What changes will make the 2018 Ford Escape different?
Very few, considering the major updates it got for model-year 2017 — and the even bigger ones just over the horizon. That leaves the 2018 version of this popular compact crossover treading water in one of America’s hottest automotive segments. The 2018 Escape will carry over the freshened styling, upgraded features, and better engines that came on board with the ’17 revamp. They were the most significant changes since the current-generation Escape’s model-year 2013 redesign. They’ll see this five-passenger crossover through to its next full redesign, though when precisely that will occur, only Ford knows. Some sources speculate the all-new Escape will bow for model-year 2019, others say for 2010. When it arrives, it’ll be about the same size as today’s model, but roomier and lighter and will offer a gas-electric hybrid model.
Why should I wait for the 2018?
You probably shouldn’t. It’ll cost more than the ’17, but be virtually the same vehicle. New color choices are likely the extent of its appearance changes, with an outside chance Ford could conjure some sort of cosmetically tweaked special to mark the close of this design generation. The ’18 Escape will again trade on its sporty looks, although with the redesign around the corner, even the recently freshened styling is approaching its sell-by date. Road manners will again be a selling point, as will an available turbocharged four-cylinder that’s among the most powerful engines in the class. Subpar rear-seat legroom will remain a drawback that won’t be solved until the next-gen arrives. Similarly, we hope Ford would be motivated to upgrade Escape’s autonomous emergency braking system, enabling it to bring the crossover to a full stop rather than just slowing it down. But that upgrade probably will have to wait for the redesign, as well.
Should I buy a 2017 model instead?
If you like the results of the 2017 update, a ’17 is probably a smarter buy than an ’18. Styling, features, and powertrains won’t change materially for 2018. Buying a ’17 sidesteps the almost certain model-year price increase. And barring addition of some sort of special edition, both the ’17 and ’18 will present the same choice in trim levels. It’ll start with the entry-level S model, include the volume-selling SE grade, and top out with the fancy Titanium model. The S should continue with front-wheel drive only, the SE and Titanium with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive (AWD). Both the ’17 and ’18 lineups would also repeat an all-four-cylinder-engine roster that limits the S to a naturally aspirated engine and makes the SE and Titanium available with a choice of turbocharged units.
Will the styling be different?
No. It’ll continue the look that came on line with the 2017 refresh. Dimensions and the main body panels didn’t change, but a bigger grille and sleeker headlamps bolstered the family resemblance to Ford’s midsize Edge crossover. A subtly reshaped tail with larger lamps made for a more substantial-looking rump. Inside, the ’18 will carry over the classier new steering wheel introduced for 2017, as well as a more spacious center console improved by a less intrusive transmission shifter and a parking brake operated by an electric button rather than a ratcheting lever. Headroom will remain among best in class but rear-seat legroom will again fall short of the norm. Cargo volume will remain middling as well.
Expect 2018 model differentiators to again include black exterior trim and 17-inch steel wheels for the S model. The 2018 SE should return with 17-inch alloys, the Titanium with 18s, and both should repeat their added exterior fillips, body-colored door handles, chrome dual exhaust tips, LED taillamps, and rear side privacy glass. The SE and Titanium should also again be available with the Sport Appearance Package introduced for 2017. The option features black-themed body trim, 19-inch alloy wheels, and extra-supportive front bucket seats upholstered in white-stitched leather and cloth. The package could be a jumping-off point for a 2018 special edition, although Ford could also exploit a trend toward luxury in this segment with a new trim grade upstream of the already cushy Titanium. The automaker would, however, need to maintain some gap between any new Escape flagship and the MKC crossover marketed by its premium Lincoln division. The MKC is essentially a gussied-up and pricier version of the Escape; it too is due a redesign for model-year ’19 or ’20.
Any mechanical changes?
No. The ’18 Escape will continue the advances introduced with the 2017 refresh. Foremost are the smoother, more responsive engines given the SE and Titanium. A turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder will again be standard on these models. With 180 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, its output is little changed from the 1.6-liter turbo four it replaced. Acceleration is pleasing if far from ferocious. But the newer engine operates with more refinement and has been more reliable than the 1.6, which was the source of many of the recalls that blemished the 2013-2016 Escape.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter will again be an SE and Titanium option at an expected $1,295. This engine replaced a turbo four of identical displacement but slightly less power. With 245 horses and 275 pound-feet of torque, it’ll again be among the most powerful engines in the competitive set. Its feisty nature is a fine compliment to Escape’s outstanding handling. At the other end of the spectrum, the 2018 S model will reprise a rather coarse and underwhelming naturally aspirated 2.5-liter with 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic will remain Escape’s sole transmission. SE and Titanium will again have steering-wheel paddles that, along with a less convenient shift-lever button, allow the driver some manual-type gear control.
Escape’s AWD system is designed primarily to enhance slippery-pavement traction by apportioning up to 100 percent of the engine’s torque rearward when sensors detect front-tire slip. But it also augments the already admirable dry-road handling, a residue of Escape’s origins as a design honed by the automaker’s European operation. Ford isn’t likely to readjust steering feel to match the class-leading precision of the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. But any ’18 Escape should again furnish a combination of grip and composure hard to top in this segment.
Will fuel economy improve?
