and driver-attention monitoring, and Ford’s MyKey which lets you control your vehicle’s safety settings for others such as your teen drivers. For example, you can set audio and speed limits for those drivers.

Available driver assistance technologies include stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, lane-centering assist, evasive-steering assist, intersection assist, low-speed reverse automatic emergency braking, traffic-sign recognition, rear parking sensors, and hands-free park assist.

The 2023 Escape gets Ford’s SYNC 4 infotainment system. This system looks great with sharp graphics and responds quickly to touch and voice commands. Menus are logically laid out. Buttons and knobs make it easy to adjust audio and climate settings. However, the larger touchscreen has fewer physical controls.

Cargo space is good for the segment. There are 37.5 cubes with both rows of seating in place, and 65.4 cubes with the second row folded. The low floor makes it easy to load and unload – I had no trouble loading huge bags of kitty litter and dog food. The rear seats split-fold 60/40 and also move forward and back so you can maximize space. A manual liftgate is standard and a power liftgate is available.

The good:

Roomy cabin

Several powertrain options

Lively acceleration

Pleasant driving dynamics

Good fuel economy

Roomy, comfortable cabin

Many standard features

User-friendly and attractive infotainment system

Standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

Lots of cargo space

The not-so-good:

Eight-speed doesn’t always shift smoothly

Cabin not as upscale as some rivals

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $37,465. The panoramic vista roof is $1,595. The Premium Technology Package with a head-up display and Active Park Assist is $1,910. The discount for the 2.0-liter Ecoboost is $500. Destination fee is $1,495 bringing the grand total to $41,965.

Bottom line:

The 2023 Ford Escape is a decent and practical compact crossover and checks a lot of boxes for what families want. It has a roomy cabin, several different power train options including a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, good fuel economy, a user-friendly infotainment system, and is good value for the money. Still, this category has exploded with many worthy rivals so you’ll want to shop around before making your choice.

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