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2015 Ford Escape Review

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This 2015 Ford Escape overview explains changes for the model year, provides a summary of the 2015 Ford Escape, and includes Ford Escape safety, reliability, and fuel economy information.

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What is the 2015 Ford Escape?

When the compact Ford Escape SUV debuted for the 2001 model year, it was the first crossover SUV from the automaker. Today’s model remains closely related to that original Escape, though updates over the years mean the 2015 model distinctly different. Still, the time has come for an all-new model, which is scheduled to arrive for 2015.

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What’s New for 2015?

Because Ford is preparing to introduce a completely redesigned Escape based on the Vertrek concept vehicle, the Escape carries over unchanged for 2015.

Trim Levels and Features

For 2015, the Ford Escape is sold in XLS, XLT, Limited, Hybrid, and Hybrid Limited trim levels. The least expensive model is the XLS, and it comes with more than just the basics. In addition to common fare such as a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power door locks with remote keyless entry, power windows, and air conditioning, the Escape XLS is equipped with power blind-spot side mirrors, alloy wheels, a CD player, an auxiliary audio input jack, and Ford’s MyKey technology, which allows owners to program limits for speed and stereo volume, in addition to other vehicle settings. The XLS can be optioned with four-wheel drive, an automatic transmission, floor mats, and Ford Sync wireless technology.

The Escape XLT is the most popular model. It includes an automatic transmission and floor mats, along with dark tinted rear glass, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an outside temperature display, and a compass. The driver sits on a power-adjustable seat facing a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the XLT is equipped Ford’s SecuriCode keypad entry system, roof rails, automatic headlights, and fog lights. An XLT model can be outfitted with optional leather, heated front seats, a navigation system with a reversing camera, a premium sound system with HD Radio, Ford Sync, a power moonroof, and a towing package. A Sport Appearance Package is also available, adding a rear spoiler and blacked-out exterior trim.

The Escape Limited is set apart by unique brushed aluminum wheels, additional chrome detailing, ambient cabin lighting, and special interior trim. It comes standard with leather upholstery and heated front seats, as well as with Ford Sync. Exclusively available on the Escape Limited are a dual-zone automatic climate control system, parking sensors, an Active Park System feature, and chrome wheels. Additionally, the Limited can be upgraded with navigation, a reversing camera, premium audio with HD Radio, a power sunroof, and a towing package.

Hybrid models are modeled on the Escape XLT, but they come standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, Sync, and a 110-volt power outlet. The Limited version of the Escape Hybrid includes the same standard features found on the regular Limited model, plus a reversing camera system, a power sunroof, and rear parking sensors. Either Hybrid model can be optioned with a navigation system and HD Radio. A power sunroof is optional on the standard Hybrid model, while the Hybrid Limited is offered with Active Park Assist.

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Under the 2015 Ford Escape’s Hood

The 2015 Ford Escape offers your choice between three different powertrains. On all but the Hybrid models, a 2.5-liter, 171-horsepower four-cylinder engine is standard. The XLS comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, while the six-speed automatic that’s optional on the XLS comes standard on XLT and Limited models. A 240-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 engine with flex-fuel compatibility is optional on the XLT and Limited models, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is optional on all Escapes.

As expected, fuel economy is better with the four-cylinder engine. Final EPA figures for 2015 were not available when this review was published, but it is instructive to note that last year this engine returned anywhere between 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, depending on transmission and drive system. The V6 delivered between 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway last year.

If those fuel economy numbers aren’t good enough, the Escape Hybrid’s lowest fuel economy rating last year was 27 mpg on the highway with four-wheel drive. The best it would do was 34 mpg in the city with front-wheel drive. That’s because it pairs a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle gasoline engine and an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery pack. Combined, the system is good for 177 horsepower, and the Escape Hybrid can operate at lower speeds solely on electricity.

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Safety and Reliability

With six airbags, traction control, stability control, and antilock brakes, the 2015 Ford Escape includes a fairly typical package of safety features as standard equipment. Choose the right trim level, and you can also get rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

When it comes to crashworthiness, it is clear that the time has come for a new Escape to start rolling off the assembly line. Remember, today’s model has structural engineering that dates back to calendar year 2000, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Escape receives an overall crash protection rating of 3 Stars. The Escape does manage a 4-Star frontal-impact rating for the front seat passenger, and a 4-Star side pole impact test rating, but we find the Escape’s 2-Star rating for driver protection in a frontal impact quite worrisome.

In tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Escape achieves the highest possible rating in frontal-, side-, and rear-impact injury prevention. In the roof crush strength test, the Escape turns in a Marginal performance.

When it comes to reliability, Consumer Reports predicts the Escape lineup will be average, with the Hybrid models performing slightly better that gas-engine versions. J.D. Power had not issued ratings for the 2015 Escape as this review was published, but expected last year’s model to perform slightly better than average.

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Fun Facts

There are a few things you should know about the 2015 Escape in more detail. For example, the Escape offers greater off-road capability than most crossovers, as it was originally designed to be a true crossover SUV and not just a car equipped with an SUV body.

The Escape’s standard MyKey technology allows parents to program limits for certain vehicle systems. For example, a lower maximum speed with graduated warning chimes can be set, the maximum level of stereo volume can be reduced, and the ability to shut off the traction and stability control functions can be eliminated. Ford also provides a way for the Escape to sound a consistent seatbelt chime until the all occupants are buckled up.

The available Sync technology is about more than just making and receiving hands-free calls or operating an iPod through the Escape’s stereo. It comes with 911 Assist technology, which puts occupants in touch with a live operator in the event of an airbag deployment. If the Escape’s passengers cannot respond, the operator can send emergency personnel directly to the Escape’s location to provide help as quickly as possible.

Ford offers an Active Park Assist system on the Escape, an unusual feature at any price point but especially this SUV’s. Active Park Assist uses sensors on the front and rear bumpers and automatically steers the Escape into a parallel parking space while the driver operates the pedals and the transmission. It is available on the Limited and Hybrid Limited models.

Finally, most Escapes are equipped with eco-friendly seating materials. The fabric on the XLT and Hybrid models is made of 100-percent post-industrial recycled materials, and the seat cushions are constructed of polyurethane foam derived from the oils of plant seeds.

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