Driven: 2017 Ford Escape SE

2017 Ford Escape is company's second-best seller | Ford photos
2017 Ford Escape is company’s second-best seller | Ford photos

The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling automotive apparatus in the United States for going on 3 1/2 decades. That comes as no surprise. However, I was surprised to learn that Ford’s second-best seller is its compact crossover utility, the Escape.

I might have thought it would be the Mustang, or even the Focus. Turns out, it’s the Escape.

Photos show the top-end Titanium trim, not the SE
Photos show the top-end Titanium trim, not the SE

I also was surprised that the 2017 Ford Escape SE I’ve been driving for the past week is part of a 2017 model that Ford reports was “significantly updated” and now features “more of what customers said they really wanted — the latest driver-assist technologies, connectivity, and two new fun-to-drive, efficient EcoBoost engines.”

Perhaps, but were I one of those customers, I’d also want a vehicle with a lot less mechanical noise as part of the package. Compared with other compact crossovers I’ve driven in the past couple of years, the new Escape sounds and feels less finished, less sophisticated, as if it came from another era, back when you could hear the various mechanical bits at work.

I was impressed at the spunky 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, which responds eagerly to driver input. I also like the way the engine shuts itself off at stoplights, immediately restarting as you release pressure from the brake pedal.

As for all those driver-assist technologies and connectivity, they come at a price.

Base price on the Escape SE is $25,100. SE is the middle of three Escape trim levels.

Opt for the 2.0-liter engine instead of the standard 2.5-liter normally aspirated or 1.5.-liter EcoBoost four and it costs you an additional $1,295. Voice-activated touch-screen navigation is another $795, and an optional equipment group 201A adds the SE technology package, Sync 3 and Sync connect, reverse-sensing system, blind-spot warning and roof-rack side rails for another $1,395 (and what do roof rack side rails have to do with technology?).

A power liftgate is another $495, a panoramic vista roof is $1,495 and leather seating surfaces adds another $1,595, which brings the cost of all the options on this vehicle to $7,665, or a 30 percent markup over the base price.

And the Escape I’ve been driving was not equipped with such driver-assist technologies as the available adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, self-parking technology, lane-keeping system, or a system that recognizes when the driver might be getting drowsy.

Opt not for those options and you get about 170 horsepower, fog lamps, automatic headlamps, LED tail lamps, fold-down rear seat, dual-zone climate control, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, tilt and telescoping steering column, curve control assist, rear-view camera, AM/FM/satellite audio system and a full array of airbags.

2017 Ford Escape SE

Vehicle type: 5-passenger crossover utility vehicle, front-wheel drive
Base price: $25,000 Price as tested: $33,660
Engine: 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, 245 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm, 275 pound-feet of torque @ 3,000 rpm Transmission: 6-speed whatever
Wheelbase: 105.9 inches Overall length/width: 178.1 inches / 72.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,613 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 22 city / 29 highway / 25 combined
Assembled in: Louisville, Kentucky

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