Initially made ‘infamous’ in twisted horror movie plots, escape rooms are essentially problem solving games where a team (or just a group of people) are locked in a themed room and by solving a series of puzzles, riddles and cyphers they are able to ‘escape’ the room and/or impending doom. Escape rooms test the problem-solving, lateral thinking (“thinking outside the box”) and teamwork skills of its participants and aside from the Hollywood influence, are actually fun. Oddly enough, NZ’s new Ford Escape solves many a problem plus puts the v into room.
Ford’s Escape nameplate was originally launched around the turn of the century and was actually jointly developed with Mazda. It slotted into the compact crossover segment and used a car style chassis rather than the more utilitarian ones that were being used on larger SUVs (a process that’s still used today).
Around 2004, the Escape got a new engine. More safety and an Auto gearbox across the entire range while the next few years saw a variety of exterior facelifts and cosmetic tweaks.
2013 saw Gen 3 receive a full design upgrade and a name change to Kuga (along with a few smirks and ‘double entendres’) and that concludes the history lesson. For MY 2021 the Escape is back and better than ever.
The Gen 4 Escape sits on Ford’s very impressive Focus platform so in layman’s terms ‘it’s got good bones’ but is longer, wider and lower than the previous Escape or Kuga. It’s got a sportier new look with a Mustang inspired ‘shield-shape’ grille and sloping roofline but it’s roomy too with a sliding rear seat that offers best in class passenger legroom and 556L – 1478L of luggage space.
My ST-Line X AWD review model came with a 2L Ecoboost engine (183kW/387Nm, 8.5L/100km and 199CO2/km) although there is are two PHEV options available that sport a 2.5L iVCT (167kW, 1.5L/100km and 33gCO2/km) should you so choose. The power combined with a weight loss of around 100kg over the previous model means that it’s happy to nip here there and everywhere.
What’s more, the new Escape is smart too, it’s literally full to the brim of solutions, everything from parking itself into tiny parallel spaces to adaptive cruising and detecting pedestrians and cyclists. The 8-inch infotainment screen is Apple and Android connected, has Sync 3, and powers a B&O sound system while the digital instrument cluster showcases all manner of data and some clever colourful graphics – being the latest generation of Ford’s, it’s Fordpass connected too.
Despite being deemed a ‘compact’ the Escape comfortable carries four adults and a small one too for good measure. It’s a versatile baby SUV that is very, very happy in the town but keen to join you on longer runs and day trips. The AWD system is stoic on the road, maybe a little too much so (if there is such a thing) as I personally found the FWD more than capable and the tech comes at you thick and fast with virtually every ‘assist and aid’ you could want/need.
It’s a comfortable drive with supportive seats and a trim that’s both tactile durable for even the toughest of families. The rotary e-Shifter that gives you access to the 8-speed Automatic Transmission with SelectShift is not going to be everyone’s taste but once you get used to it, it’s fine.
Admittedly we (as a family) didn’t take the new Ford Escape on any long or extended trips or even escape the greater Auckland city walls but I must say it offers plenty of room and vroom for normal everyday life. It’s a great compact crossover that you won’t be keen to get out of.
Starting Price: RRP from $55,990+orc.