EPA fuel-economy ratings shouldn’t budge from the model-year 2017 numbers, so the 2018 Escape’s mileage should again meet or slightly exceed those of rivals with similar power. Expect the 2018 S to again rate 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined. SE and Titanium, with their standard turbo 1.5-liter, should again rate 23/30/26 mpg with front-wheel drive and 22/28/24 with AWD. And with the more powerful turbo 2.0-liter, their rating should remain 22/29/25 mpg with front-drive and 20/27/23 with AWD – not much different from those of the turbo 1.5.
The 2018 EPA ratings still won’t reflect it, but both turbo engines will again benefit from a fuel-saving stop-start system that shuts them off when the vehicle is stationary (leaving accessories running), then restarts them automatically when the driver releases the brake pedal. It works with laudable smoothness. The 2.0-liter should remain the only Escape engine for which Ford recommends premium-grade 91-octane gas.
Will it have new features?
Not many left to add, but Ford could upgrade the capability and liberalize the availability of some key safety features. As mentioned, bolstering autonomous emergency braking with the ability to bring the Escape to a stop to avoid hitting another vehicle or a pedestrian would match the capability of similar systems offered on such rivals as the CR-V, CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and Subaru Forester. It would also make the 2018 Escape eligible for the industry’s most prized safety rating, the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
Automatic braking to slow but not stop it was added for the 2017 freshening, but only as an adjunct of the adaptive-cruise-control option exclusive to the Titanium model. So extending its availability to a model, or models, less expensive than the Titanium would be a fine change, too, and would match the practice of most of the competition. Adaptive cruise control maintains a set distance from traffic ahead and was one of the new-for’17 safety features available only on the Titanium. Unless Ford rethinks things, other Titanium exclusives would again include lane-keep assist to automatically steer the Escape back should you inadvertently drift from your lane, and sensors that detect directional instability associated with drowsy driving and sound an alert.
Otherwise, expect the wide range of features to return, with availability dependent on model. These include the Sync Connect smartphone app that enables you to remotely, start your Escape’s engine, lock and unlock the door locks, monitor fuel and battery levels, check tire pressure, even find where you’ve parked it. Expect the S model to again come with a rearview camera, power windows and locks, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, a tilt/telescope steering wheel with buttons for audio and cruise control, and the basic Sync system of hands-free phone linking. The 2018 SE should again add a power driver’s seat, 60/40 split/folding rear seatbacks, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, and steering wheel paddle shifters. Titanium models will again include all that, plus Sync Connect, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic detection, leather-upholstered front bucket seats, a power passenger seat, driver-seat memory, and upgraded audio. Barring some Ford reconsideration, a power liftgate that opens with a wave of your foot beneath the bumper would also remain a Titanium exclusive, as would pushbutton and remote engine start and ambient cabin lighting.
How will 2018 prices be different?
They’ll increase, but won’t displace Escape’s position at the heart of the competitive set – that’s true despite the fact an AWD Titanium with every factory option would again sticker for more than $37,000, higher than loaded examples of top rivals such as the CR-V and RAV4. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee, which was $895 on the ’17 Escape.) Estimated base price for the 2018 Escape S is $24,800.
Adding AWD to a 2018 SE or Titamium should again cost $1,750. With front-drive expect the 2018 SEs to start around $26,200 and key options to again include the blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic detection as part of a $1,395 package that also brings handy one-touch up-and-down side windows, roof-rack side rails, LED daytime running lights, and Sync 3 with an 8-inch dashboard screen. Leather upholstery in combination with a power passenger seat and heated mirrors should again be an SE option at around $1,600. Other returning SE extras would likely be a power liftgate (without hands-free opening) at $495 and 18-inch alloys at $595. For a reasonable $490, the Cold Weather Package would again give the SE heated front seats and mirrors, a windshield wiper deicer, and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts
Estimated base price for the 2018 Titanium with front-drive is $30,200. With no change to the options strategy, exclusive Titanium extras would again include the adaptive cruise control with pre-collision braking at around $595. Same for a $1,995 equipment group with lane-keep assist, automatic-dimming high-beam headlights, automatic parallel- and perpendicular-parking, bi-xenon headlamps, and a heated steering wheel.
Among extras expected to again be available on both the SE and Titanium are an imbedded navigation system ($795 in conjunction with Sync Connect), and a panoramic moonroof, at $1,495. Expect the Sport Appearance Package to again add $1,295 to an SE and $725 to a Titanium.
When will it come out?
Look for a 2018 Ford Escape release date during spring 2017.
What changes would make it better?
Aside from the aforementioned safety-system rethink, Ford seems to be addressing Escape’s most pressing needs with the coming redesign. It’ll have more interior room, reduced weight for improved fuel economy and even better handling, and further upgrades to powertrains, including introduction of a nine-speed automatic transmission. A gas-electric hybrid that could top the line for both the performance and economy, should be available, as well. All this will come in the context of Escape’s evolving role in Ford’s lineup. It’ll remain the basis for the Lincoln MKC, and keep its place as the automaker’s entry in the size-segment below its midsize Edge and Explorer crossovers. However, the future Escape could be repositioned slightly upscale in features, cabin materials, and price because Ford has plans to add a subcompact crossover in the size and price segment below the compact class. Tentatively dubbed the EcoSport, it’ll likely introduced for model-year 2018 or ’19 and give Ford its first rival for such subcompact crossovers as the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, and Toyota C-HR.