It’s the second year running for the Ford Escape’s recently updated design. Has it improved enough to become an obvious buy, or has Ford missed the mark? Let’s find out.
What’s New With The 2021 Ford Escape?
The extremely popular Ford Escape got a major revamp in 2020, and, after a confusingly short (or long?) year, Ford has lifted the covers off its latest iteration.
Having recently received a facelift, the 2021 Ford Escape has only undergone slight design changes, and, for the most part, the exterior has remained the same. So, if you liked last year’s curvy design, you can still enjoy it in 2021. On the other hand, if you weren’t a fan of some of the colours, there’s good news! The 2021 Escape comes in four new colours (we like the Ingot Silver, in particular).
The real changes, however, are inside and on the underside of the car. The biggest change is the expansion of the hybrid powertrain to all three trims (we’ll return to this later). Modifications have also been made to the chassis, giving the 2021 Ford Escape more spacious front and rear seating as well as increased headroom (13 mm in the front and 35 mm in the back).
Below is a list of the key features introduced in the 2021 Ford Escape:
- Speed-sign-recognition-enabled adaptive cruise control
- Hands-free electric tailgate
- 0-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory settings for the driver’s seat and exterior mirrors
- Class II Trailer Tow, allowing the Escape to tow up to 3,500 pounds
- 19-inch wheels with a new design
- Keyless entry
- LED ambient lighting
Editor’s note: These features aren’t standard across the range but are subject to trim level and installed packages.
Most importantly, the 2021 Ford Escape is still a modern crossover that sits squarely in the middle of its competition at a starting price of C$28,549. However, that’s not entirely a great thing, as you’ll see at the end of this review. Click here to skip to our verdict.
What’s Under The Hood Of The 2021 Ford Escape?
One of the main weapons of the 2021 Ford Escape is its hybrid transmission. Unlike many other vehicles in its class, the hybrid transmission isn’t exclusive to the top trims—it’s available in all three—and with the hybrid motor, you get much better fuel efficiency. For instance, 30 MPG combined in the smallest 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine jumps to 41 MPG with the hybrid transmission. The plug-in model also adds 37 miles of additional range in the electric-only mode.
However, if fuel efficiency doesn’t excite you, then you might be interested in the 250-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 280 pound-feet of torque mated to an all-wheel-drive, 8-speed automatic transmission (that still provides 26 MPG combined).
Editor’s note: The hybrid transmission is only available in front-wheel drive.
There is one slight issue, though, and that is the steering feel—or lack thereof. The Escape’s steering column just doesn’t transfer the feel of the road as well as other cars. Interestingly, this might be a deliberate design choice, considering the target demographic isn’t gearheads. Still, a better steering rack would’ve suited the Escape’s firm suspension, which makes the car feel anchored to the road and is an advantage for longer trips. Unfortunately, the firmer suspension also means that bumps in the road are felt more prominently inside the cabin. That said, it’s really only a problem if you regularly drive on country roads or patchy asphalt.
What’s The Interior Of The 2021 Ford Escape Like?
Moving inside, the 2021 Ford Escape sports typical Ford interior design cues, like the 8-inch screen standing atop the dashboard (4.2-inch in the base models) and an overall grey cockpit. Things can change at night, though, with the ambient interior lighting.
There are some attractive and well-thought-out trim pieces, including the easily accessible wireless charging dock and USB slot in the centre console as well as the small slot that’s lined with a non-slip material right in front of the handrest, making it a great place to keep your keys. There is also plenty of additional storage space throughout the car.
Unfortunately, cheap plastic makes a return in this year’s model in many panels, including the doors, which are especially scratch-prone. The fake wood trim that comes with the Titanium trim isn’t particularly eye-catching, with its matte finish that matches the dark grey aesthetic of the Escape’s interior.
What Tech Does The 2021 Ford Escape Offer?
We’ve already listed some great tech features that the 2021 Ford Escape has to offer, but you’ll be happy to know that there’s more. For starters, the infotainment touchscreen is equipped with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, and there’s an optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (a 6.5-inch digital display comes as standard). To complement the instrument cluster, an optional pop-up heads-up display is also available. In terms of audio, 6 speakers are standard, although you can upgrade to a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen system as well.
Finally, in terms of security, Ford has done a great job. The 2021 Escape’s sturdy chassis received a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In addition to this, you also get a range of standard driver-assistance and safety features, including automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and more. Higher trims like the Titanium take these safety features a step further.
Our Take On The 2021 Ford Escape
Let’s circle back to the first question—what is the 2021 Ford Escape? Ford calls the 2021 Escape an SUV, but like most SUVs of the last five years, the “sport” in sport utility vehicle is a bit lacking. And why wouldn’t it be? Most of these vehicles will never leave the concrete jungle (pun intended), and that’s perfectly fine—there are other cars for those kinds of adventures (the 2021 remake of the legendary Ford Bronco is one example).
Essentially, we’d be better off comparing the 2021 Escape with other crossovers on the market, but, ironically, that’s exactly Ford’s problem—other crossovers.
The 2021 Ford Escape, on its own, is an overall great package and a solid car, but it’s not an obvious buy—especially not when the crossover market is filled with the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan, the Mazda CX-5, and especially, the Toyota RAV4. They’re all great alternatives and, sadly for the 2021 Ford Escape, objectively better in many areas.