Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2018 Ford Escape is a competent player in the crowded compact-SUV class. In addition to facing well-known rivals like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Escape competes with fresher nameplates such as the Mazda CX-5. The Escape keeps pace on both the tech and safety fronts with seamless smartphone integration and a suite of driver-assistance features.
You'll Like The 2018 Ford Escape If...
Ford’s 2018 Escape is versatile in both its general character and its newly enlarged lineup. It offers everything from a simple yet stylish and easy-to-drive base model to a sophisticated and powerful Titanium edition. The Escape’s 3,500-pound tow rating is among the highest in this segment.
You May Not Like The 2018 Ford Escape If...
If you need the maximum amount of cargo room in your small SUV, turn to the roomier Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. The Mazda CX-5 is arguably the most stylish in this segment, is a bit more fun to drive, and is set to offer a diesel compact SUV variant.
The Ford Escape SUV is updated for 2018 with a new trim level, the SEL that brings amenities including leather seats, power tailgate and 8-inch infotainment system that works with CarPlay and Android Auto. SE models get heated front seats, while the Titanium now comes exclusively with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine.
The Escape SUV benefited from a wide-ranging remake last year. Virtually every touch surface was revised to create a more premium look and feel, a move that should keep this 2-row/5-passenger compact-crossover SUV fresh in the years ahead. The Escape’s electronic parking brake and repositioned shift lever ease access to the climate controls and center-stack media bin with USB port and 12V power point. Other improvements included a more user-friendly multifunction steering wheel, re-contoured front buckets, a larger center armrest and bigger covered console bin. Dropping the 60/40 fold-flat rear seat doubles the usable storage area from 34.0 to 68.0 cubic feet.
Also updated just last year, the Escape’s exterior remains fresh thanks to a recast nose that portrays an edgier character defined by a soft cap, prominent hexagonal grille – which conceals active grille shutters to improve efficiency — sleeker LED-infused headlights and larger outboard air intakes along with a redrawn aluminum hood. A Sport Appearance Package, available on SE models, aims to bring an edgier vibe with blackout-trim accents, halogen headlights and 19-inch Ebony Black alloy wheels. For 2018, the Escape gains new colors: Blue Metallic and Cinnamon Glaze.
The 2018 Escape is among the nimbler, fun-to-drive compact SUVs, splitting the difference between the athletic Mazda CX-5 and the more comfort-oriented Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. A high nose, prominent A-pillars and relatively large turning circle do impact its abilities in super-tight confines but have little effect on busy city streets and freeways. A full roster of available driving aids, from blind-spot monitoring to lane-keeping assist to adaptive cruise control makes the act of driving safer and less fatiguing. The Escape’s trio of powerplants spans from the adequate 2.5-liter 4-cylinder in base models to the 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo that makes the Escape capable of very quick escapes. If you go with that most powerful engine, we recommend all-wheel drive, which helps put the power down better. Most buyers will be more than happy with the 1.5-liter turbo that splits the power difference between the base and range-topping engine.
The 2018 Ford Escape has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $24,845 (including the $995 destination charge) for a base model. The more recommendable Escape SE begins at $26,600, and the new SEL trim starts at $29,000 exactly. The premium Titanium trim starts just over $33,000. At its starting price, the Escape slightly undercuts the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, while other rivals like the Chevy Equinox, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson start a little lower. With over a dozen choices, the compact SUV segment is among the most popular. If you need a quick overview of all choices, see our Compact SUV Buyer’s Guide. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new 2018 Ford Escape. Resale value isn’t expected to be all that strong, the Ford trailing rivals like the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5. Bonus Content: Here’s how the Ford Escape stacks up against some of the competitionFord Escape vs Ford EdgeFord Escape vs Honda CR-VFord Escape vs Toyota RAV4
The 2018 Escape is available in four trims: S, SE, SEL and Titanium. The least expensive Ford Escape is a pretty basic small SUV with cruise control, rearview camera, 6-way-adjustable driver’s seat and automatic headlights. The basic infotainment system includes 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio with USB input, 4.2-inch screen and Ford’s basic Sync system with Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition. You’re better off with at least an SE model, which adds a turbo engine, dual-zone climate control, privacy glass, 10-way-power driver’s seat and heated front seats. It also opens the door for all-wheel drive and options like Sync 3 with CarPlay and more.
The new SEL nicely slots between the SE and Titanium with standard power tailgate, leather interior, Sync 3 and its 8-inch touch screen and even the Sync Connect system with built-in Wi-Fi and the ability to lock, unlock and start the car from a phone. Top-line Titanium models add the most powerful engine in the lineup, hands-free tailgate, push-button start, heated steering wheel, power passenger seat, navigation and 10-speaker Sony premium audio with HD Radio. Optional starting on SE trims are blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist and a parking system that aids with parallel and reverse parking.
SYNC 3 INFOTAINMENT SYSTEMFord keeps improving its Sync touch-screen infotainment system, making it easier to see, easier to use and more responsive. The latest version, Sync 3 — standard on SEL and Titanium models and optional on the SE — has an 8-inch screen and is CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. TOWING CAPACITYThe Ford Escape handily beats the towing-capacity rivals, including the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. While those are limited to 1,500 pounds — what a base Escape pulls — models with the 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter turbo engines offer Class II tow packages rated to tow 2,000 and 3,500 pounds, respectively.
Under the Hood
Three engines remain available in the Escape, though this year each is tied to specific trims. All are 4-cylinder powerplants connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Base Ford Escape S models use a 2.5-liter, in front-wheel drive (FWD) only. Ford Escape SE and the new SEL use a 1.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine with FWD standard and all-wheel drive (AWD) optional. Though smaller than the 2.5-liter, it has greater horsepower (179 vs. 168) thanks to the forced induction of turbocharging. Now exclusive to the Titanium model is the 2.0-liter, which packs 245 horsepower and can tow 3,500 pounds. It too is FWD or AWD, and we recommend the latter to prevent torque steer. Both EcoBoost engines use a start/stop system that shuts off the engine at idle. 2.5-liter inline-4168 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm170 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 mpg (FWD) 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4179 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm177 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg (FWD), 22/28 mpg (AWD) 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4245 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm275 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg (FWD), 20/27 mpg (AWD)
The 2018 Ford Escape is a competent, popular player in the crowded compact-SUV class. In addition to facing similarly well-known rivals like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Escape competes with fresher nameplates such as the Mazda CX-5. The Escape keeps pace on both tech and safety fronts with seamless smartphone integration and a suite of driver-assistance features. Ford’s compact-crossover SUV also benefits from a trio of engine choices, including one that packs 245 horsepower. A new trim for 2018, the SEL, fills the white space and price gap between the mid-tier SE and range-topping Titanium. With athletic driving manners and a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds, the Escape remains a well-rounded choice in the ever-competitive compact-crossover-SUV arena.